When you walk the Peak Way long-distance walk, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding where to eat.
You might want to try some of the many country pubs where you can enjoy delicious home-cooked food with quality ingredients, often sourced locally. And depending on the time of year, and prevailing weather, you might choose to sample one of the local ales around a log fire or enjoy a glass of wine outdoors, often with a wonderful view of the surrounding landscape.
Then there’s the unique cafes and tearooms where you can enjoy a breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, or maybe a tea or coffee with a slice of homemade cake.
Or perhaps you’ll treat yourself in one of the restaurants or bistros which offer a wide range from fine dining to less formal menus.
Maybe you’ll decide on fish and chips or a wood-fired pizza to take out, and choose your own spot to sit and enjoy it.
The Peak District has several local breweries and distilleries, several ice cream makers, lots of farm shops and of course Buxton Water which is distributed nationally, and Swizzel Matlow’s famous sweets. And Holdsworth Chocolates makes delicious handmade chocolates. The list goes on!
But in addition, I discovered that the Peak District has invented several foods, most of which are still available today. So, I just had to find out more about these. If you’re like me, you’ll want to try the homemade and locally sourced delicacies when you’re walking the Peak Way. But why not take it a stage further and try out these old recipes as I did. Because amazingly, they’re all available along the Peak Way route.
When you arrive in Bakewell, you won’t help but notice that there are quite a few shops and cafes offering Bakewell Pudding, arguably the most famous of desserts made in the Peak District. Despite the popular story that it was created by accident by a cook at the town’s Rutland Arms (formerly White Horse Inn), some claim that its origin can be traced to cookery books from around 1830. The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop has the fascinating story of the birth and the subsequent evolution of the Bakewell Pudding on its website. Their Bakewell Puddings are still made by hand from the secret recipe today. You might also like to try the Bakewell Tart, which apparently was developed as a variant of the Pudding later in the 20th century and looks very different. Naturally, when I was walking the Peak Way, I picked up both of them to try.
Another recipe that originated in the county, as far back as the 17th century, was for Derbyshire Oatcakes. They are savoury and made from oats, flour, salt, yeast and water and have the appearance of a flattened crumpet. They’re often served with cheese and bacon, but apparently can also be served with sweet toppings such as fruit, honey and yoghurt. I bought some, also in Bakewell and enjoyed them topped with cheese, onion and mushrooms.
It is said that the recipe for Ashbourne Gingerbread came from a French prisoner who was billeted in Ashbourne during the Napoleonic Wars. The recipe is still used today, and you can get a wide range of gingerbread from the Ashbourne Gingerbread Shop, a black and white timbered building, as I did.
Hartington has a history of cheese making from as far back as the 1870’s and in fact was one of many cheese making factories in the Peak District during the last century. Indeed, it was the last one to close and this was in 2009. But fortunately, the tradition was reinstated in 2012 when the new Hartington Creamery made its first cheeses (Peakland Blue and Peakland White), at the nearby Pikehall Farm. And this was followed a few years later by the production of Dovedale Blue.
So, when you reach the lovely village of Hartington on the Peak Way, why not visit the Hartington Cheese Shop. You’ll find a wide selection of cheeses, made in Hartington and other areas of the UK too, as well as biscuits, chutneys, jams, sauces, beers and wines. And if like me, you come away with some of the local cheeses and a few bottles of local beers, make sure that you have room in your rucksack or simply sit and enjoy it by the village pond.
The recipe for the original Buxton Pudding dates back to Victorian times. Now though, you can enjoy a slightly updated version of it, created by the Buxton Pudding Company. Basically, they’ve taken the original recipe, which apparently was bland, and they’ve made a few tweaks to create their tasty dessert called ‘The Original Buxton Pudding’. So where can you get one whilst you’re walking the Peak Way? Well stockists include the shop at Chatsworth and The Village Stores at Hartington. But when I tried to buy one in Hartington, they were out of stock. So, I made a visit to the Buxton Pudding Emporium in Buxton (also on the Peak Way) and here I met the very helpful shop assistant, Ella, who told me all about it, and advised me to have it with cold custard as apparently this brings out the flavour.
So, whilst at the Buxton Pudding Emporium, I had a look around. It’s crammed with good quality produce, much of it locally sourced and not available in supermarkets (everything from flavoured rapeseed oils to luxury ice creams and coffee). So really interesting to browse. And next to the shop, they have tasting rooms which tempt you to try their range of delicious offerings including, of course, their Buxton Pudding and ‘very special real vanilla custard’.
The locally produced food in the photograph comprises four cheeses made by Hartington Creamery (Hartington Stilton, Dovedale Blue, Devonshire Gold and Peakland Cranberry & Orange), Millers Harvest made by Artisan Biscuits of Ashbourne, Walnut & Expresso Cake handmade by Buxton Pudding Company and Bakewell Bakery’s Honey & Sunshine Bread. My wife Marilyn and I picked these up on a recent day trip to Hartington.
Our day in the Peak District started with coffee and refreshments at Beresford Tea Rooms which offers visitors a range of foods, but arguably its most tempting are the eye-catching cakes in the glass cabinet. Then we shopped, first at Hartington Cheese Shop where we bought the cheeses, then onto Hartington Village Stores where we picked up the loaf and the cake.
Following our 5-mile stroll on a lovely sunny day, we returned to Hartington for lunch and then on our journey home, just a few miles down the road, we called at Tagg Lane Dairy and treated ourselves to a couple of their artisan gelatos. Marilyn had the Tiramisu flavoured and I had Mango. But there were so many to choose from that it was difficult to decide.
The Tagg Lane Dairy isn’t strictly on the Peak Way route, but if you’re a big fan of special ice cream and you can’t bear to miss out, you could continue along the High Peak Trail bearing right along the minor road before Sparklow onto the main road and turning right onto Tagg Lane (B5055). The road takes you into Monyash. However, if you decide to do this, you’ll need to be extremely careful because Tagg Lane is a busy road.
So whatever you choose, I hope that you’ll enjoy the culinary delights which you’ll encounter on the Peak Way Walk.