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Chapel-en-le-Frith | Peak District Towns and Villages | Staffordshire | Derbyshire | England | UK

Peak District Towns and Villages: Chapel-en-le-Frith

Villages around Chapel-en-le-Frith


Modern Chinley is a large busy village with many stone-built Victorian buildings. It is situated just on the western edge of the Peak District National Park. It is a good base for exploration of the western side of the Peak District and for walks up onto Kinder and its outlying hills.

View of Chinley and Cracken Edge
View of Chinley and Cracken Edge
The area around the village was part of the Royal Forest of the Peak and there was probably little but a few isolated farms here until the 17th century. The oldest building in the area is the Elizabethan hall built at the nearby hamlet of Whitehough by the Kyrke family at the end of the 16th century and now the Old Hall Inn, but some farms along Stubbins Lane are also quite old and in 1711 Charles Wesley was entertained at Chinley End Farm, which still stands in Lower Lane.

In fact Wesley was a regular visitor here and preached often at nearby Chapel Milton, for the area was a hotbed of early Nonconformism. Perhaps one reason why he came was because Chinley was also the home of Grace Murray (later the wife of Charles Bennet, another famous preacher), who is said to be the only woman Wesley loved and would have wished to marry.

The New Chapel
The New Chapel
The industrial revolution came to the Chinley area and brought the construction of three mills along the Blackbrook which runs through the village. These were followed in 1799 by the Peak Forest tramway, a crude railway which used horse-drawn wagons to carry stone from the quarries at Dove Holes to the canal at nearby Bugsworth basin. The arrival of the railway in 1867 and its later extension in 1901 to carry trains to Sheffield saw Chinley grow rapidly and in the early years of the 20th century it was an important railway junction and a regular stopping-point for trainloads of ramblers at weekends. The modern village contains many houses from this era, built out of stone quarried from nearby Cracken Edge for wealthy commuters who took the train to Manchester every morning. The railway is still an important connection from Chinley to the wider rail network.

The centre of the village has some shops and there is a pub at nearby Whitehough. Chinley is beautifully situated with plenty of walking close at hand and a walk up Chinley Churn or Cracken Edge gives an excellent view across the area.

Chinley Chapel
0 - Chinley Chapel
Chinley Chapel interior
1 - Chinley Chapel interior
Chapel-en-le-Frith church
2 - Chapel-en-le-Frith church
Chapel-en-le-Frith cottages
3 - Chapel-en-le-Frith cottages
Chapel-en-le-Frith market cross
4 - Chapel-en-le-Frith market cross
Chapel-en-le-Frith stocks
5 - Chapel-en-le-Frith stocks
Chapel-en-le-Frith Hearse House
6 - Chapel-en-le-Frith Hearse House
Chinley Farm
7 - Chinley Farm
Chinley with Cracken Edge behind
8 - Chinley with Cracken Edge behind
Chinley - Whitehough Old Hall
9 - Chinley - Whitehough Old Hall
Chinley shops
10 - Chinley shops
Combs and Combs Edge view from Eccles Pike
11 - Combs and Combs Edge view from Eccles Pike
Chinley and Chinley Churn from Eccles Pike
12 - Chinley and Chinley Churn from Eccles Pike
Chapel-en-le-Frith from Eccles Pike
13 - Chapel-en-le-Frith from Eccles Pike


Combs is a small hamlet off the Chapel-en-le-Frith to Whaley Bridge road. It nestles in a sheltered valley between Ladder Hill and Combs Edge. Once largely a farming community, it is now a popular place for Manchester commuters because of its good road and rail communications.

The village centres around the Beehive Inn, while to the north of the village lies Combs reservoir, which supports a local sailing club. To the east the village is overshadowed by Castle Naze, a gritstone crag at the apex of Combs edge, which provides splendid views across Chapel-en-le-Frith and the surrounding area. This was also one of the crags where rock-climbing was pioneered and it is still popular with local climbers.

Castle Naze was the site of an Iron Age fortress and the ruins of the ramparts are probably the best preserved of any in the area. This and the view make it well worth a visit.

Castle Naze
0 - Castle Naze
Castle Naze ramparts
1 - Castle Naze ramparts
Combs village
2 - Combs village

Dove Holes

Dove Holes is located high up in the limestone heartland of the White Peak, with both dramatic scenery and weather. An active and lively community, it is home to many of the workers from the surrounding quarries and carries a life within it that some of the surrounding dormer and holiday villages often lack. The 'international' beer and jazz festival held annually in early July is not to be missed.

The main historical point of interest here is the Bull Ring, a Stone Age henge monument similar to Arbor Low, and the next best example in the Peak. It is situated behind the school and church and accessed via the track to the Community centre. The bank and ditch, with a raised area in the centre, are clearly visible, but there are no stones. Local tradition has it that the stones were removed to be used as sleepers for the Peak Forest Tramway, a crude early railway constructed in the 1790s to carry stone to the canal at Buxworth. Despite this loss the Bull Ring remains an impressive place and worth visiting.

Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
0 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
1 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view

Peak Dale

Peak Dale, which is divided almost in two by the former Midland Railway, comprises Upper End on the west side of the railway and Smalldale on the east. Both were built to house quarrymen in the days when the stone was largely hewn from the quarries by hand, and so the settlements are composed mostly of small stone cottages and are surrounded by past, present and future limestone quarries.

Some of the former quarries have been filled in and landscaped, but others have been flooded and are now filled by blue lagoons. Some of the old quarries are used for various sports activities.

Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
0 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
1 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view

Peak Forest

Peak Forest does not have many trees, for it is named after the Royal Forest of the Peak; a 'forest' being an area set aside for hunting rather than a wooded place. North-west of the village lies Chamber Knowl Farm, where the Swainmote (one of the courts of the Royal Forest) used to meet, but the present building dates from the eighteenth century, long after the forest was abolished.

The Royal Forest originally covered most of the northern half of the Peak District when founded by William the Conquerer, but this area was gradually whittled away by encroachment until only a small area around Peak Forest remained by the 16th century, and the forest was finally abolished in 1674.

The current church dates only from the late 19th century, but the church on this site has an interesting history. It was founded in 1657 by the Countess of Devonshire (at a time when the Commonwealth had forbidden church-building), and is one of a very few in the country dedicated to Charles the King and Martyr - so it is clear where the Devonshires' sympathies lay! Until the late eighteenth century the vicar had the right to conduct marriages between 'any persons', 'from anywhere' and 'at any time'. The village hence became a sort of local Gretna Green.

A less accessible feature of Peak Forest is Eldon Hole, one of the seven wonders of the Peak. It is the deepest local pothole; an alarming, evil-looking chasm in the side of Eldon Hill to the north of the village. Access from the village is via Eldon Lane, and is a half-hour walk. The hole is approximately 60 metres deep, but was probably once much deeper, having been part-filled by stones over the years. It was first descended in 1780 and is now quite regularly descended by potholers. Near to Edlon Hill is Starvehouse Moor, a very interesting area and one of the few Limestone Heaths that can be found in the Peak District. Here you will find the curious phenomenon of heather growing on limestone. Made possible by the acid nature of the Loess soils in which it grows.

The village has a shop and a pub, the Devonshire Arms. There is a well-dressing in mid-July.

Eldon Hole, Peak Forest
0 - Eldon Hole, Peak Forest


The quaintly named hamlet of Sparrowpit nestles in a wind-swept spot on a high shoulder where the road from Winnats Pass meets the A623 road, which runs between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Chesterfield. The gritstone houses seem to try to shelter behind the hillside to avoid the wind, for there is little natural shelter here.

The only amenity is a pub, called the Wanted Inn. This contains some good pictures of the caves as well as snow-bound winter shots of the pub.

Whaley Bridge

Whaley Bridge is a former mill village centred around the River Goyt, which runs through the village. Until recently the village was dominated by a dyeworks, which provided the main local employment but this closed in the late 1990s.

Whaley Bridge first came to prominence as the terminus of the High Peak Canal - built at the end of the 18th century to carry limestone from the quarries above Chapel-en-le-Frith to Manchester and beyond. This was originally serviced by the High Peak Tramway - a primitive railway built in the 1780s which linked the quarries at Dove Holes with the main canal basin at nearby Buxworth. The Tramway was an interesting piece of engineering, comprising several fairly level sections with steep 'inclined planes' in between them. Horses pulled wagons full of stone along the level sections, and on the inclined planes there were stationary steam engines to haul the wagons up and down.

The Cromford and High Peak Railway opened in 1830 and linked Whaley Bridge with Buxton and then across the White Peak to Cromford. This unique railway crossed some formidable terrain with steep inclines and used a mixture of stationary engines hauling wagons up steep inclines, like that at High peak Junction south of Cromford, with normal sections of railway track in between. Rather similar in principle to the earlier High Peak Tramway.

The railway brought stone from the quarries above Buxton down to the canal at Whaley Bridge but turned out not to be viable so it shut before the end of the 19th century.

The railway linking Buxton to Manchester was constructed in the 1870s and passed through Whaley Bridge, bringing improved communications and boom conditions to this and other settlements along the line, with a rapid expansion of the local textile industry as well as the possibility of commuting to Manchester. Most of the buildings of the village date from this period.

Bugsworth Canal Basin
0 - Bugsworth Canal Basin
Bugsworth Canal Basin
1 - Bugsworth Canal Basin
Bugsworth Canal Basin
2 - Bugsworth Canal Basin
Bugsworth - Navigation Inn
3 - Bugsworth - Navigation Inn

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