A huge part of the county’s area is taken up by the Peak District, Britain’s first National Park, gentle in the South around Ashbourne, but rising in the North, towards the Pennines and Yorkshire, and becoming much more savage around Kinder Scout and the spectacular Snake Pass.
Derbyshire also contains a little of the new National Forest, most of which is in Leicestershire and Staffordshire.
Ashbourne is a delightful market town, famous for gingerbread and known as the gateway to Dovedale.
Buxton is a famous spa town and the highest market town in England. It has elegant architecture and gives the opportunity to fill bottles with the celebrated water from St. Ann’s Well.
Bakewell is a lovely market town, with a mediaeval bridge still carrying traffic and a splendid church outside which are two Anglo-Saxon crosses. Bakewell pudding was invented here by accident – it is widely available in shops, including the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, which contains an excellent restaurant.
Matlock is another spa town, which also features a steam railway.
Matlock Bath is a continuation of Matlock, in a spectacular gorge formed by the River Derwent. Although far inland, it has the feel of a seaside town, and in the Autumn there are illuminations and a water carnival. High above the town are the Heights of Abraham, reached by cable car.
Castleton is a lovely village high up in the Peak District, overlooked by the Norman Peveril Castle, and with a collection of show caves.
Chesterfield, another busy market town, is best-known for the crooked spire of All Saints Church.
Derbyshire is notable for its collection of big houses and stately homes.
Probably the most famous of these is Chatsworth House, home of the Dukes of Devonshire, and known as the Palace of the Peak.
Others include Haddon Hall; Kedleston Hall; Hardwick Hall and Hardwick Old Hall.
The county has several beautiful rivers. Notable among these are the Derwent, flowing through Matlock, Belper and Derby, along which are historic industrial buildings which now form a World Heritage Centre; the Wye, which links Buxton with Bakewell; the Dove, with its famous stepping stones at Dovedale; and the Manifold, hidden among the hills near Ashbourne.
A special tradition of Derbyshire is Well Dressing. Several villages celebrate the provision of water by pressing flowers in attractive designs around wells. The best-known of these traditions is at Tissington, where six wells are dressed on Ascension Day.