Review of ‘Peak Village Insider's Guide’, by Tom Bates

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 14th August 2006, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Tom Bates
Printed by Chevinside Publications (2006)

Some publications about the Peak are written by admiring 'outsiders' but it takes a resident author to add that extra passion and eye for detail. Writer Tom Bates kicks off an imaginative new venture close to home with this, his first set of village guides. Each one opens out into six pages illustrated in colour (might there be space for a village map in future editions?) A few tasters from the various texts explain when and why prehistoric sites around Beeley came into being, moving forward in time to studies of old industries and historic buildings.

A tour of Birchover reveals a connection with three of the most famous buildings in the land ... typically for the whole series, the author sees Birchover through a walker's eyes, whether uncovering local legends or admiring an Open Gardens Weekend.

Of Darley Dale, we learn that this one parish holds the secret of a toad, two trees, a pioneering engineer, steam trains and a carriage museum. Moving up-river to Rowsley, research into local dwellings takes fascinating priority over its stately neighbours of Haddon and Chatsworth. The identity of the oldest structure in the village may come as a surprise, while a name is put at last to the mason who carved two of Rowsley's best loved features.

Stanton-in-Peak earns merits for its parish church, village pub and cricket ground along with 'unexpected little courtyards and quaint corners' and the evocative Bronze Age site of Stanton Moor.

The Peak Villages Insider's Guides will eventually cover 65 different villages and Tom Bates can be relied upon to discover the true merits of each and every one.

Review by Julie Bunting

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