Wirksworth is an ancient market town located at the heart of the Derbyshire Dales on the edge of the Peak District National Park. It is within easy reach of Matlock (4 miles), Bakewell (12 miles) and Ashbourne (10miles). Derby is its closest city, just 12 miles away. The town is nestled at the head of the Ecclesbourne Valley surrounded by beautiful open countryside with delightful walks and stunning views.
Wirksworth is steeped in history, from as far back as the Anglo–Saxon period, where remains of an old church, coinage and carvings have been found. The current St Mary’s Church has parts dating back to 1272. In the 17th and 18th century the town became the most important lead mining centre in the country and prospered with the development of the Arkwright Mills in the neighbouring Derwent Valley, now an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the 19th century, lead mining declined and limestone quarrying took over. The now closed quarries are part of the town’s landscape and history. Come and explore the miners’ cottages built randomly around the hillside in the area known locally as the ‘Puzzle Gardens’. The name is due to its unique maze of paths and ‘ginnels’ (alleyways). This area is a fascinating reminder of times gone by. The Art & Architecture Trail weekend is a perfect opportunity to explore the whole town and appreciate Wirksworth’s rich history, it’s setting and the artists and their work.
There is literary acclaim for the town in George Elliot’s book ‘Adam Bede’ which is based here.
Present day Wirksworth is a vibrant and lively place to live and visit. It has a strong arts based community. It has an excellent range of independent shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants and lots of places to stay overnight. You can find out more about local attractions and accommodation on the other pages in the “Your visit” section.