“ Youlgreave or Youlgrave is a village in the Derbyshire Peak District, lying on the River Bradford, four kilometres south of Bakewell. Both spellings are used on different local signposts and on different maps. The village is locally known as "Pommie". Formerly known for lead mining (see Derbyshire lead mining history), Youlgreave is known for its mediaeval parish church with a twelfth century font. It has held an annual music festival since 2001. „
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Another pretty and bustling village located in Derbyshires Peak District is Youlgreave. We came to be passing a few weeks ago when a friend was going to the church there to do some bell ringing. He invited us to go with him and have a look around the village while he played. We sat outside the pubs to listen to see how the bells sounded and also had a wander up and down the village to see it all. It wasnt the first time we had visited the place but it was the first time we had got quite a bit of time to look around.
~~~WHERE IS YOULGREAVE?
The village of Youlgreave is in the White Peak area of the Peak District. It can be found approximately four miles south of Bakewell on the edge of the River Bradford. It can be reached by public transport via Bakewell and is also accessible by car; although the main street is rather narrow and is often already pretty full of cars!
~~~A BIT OF HISTORY AND BACKGROUND.
Strangely Youlgreave is known by a couple of different spellings and names. On the signs it is spelt two different ways as either Youlgreave or Youlgrave. This is thought to be derived from Iolograf the Anglo Saxon word for Yellow Grove. In the Domesday Book the village is called Giolgrave. Locally (so the folks in one of the pubs in a neighbouring village told us) it is known as Pommie this apparently comes from the history of the village brass band. The story says that to begin with not many of them new the music (or how to play their instruments to well) so, when they played, they just played pom, pom, pom, pom, pom over and over again!
The village used to be a hive of industry; the main industry being Lead Mining. Now this doesnt happen, but there are still a couple of working mines nearby which now extract fluorspar and calcite rather than lead. The main source of employment locally is now farming and tourism (the surrounding countryside provides good arable land and the Peak District has lots of hotels and tourist sites). Near the village you will find Long Rake this was a heavily worked mine seam. Many of the local guide books (and websites) will provide you with some walks around the surrounding area, many of which will take you near some of these old mining areas.
~~~WHAT IS THERE TO SEE IN YOULGREAVE?
The dominant part of the village is undoubtedly the church. All Saints has a good set of bells in the tower (I can vouch for that after hearing them played for an hour)! It is quite a large church (one of the largest in the Peaks) and it dates from Norman times the building is thought to have been built between 1130 and 1150. It is an impressive church which has some good medieval features, including a Norman arcade. The tall tower is a later addition (from the 15th century) but there are other noteworthy things to look at too. These include the fragments of glass in the stained glass window these are medieval and were bought back from Ypres in Belgium after being rescued from a ruined cathedral. Also look out for the 13th century font, the carved medieval pilgrim by the door and the church registers and accounts which have entries dating back to 1558; entries include the recording of the death of Elizabeth I and the monies paid out the Dog Whippers in 1709. Unusually for churches these days, All Saints is kept open for visitors at all times.
As well as the church there are some lovely buildings and cottages in the village; including some very nice Georgian houses around the church area. These are mostly found on either side of the central, narrow main street through Youlgreave. Incidentally, this street is VERY narrow with no pavement (there is a white line marking the narrow pedestrian zone) and there are often cars parked on either side. In busier summer months it can be a little perilous navigating your well from one end of the street to the other, but it IS worth it! The safest place to walk is through the churchyard and a visit at night-fall will give you the opportunity to see the bats flying we stood quietly for a while and it was amazing to see them swooping around our heads; I could even feel the breeze as they almost touched me!
Head down from the church to the Market place and you will find the circular water tank this dates from 1829 and supplied water to the village (the original charge for this fresh water was 6d). The tank is known in the village as The Fountain and was built after a campaign by the Friendly Society of Women for fresh, clean water. Each year (in June) you will find the Fountain decorated with flowers this is a tradition locally and is known as Well Dressing.
Near the Market place there is also the Thimble Hall. This is thought to be the smallest hall in the country and only has one room on the ground and one on the upper floor! Near here is also the local Youth Hostel, which is housed in an old Victorian structure that was once the villages Co-op as my dissertation for my history and English degree was about D H Lawrence, it was a treat to visit because this shop (and the village in general) featured in The Virgin and the Gypsy. Take a close look at the building and spot the etched windows and the beehive carved out of stone, which was the symbol of the Co-operative Society. If you decide to stay in the Youth Hostel you will also discover that the rooms are named after some of the departments that you could find in the old store.
It was only a matter of time before I got onto the pubs! Fear not there are three pubs in Youlgreave where you can get food and a good pint of Real Ale. The George is opposite the church (this is where we sat to listen to the bell ringing) they have a good selection of beers and some interesting food on the menu, including local produce (rabbit pie and game are often featured). This is a comfy pub that seems to be popular with the local community. Out of the three in the village this is probably my favourite. Further down the road there are also the Bulls Head and the Farmyard to visit, both of which are nice, but dont seem to get as busy as the George the Bulls Head seems to be more for tourists and seems to cater more for the food and B&B side of things.
Shops wise, Youlgreave is pretty well catered for. There are a few shops selling groceries, a couple of butchers, a gift shop and a Post Office (nice to see a village that hasnt had its local PO closed down). There is also a local Recreation Ground where local football and cricket teams play. We did find that the pubs also did take-away food including chips and pizzas, but there isnt a tea room in the village for your afternoon cuppa!
Youlgreave is a very nice village in a lovely part of the country. It is an excellent location for exploring Derbyshire and the Peaks and is accessible by public transport (although having a car would be an advantage if you want to get further afield). There are a surprising amount of shops and facilities for so small a place and the number of pubs offers a good choice of places to eat, drink and stay. The Youth Hostel is also a good feature that gives an excellent base for those on a budget. We are lucky enough to be close enough to visit for the day, but a few days there would be fine. There are quite a few things to do in the village and enough walks and things to look at to warrant a visit a week may be too long unless you have the transport to get around!
Unfortunately you really need the weather to be ok to fully explore and appreciate the village. The church in particular is best visited on a fine day the stained glass windows are best with a bit of bright light shining through and a walk around the churchyard needs it to be dry. The village as a whole, as with most places, looks better on a good, dry summer day. It is also easier to get about by foot if it doesnt rain.
I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the pretty village of Youlgreave however you spell it, its really worth a look!
The nearest Tourist Information centre is in Bakewell.
Tel: 01629 813227