There is evidence of pre-historic settlers in the caves round Buxton, but it is the Romans who created the first real impact on the area. Precisely when they settled in Buxton is uncertain, but it was around AD78 when forts were established nearby at Navio and Melandra.
Poole’s Cavern on the south western outskirts of the town, is a large natural cave once used by the Romans and pre-historic man. Above, is Grin Low Country Park, where rare species of wild plants, including field orchids can be found, which resulted in it being awarded a Site of Special Scientific Interest Status. At the top of the hill, Solomon’s Temple was built in 1896 by Solomon Mycock to give work to some of the unemployed in Buxton. The Victorian folly stands on the site of a Bronze Age burial mound.
Visitors to the historic spa town of Buxton have, for centuries, explored the magnificent underground chambers of Poole’s Cavern. ‘The First Wonder of the Peak’ and witnessed first hand the incredible stalactites, stalagmites and crystal flowstone that has earned the showcave the title of ‘most spectacular cavern in Derbyshire’.
The cavern itself (one of the few natural showcaves in the region once echoed to the sound of underground water which scoured the rock for millions of years. The River Wye still flows through the cave for part of the year. Dripping rainwater dissolving limestone for thousands of years to produce calcite crystals has created spectacular formations including the longest stalactite in the Peaks (the 6.5ft ‘Flitch of Bacon’) and the unique 'poached egg' stalagmites.
Mary Queen of Scots visited the cave in 1582 and even named one of the formations. Many eminent visitors have described their visit to Poole’s Cavern (or Poole’s Hole as it was called) including Daniel Dafoe, John Wesley and more recently Sir John Betjeman. Ben Rose in his ‘Guide to Buxton’ in 1890 wrote: “…for variety and beauty of decoration there is no cavern in the kingdom to compare with this subterranean temple.”
Over 3000 years ago, Stone Age cave-dwellers sheltered in the cave. Romans worshipped and traded here and legend tells of a medieval outlaw, Poole, who sought refuge in the cave with his treasure. Archaeologists have discovered thousands of remains, many of which are on display in the visitor centre and in Buxton Museum in the town. In recent years, ground- penetrating radar discovered a whole cave system beyond the existing showcave that has thus far proved inaccessible. Although nobody has yet been able to get though, cameras were dropped down a drilled borehole in 1998 to capture the first ever images of these unexplored chambers.
Images supplied by Poole's Cavern.
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The Cavern is located on the south western outskirts of Buxton.
Guided tours are provided of the limestone cavern, famous for its stalactites and stalagmites. Ancient remains show the Romans worshipped here.
There is a large car park, toilets, shop and drinks facilities available. Open daily, closed for Christmas and the New Year. To experience the magical underworld for yourself call 01298 26978 or visit their website at: www.poolescavern.co.uk for further details.
A new high wire forest adventure course will be opening at Easter 2007 in the woodlands directly above the cavern. Admission to Go Ape allows visitors to spend a fun-filled three hours up in the trees, trekking from tree to tree via an assortment of rope bridges and Tarzan swings.
To compliment the town’s newest attraction, a brand new visitor centre will provide a stylish new cafeteria, shop and exhibition centre. For more details visit www.goape.co.uk or call 0870 444 5562.
PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Buxton Pavilion Gardens (Tel. 01298 23114) the Pavilion Gardens is a Grade II listed park covering 23 acres of landscaped gardens in the centre of Buxton. Edward Milner designed and laid out the park, on land given to the town in the 1870s. Recently the gardens have been restored, with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery (Tel. 01298 24658) award winning ‘Wonders of the Peak’ gallery. Programme of temporary exhibitions and displays. Well stocked shop. Open all year Tuesday to Saturday and Bank Holidays. Telephone for further information.
Buxton Opera House (Tel. 0845 12 72190) designed by Frank Matcham in grand Edwardian style, was completed in 1905. Following a period when it had fallen into disuse, it was lovingly restored in 1979, and re-opened as an opera house. In the same year the Buxton International Festival of Music and Arts was born, which has developed into one of this country’s largest opera-based festivals
DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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