Quaint market town with Dales' grit has a rich industrial past
WHAT'S IT GOT GOING FOR IT?
Nestling in the foothills of the Peak District, Wirksworth is a charming market town with a fascinating industrial past and whose history dates back to Saxon times.
Once famous for lead mining and, more recently, stone quarrying, the town retains the right amount of Derbyshire Dales' grit to stop it becoming twee.
Wirksworth's quaint stone cottages, pretty church, breathtaking surroundings and rich local culture attract locals and newcomers alike – so properties aren't exactly cheap.
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Expect to pay around £130,000 for a small terrace cottage and anything from £250,000 to £450,000 for a larger two-bedroom house depending on age and location.
You can pick up a modern three-bedroom family home on the fringes of town for £225,000 but spacious older character properties start at £350,000.
Wirksworth has a good choice of pubs, including The Blacks Head in the Market Place, the Red Lion Hotel, once a coaching inn, and the Lime Kiln, a great venue for outdoor gigs.
Walkers, both two-legged and four-legged, are made most welcome at the Malt Shovel on Wirksworth Moor, popular for its Sunday lunches. Back in town there's award-winning bistro Le Mistral and Gino's Italian restaurant. Pick up a freshly-made sandwich from Piccalillis or order a takeaway. Oh, and the town has its own micro-brewery.
Where do we start? There's a local beauty spot in almost every direction. Grab your bird-watching binoculars and head for Carsington Water or pull on your walking boots and check out Black Rocks. Get on your bike or hire one on the High Peak Trail at Middleton Top… or take a leisurely stroll along the banks of idyllic Cromford Canal.
Thirteenth-century St Mary's Church has got to be Wirksworth's crowning glory. There's also the heritage centre and National Stone Centre for further insights into the town's more recent history.
Beginners and experienced climbers can practise their skills whatever the weather at The Face, Wirksworth Leisure Centre's climbing wall. Other centre amenities include a gym, swimming pool and fitness classes.
A Fairtrade town, Wirksworth certainly caters for the ethical shopper. There are also grocery stores, two excellent butchers, bakeries, banks and a chemist, not to mention gift and antique shops. For that 'big' shop, there's a large Sainsbury's in Matlock as well as supermarkets in Belper.
Secondary school-age children go to Anthony Gell, a specialist sports college rated as "good and improving" by Ofsted. Younger children attend Wirksworth Junior School and there's also an infant school.
Not far from the A6, Wirksworth is half an hour's drive from Derby.
Buses link Wirksworth with Matlock, Bakewell, Derby and Belper, but the routes are scenic not quick. It takes the best part of an hour to reach the city centre.
Fancy going by rail? Ecclesbourne Valley Railways Association now runs trains to Duffield where passengers can change for regular services to Derby.