ASHFORD-IN-THE-WATER WELL DRESSINGS
The lovely riverside village of Ashford-in-the-Water, two miles north of Bakewell, lies on the route of the ancient Portway, one of the Peak District's oldest trackways. The beautiful low arched medieval Sheepwash Bridge, overhung by willow trees, was built on the site of the ford across the river. Sheep were driven into it before being thrown unceremoniously into the river to be washed prior to shearing.
In the 17th century it was crossed each week by hundreds of pack horses usually carrying malt from Derby. The bridge is no longer open to traffic and is a favourite spot where visitors can either feed the ducks, or gaze down into the clear waters to see if they can spot a rainbow trout.
On Trinity Sunday, Ashford celebrates the founding of the church. Following the service, there is a procession to bless the six wells that are dressed annually. It was at Sheepwash Well that well dressing was revived in 1930, but it petered out again and it was not until over twenty years later that it became firmly established.
The boards are soaked in the River Wye before being taken to the sites by tractor. Traditionally wells are dressed to a very high standard using only natural materials, but the themes do not adhere to any set pattern and over the years have covered a wide variety of subjects.
Holy Trinity Church Flower Festival takes place at the same time as the well dressings and is an event not to be missed. Hanging in the aisle of the church are four ‘virgin crants’, which were once carried at the funerals of unmarried girls. These are garlands made from white paper, cut to form rosettes, fixed to wooden frames, which were later hung above the pew where grieving relatives sat.
For further information on the village: www.ashfordinthewater.com
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ASHFORD-IN-THE-WATER WELL DRESSINGS 2010
Located between Bakewell and Buxton, off the A6. Run from 29 May to 6 June during 2010. Blessing 30 May throughout the village starting at 3pm. Construction 22/28 May. Information: 01629 813464.
Bull's Head: (Tel. 01629 812931) a fine old coaching inn with roses round the door and seats outside. Open for food every lunchtime and all evenings apart from Thursdays.
The lovely village of Ashford-in-the-Water nestles on the banks of the River Wye as it slowly meanders its way south towards Bakewell.
An outstanding walk at first gently climbing up to Monsal Head from where you get one of the best views in Derbyshire.
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