What is the first thing which springs to mind after you've Derbyshire? There's half a chance you may be thinking of the Peak District National Park. Its plethora of tourist attractions. Blue John, and the said mineral from Treak Cliff Cavern. The Pennine Way. Or its industrial heritage. Maybe all of the aforementioned aspects in some form, which explains why Britain's oldest and second most popular National Park is held in such high esteem.
Derbyshire has a good number of market towns. In the High Peak, Glossop and New Mills are convenient gateways into the Peak District. A little further south is the spa town of Buxton, with a number of tourist attractions. These include the Opera House and Pavilion Gardens, and Poole's Cavern. On the eastern side of Derbyshire, why not visit Chesterfield, see its crooked spire and wander around its open market? Matlock and Matlock Bath have a host of visitor attractions. In the latter place, why not take a cable car ride to the Heights of Abraham or visit The Peak District Mining Museum?
Close to where the Peak District meets the Staffordshire Moorlands, just 22 miles south of Buxton is Ashbourne. It is a historic market town noted for its picturesque setting, and annual Royal Shrovetide football match. This has been contested since the 12th century, with no limit on the number of players and the playing area.
There is no shortage of stately homes within this county. His Grace, the Duke of Devonshire's desirable residence, Chatsworth House is always worth a visit. As well as the hall and the gardens, it is known for the Emperor Fountain and other giant water features. To the north east is Hardwick Hall, a striking late-Elizabethan hall noted for its large windows. Derbyshire isn't short of castles either: not far from Hardwick Hall is Bolsover Castle. Above the village of Castleton is Peveril Castle.
There is more to Derbyshire besides beautiful scenery, stately homes and excellent walking country. It has a number of first rate conference venues, either inside or outside the Peak National Park boundaries. Some of which are in visitor attractions like Chatsworth House, palatial hotels and more modern surroundings.
Derbyshire's not only blessed with hotels. There's a number of camping barns and Youth Hostels, plus the Youth Hostel Association offers meeting rooms. Losehill Hall in Castleton is one example.
For many visitors, Castleton is a popular destination. It is a good starting point for visiting its caves. From there, The Devil's Arse (Peak Cavern) is a short walk from the village centre. Also nearby is Treak Cliff, Blue John, Bagshawe and Speedwell caverns. Treak Cliff Cavern has the only natural occuring deposits of Blue John.
Derbyshire's industrial heritage and post-industrial era is best epitomised by the restored Cromford Mills. As well as offering guided tours throughout the mills, it has a number of shops and restaurants. The county's mining heritage is best represented by the Magpie Mine, a former lead mine near Sheldon.
Derbyshire's Transport heritage is best represented by two preserved lines (Peak Rail and the Midland Railway Centre), Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre, and the Crich Tramway Village. As well as having an extensive collection of trams, there is a number of restored buildings, transferred from previous locations brick by brick. You can even learn to drive one of the exhibits!
The county plays host to two Football League sides (Chesterfield and Derby County) and both have modern stadia. The homes of both the Spireites and the Rams are also conference venues in their own right. Non-league football sides in the county include Glossop North End, New Mills, Alfreton Town and Matlock Town.
Without a doubt, Derbyshire has something for everyone, whether you like shopping, walking, looking at old trams or sporting events. The eastern side of Derbyshire is well connected by road and rail, with the M1 and Midland Main Line offering fast northbound and southbound connections. Regular trains connect the Peak District with Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham thanks largely to the Hope Valley line via Edale.
As inspiring conference venues go, Derbyshire is too good to miss.