Bakewell, and Getting Mugged by Vicious Swans

Bakewell | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire


I first stopped by Bakewell for lunch on one of the first days driving into the Peak District National Park in the English midlands. Thereafter I meant to change it up and stop at other spots thereafter, but I found Bakewell somehow just… easy to come across on the way to places. And so I ended up dropping by a couple more times.

It’s such a charming town.


Bakewell | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire

Bakewell inner streets

I thought Bakewell is a reasonable size, considering it’s within a National Park. Mind you, not that I’m an expert on how big things ought to be, maximum, in a National Park.

Parking is relatively easy to find (paid parking), and it’s a walkable town. You really want to ditch your car so that you can start to wander about the pedestrian streets which are much nicer.

Here you can explore curious shops. If you’re like me, you would find yourself in the shops making handcrafted beeswax candles and soaps, and the jewelry shop that sells jewelry made of miniature flowers encased in resin. This is not the shop, but the jewelry looks like this. (Heads up: the resin for my pendant got yellowy after a year or so of being constantly worn).

However, the BEST shop of all was the most amazing candy store. I don’t typically take pictures of the insides of shops. But I asked permission to photograph the Georgian House Sweet Shop, because… well look. I don’t even have a sweet tooth but just… wow.

Bakewell candy shop | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire

So. Much. Candy.

The Bakewell tart

Al fresco restaurant courtyard Bakewell | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire

Tuck in, tucked away

So my colleague-friend recommended that I get some Bakewell tart while I’m there. So I wandered about town, disdaining the cafes that were more prominent, because I have a thing for being cosseted away in an obscure alley somewhere. I should probably get that checked.

Luckily, this being a cute little European town, I found a little nook of a courtyard where there was a little cafe. They had a decent lunch menu, with vegetarian options – and even gluten free options!

And they offered Bakewell tart. So I had that for dessert. It was ok. I mean, I don’t have a sweet tooth, so it didn’t ring my chimes.

Another beautiful Peak District bridge

It’s hard to miss this bridge when you’re in Bakewell. Or if you somehow did, do kick yourself. Kick yourself now. Wandering to the riverbank which – of course – has a weir across it, its curiously geometric span grabs your attention.

Engineering should be beautiful like this.

Bakewell Bridge | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire

One of the most attractive bridges I’ve ever seen… or maybe I’m just really into bridges??

The riverbank itself is a very nice walk. Fringed with green, the river Wye flows calmly through, quite civilly pouring over the weir to scatter over the riverbed rocks after. Ducks glide about, swim, and dip down to feed in flocks. People strolling about at leisure.

Ducks swimming upstream | Weir across stream | Bakewell | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire

Ducks in the river Wye

It isn’t really a surprise that I came back to Bakewell, is it?


Ducks dozing by the pond | Ashford-in-the-water | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire

Innocent ducks dozing in the dappled sun

Near to Bakewell is a little place called Ashford-in-the-Water. You drive all the way down the little road to the end, where there’s roadside parking in a sort of semi-circular cul-de-sec near a well. Here you find a clear, calm pond that my friend recalled was pleasant to splash in.

It was late afternoon and it was still pleasant – a rare sunny day. There were ducks here as well, but some of them were already tucked in by the shade and under their wings for a snooze in the dappled sun.

The day I found my way there, I had indeed been walking some.  Sitting down on the grassy bank, I took off my boots and my socks and dipped my toes in. The water was chill. But I left them in, and kicked about a bit. It’s the best feeling, you know?

The swans

There was a pair of swans in the pond together with the ducks. Big and graceful, long necks curved as they glided with that poise of swans, heads tilted to glance curiously at me. I smiled to see them.

Pair of swans | Bakewell | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire

Gangsta swans. Don’t be fooled by the pretty face…

As I sat, I thought I might as well have the snack I brought with me. I think it was some fruit – I can’t remember what kind – and Jaffa cakes. Yes I know I just said I didn’t have a sweet tooth. But Jaffa cakes have their own category, ok? It just does.

The swans became interested once I started on the Jaffa cakes. They swam over. I was, like the nerdy girl, so excited that these awesome beautiful popular creatures were like, coming over to talk to me! OMG!

OK I don’t know if I should have, but I gave them some Jaffa cake. Just the cake bit, not the orange chocolatey bit because I recalled something about not feeding chocolate to dogs. [Look. I don’t know what that has to do with swans. It’s just what came to mind.]

