Thursday, 23 March 2017

Buxton - Derbyshire

Fortunately this wasn't our first visit to Buxton. We had seen it before in a much better light.

Buxton is another of those gateways into the Peak District, this time for those from the North West. It is a spa town and was famous for its waters. It is also a clearly old and well established town with most of the building well in keeping with each other.

It was those buildings that make all the different, dependent on the weather. On a grey day with rain hammering down the limestone buildings seem hard and unwelcoming. Change that to a bright sunny day and the whole town lights up.

Buxton Opera House

Fortunately, if it does rain, you can visit Poole's Cavern.

The limestone caves under Buxton have been known for more than 2000 years, but easy access is relatively recent. The impressive caves were eroded by the River Wye as it disappears below ground before re-emerging to make its impressive descent towards the east.

What was pleasant about this experience was that the visit was friendly, the guided tour was informative and humorous at times, and the prices in the gift shop were gentle - not the rip-off charges of many other attractions.

As Buxton began to flourish as a spa town, the lame headed for the waters and the curious went to crawl into the atmospheric cavern. With only candles to light the way, exploration would have been fraught, especially as there is a steady stream of water droplets that would have challenged any candle holder. The Victorians added gas lighting but today there are strategically placed electric lights that focus the attention on the more interesting of the features.

The temperature in the cavern is a constant 7 degrees C (44F) but the steady flow of information and apocryphal stories, coupled with the intriguing sights meant that an hour on the tour flashes by with no realisation of the fact that it was no warmer inside that it was outside, except for the lack of wind.

You get plenty of chance to see the fledgling river as it burbles over the rocks, flashes of white water hinting at what the river does when once again free of the gloom and tumbling down to meet Bakewell.

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