Bakewell has been a name that has long been familiar to me in a pleasing manner, perhaps I am thinking of the delightful Bakewell Tarts and Cherry Bakewells! But the cakes actually originate from a small town called Bakewell, situated in the picturesque Peak District, Derbyshire.
A coach company was offering day trips and so, one bank holiday, my mum and I embarked on such a journey to this popular tourist spot.
Traffic ran smoothly until we entered the boundary of the popular Peak District. And then there was a queue of cars heading much of the way into Bakewell. It was a bank holiday after all and it appeared everyone had the same idea. Lovely hot day, time off work and school – let’s go to Bakewell.
So we were later than expected but with still plenty of time for lunch, sight-seeing and a bite to eat before heading home.
Ready for a cup of tea and even more so for a slice of Bakewell Tart (what else?!), we picked a small contemporary but cosy vegetarian cafe called Because I Like It.
Despite the fact Bakewell is not a large town, despite the fact we arrived about 1pm, and despite the fact the town was heaving with day-trippers and tourists (there also seemed to be a large proportion of canine companions too), it still felt as if we were spoilt for choice when it came to eateries. Obviously Bakewell Tart was a must-have for lunch – but what was this Bakewell Pudding I kept seeing?
We stuck to ‘just’ the Bakewell Tart, although maybe for reasons of writing this review, I should have sampled the pudding too…
Anyway, once refreshed with the local delicacy, we had a wander around town. And after a visit to Edinburgh Woollen Mill (Mum is a big fan), among other shops, it was time for culture.
All Saints Parish Church is a venue of much interest. Dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, but originally founded in 920AD, the current church was mostly rebuilt in the 1840s. Amongst its historical curiosities are a 14th century font and a parish chest dating from the same period. The originator of Bakewell Pudding, Ann Greaves, is also buried here. She will be mentioned again later on…
Interestingly, the west wall and the first set of nave arches are the only remains from the Norman Church.
A craft fair, five minutes away from the town centre, was our next port of call. Walking through a delightful park to get to the fair, we meandered around the stalls where there were many quality handmade goods for sale.
Time was ticking on, we ventured into The Original Bakewell Pudding Shop, a large establishment combining an upstairs restaurant, a deli and cafe, complete with outside sitting area. We opted for quiche and salad, eating it outside in the pleasant courtyard. And it was scrumptious.
According to the Pudding Shop’s website, the cafe was once a cottage, lived in by a Mrs Wilson, wife of a tallow chandler. She obtained the recipe of the bakewell pudding and began to sell them. The building is believed to have been built in the 1600s and originally owned by the Duke of Rutland.
We didn’t go into the Bakewell Pudding Factory, although I was intrigued. A pudding parlour, how quaint and old-fashioned!
Another point of interest is the 1200s five-arched bridge which crosses the River Wye and was widened in the 19th century. It’s also possible to stroll along the river although we did not have the time.
I would definitely go back to Bakewell, but not on a bank holiday. I can see why it’s popular, it’s a lovely little town full of character, but personally, I do find crowds a little off-putting. But go on a day when it is ‘off-peak’ season? Yes, definitely. Not just a day, I would most certainly be happy to spend a few days there. After all, I haven’t tried Bakewell Pudding yet! And that is on my Bucket List!
Thanks to Hodder Executive Travel which offers a range of day excursions (for example Cheshire Oaks and Beamish Museum) and holidays. They pick up from various venues in the East Lancashire area. Prices vary per trip. It costs £17 (adult) and £11 (child) to visit Bakewell.
Facts of the Day
1. A Bakewell tart has a shortcrust pastry shell under layers of jam, frangipane and flaked almonds. It developed as a variant of Bakewell Pudding in the 20th century.
2. Bakewell Pudding is a dessert with flaky pastry base, a layer of sieved jam and a topping of egg and almond paste. It is said to have been made by accident in 1820 or 1860 by Mrs Greaves, landlady of the White Horse Inn. The cook was apparently given instructions to make a jam tart, but stirred eggs and almond paste on top of the jam instead of into the pastry.
3. Cherry Bakewell is a version of the tart. Almond-flavour fondant covers the frangipane while a cherry rests on top.