|Within the 500-or-so square miles of the Peaks, which is richly blessed with wildlife and distinctive flora, you will come across places such as Castleton, famous for its fabulous caves; the ever-courteous county town of Matlock, Matlock Bath with its exciting Heights of Abraham and fascinating museums; Eyam, one of the best preserved villages in the Peaks which is celebrated as the 'plague village' after its population went into voluntary quarantine in 1665 as the Black Death swept north from London; and Buxton, an old spa town with one of the country's finest Georgian crescents.|
|The Derbyshire Dales are further south and include The White Peak and the Hope Valley, a riotously varied landscape of gorges, cliffs, caves, pure-water streams and idyllic hamlets with duck ponds and tourist-friendly manor houses.
The Baroque mansion Chatsworth House, near Bakewell, is certainly the most famous stately home in the Peaks. Known locally as the Palace of the Peak , it was built in the late 17th century to replace an earlier house created by Bess of Hardwick. Its luxuriously grounds were landscaped by none other than Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in 1760.
|You could be forgiven for thinking that south Derbyshire was essentially a place of trains, planes and automobiles, but its role in the industrial life of the British Isles has much greater significance.
The first working factory in the UK was John and Thomas Lombe's Silk Mill established in Derby in 1720. (Factory = large machinery-filled multi-storey building with a large workforce, 300 in this case, with fixed working hours). The idea was copied over 50 years later by Arkwright.
The hub of this 18th century activity was a 15-mile stretch of the River Derwent, where water power and new-fangled mechanisation came together on a large scale for the first time, revolutionising textile production under the ever-watchful guidance of men like Richard Arkwright and Jedediah Strutt. Not only did they build factories but also entire villages, changing forever the relationship between the 'master' and his workforce.
Today this remarkable history is preserved in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, which runs from Masson, at Matlock Bath, to Cromford, Belper, Milford and Darley Abbey and Derby.
|The bustling city of Derby became the home of Royal Crown Derby porcelain, but even this was to be overshadowed by the manufacture of locomotives and, of course, the name of Rolls-Royce, a company which not only created the world's most celebrated motor car but also aero engines.
Each of these notable industries has its own museum but there are many other places to visit. Among them are the Amber and Erewash valleys which contain, with many other attractions, the impressive Midland Railway Centre and the wondrous Crich Tramway Museum.
Samuel Slater, originally a Belper apprentice, travelled to Pawtucket in Rhode Island to establish America's modern cotton industry.