Kids, never feed the popular kids.

Their duck posse came over too and wanted a share. So I shared with them too.

And then, the swans wanted more. And more. So I gave them the stern talking-to that worked on the cattle.

The ducks were ok. They gave up when no Jaffa cake was forthcoming. But it did not work on the swans. And when I stopped giving them more cake, they began to snap at it from my hand. Then when they’d finished picking at it from the water, they pinched at my hand.

I tell you I scrambled away from the bank like lightning. But these swans are something else. They came out of the water after me, snapping at my calves wherever I went. I couldn’t decide whether to be thankful or distressed that no one else was around at the pond – not sure whether embarrassment or assistance was the priority here….

In the end it occurred to me to put the Jaffa cakes into my backpack. I zipped it up.

Then they gave up, went back in the water, and swam away in that deceptively stately way of swans.

How like people. Often those who are fairest on the outside, are the least grateful, and the cruelest to those who are kind. But because mankind is addicted to glamour, we excuse it.

Pond in Ashford-in-the-Water | Peak District National Park | Derbyshire

The crime scene

How the universe helped with my re-birth blues

I came to Derbyshire still feeling a little lost. It’s in travel that I get to sort these things at all, because work demands a certain side of me, my public side, that prevents me from focusing on myself. Furthermore at that time, there was a project in particular where it really mattered to innocent people that I hold everything together. But no one was there to help hold me together.

Bakewell | Ashford-in-the-Water | Peak District National Park | DerbyshireI guess that’s when you receive directly from the universe. A comforting, homely pocket was opened to me in this place, healing like a balm.

Was it all pleasant? Well, if I think about it, no! I cut a finger at the Manchester train station on my own razor and it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I got mobbed by cattle on the Monsal trail. And swans mugged me for Jaffa cake in Ashford-in-the-Water.

But, I also got pampered by the nicest elderly station officer who put plasters on my finger like I was his granddaughter. And I have to admit, the local animals’ antics did force me to zoom into the rush of the moment – and in that moment I was lifted from the sluggishness of a wet-winged new butterfly.

The new wings flapped a bit. And I learned a little bit more about how being a butterfly is different from being a caterpillar.

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31 Responses

  1. Love Bakewell, and love the Peak District in general. Especially the Chatsworth estate! If you’ve not visited already, you should come to Lincoln (my home city) which has buckets of character and history, all packaged up in quaint, cobbled streets. I think we’ve got the most magnificent cathedral in the world! :)

  2. Maggie says:

    I had only ever heard of the Bakewell tart, but it look like a lovely city (apart from the vicious swans)

  3. Katie says:

    Yes british swans and geese can be a bit vicious! I’m originally from the UK but have never been to Bakewell… it looks beautiful so will be putting it on my list of places to visit when I return. Also, jaffa cakes are a great day trip treat 😊 thanks for sharing!

    • Teja says:

      I loved the Peak District! I’m not entirely sure why… I mean, it’s lovely, but it’s something more than that! Some places just suit you, you know?

  4. Parampara says:

    You story reminds me some of my own embarrasing/funny incidences. Guess they are best gone, but they do make incredible stories!

  5. Haley says:

    what a beautiful town, and seemingly great food. I, myself, DO have a sweet tooth ;)
    but I guess now you know ….. neeevverr feed the animals ! lol I had to learn the hard way as well

  6. Meghan says:

    This looks like a great spot to spend the day! What a great little National Park. I love the bake spot you found in between the buildings. Such a unique and beautiful little spot. Definitely like to find places like this while traveling.

  7. Leslie says:

    I love all these beautiful pictures, I have never heard of this town in England before. I thought your experience with the swans were hilarious! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. Maegan says:

    We are planning a trip that will cover 3months in England. This will be on the list to see for sure!

  9. Alaska says:

    Hahaha, omg, yes, geese. They can be quite nasty. I really like the analogy to humans you drew with them. Looks like a really lovely place; I definitely appreciate the beauty of that bridge too. Wish more places in Canada had sweet architecture like that.
    I’d suggest including the country and even the county/district in the introductory paragraph as well. I don’t know how well-known Bakewell is, but I had no clue where it was, and it took me a bit of looking around your post to discover it was in England. Best to put it obviously in the intro so people aren’t wondering where the place you’re talking about is when they should be reading the post, haha. Thanks for sharing!

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