This summer has seen two open top bus services introduced offering scenic rides around the Peak District National Park not far from Sheffield. Your editor had a ride round on the 1 July launch day and started thinking about the pubs and breweries along the route!
The afternoon began by catching the TM Travel bus 218 (Sheffield to Bakewell via Totley) as far as Baslow, where both the open top bus services call at the same stop. Baslow has a number of pubs, although most appear to be hotels with a public bar and restaurant.
Within just a few minutes of arriving at Baslow’s Nether End bus stop, one of the Stagecoach “Peak Sightseer” open top tour buses appeared. This operates on a circular route between Chatsworth House and Bakewell at 30 minutes intervals. Leaving Baslow, it is routed via Curbar to Calver, passing the Eyre Arms then doing a loop manoeuvre around the cross roads to then change direction and climbing up hill a little for the longer, mostly rural run to Bakewell, where I alighted.
In Bakewell I decided to spend half an hour before the next “Peak Sightseer” came through by enjoying a pint in the Joiners Arms. This small bar, which offers a range of craft beers on both cask and keg is under the same ownership as the Dronfield Arms which is home to Temper Brewing and it is one of their beers I chose. The day of my trip coincided with Bakewell Carnival so the town was busy and people had got their spots outside ready for the procession to come through later!
Boarding the other one of the two vehicles on the “Peak Sightseer” service, the bus left Bakewell via the A6 Buxton Road and passed the business park that is home to Thornbridge Brewery, where if I had more time I could have gone to visit their tap room to sample a few beers and order a pizza!
The next location along the route is Ashford in the Water where we passed two pubs across the road from one another, although one was closed with the now familiar pub company sign advertising it as available to lease. The Bulls Head however was open, this is an old coaching Inn owned by Robinsons Brewery.
The next landmark along the route is at Hassop where the bus crosses over the Monsal Trail, this used to be a railway running from London to Manchester via Matlock and Buxton but is now a popular walking and cycling trail and the old Hassop station is now a cafe. The bus continues via Pilsley and stops by the Chatsworth farm shop before turning off the main road and onto the Chatsworth estate, up the drive to the house.
The bus has a short 5 minute break at the Chatsworth House stop before setting off around the circular route again and heading down to Baslow, passing Peak Ales brewery as it heads down the hill!
Having completed the Peak Sightseer route, I wanted to try the other open top bus service, “The Breezer” operated by local independent bus company Hulleys of Baslow. This is a more traditional bus service rather than a circular tour, running from Baslow to Castleton via Calver Sough, Grindleford, Longshaw, Hathersage and Hope then returning the same way. Most people in Sheffield know about Surprise view before heading downhill into Hathersage and this offers the opportunity to enjoy it on an open top bus!
Unfortunately there was a good hour or so until the next “Breezer” leaving Baslow and was keen to get to the Hope Valley to do my Beer Matters magazine deliveries to a couple of pubs there so I joined the regular bus 257 after a wait of less than 10 minutes for a scenic ride on a modern single decker. The departure I joined was the one a day which goes a different route to normal, after Eyam if went via Foolow, Great Hucklow, Bradwell and Hope where it dropped me off.
There are three pubs in Hope. I had a pint and delivered Beer Matters magazines at the Old Hall Hotel which is known for hosting beer festivals most bank holiday weekends as well as the pub having a restaurant, tea room and accommodation. Just across the road is the Woodroffe Arms, owned by Greene King and a short walk down the Edale road will bring you to the Cheshire Cheese Inn, a classic rural pub with a good beer garden!
From Hope I joined “The Breezer” open top bus which had left Castleton a few minutes previous bound for Baslow and enjoyed a short run down the Hope Valley as far as Hathersage.
In Hathersage it was a visit to the Little John Hotel to deliver their Beer Matters magazine as well as enjoy a pint and a bite to eat.
There are a number of other venues in Hathersage including the George and Scotsman’s Pack in the village and the Plough Inn a little bit of a walk down the road to Leadmill Bridge, I could also have joined the final “Breezer” open top bus trip of the day back down to Baslow, however time was running out and I needed to be home to get ready for evening plans so joined a Sheffield bound train back from Hathersage!
The Stagecoach “Peak Sightseer” open top bus tour costs £6 for adults and £4 for concessions with a ticket allowing you to hop on and hop off as much as you like during the day.
All the other normal local buses in the area, including the Hulleys “Breezer” open top service currently cost £2 per ride and also accept English National Concession Senior Citizen and disabled passes. Alternatively you can buy a “Derbyshire Wayfarer” pass for the day offering unlimited travel on most local buses in Derbyshire (including direct links from Sheffield) for £8, or there is an option also including trains for £14. With the Wayfarer pass you can buy the Peak Sightseer ticket at the discounted price of £4.
DAYS OF OPERATION
- The “Peak Sightseer” runs daily until 30 September then weekends only up to Christmas Eve.
- “The Breezer” runs on Saturdays and Sundays, plus weekdays during the school holidays, with the last day of operation 3 September. Please be aware that Hulleys only have one open top vehicle so from time to time this may be substituted with a regular bus.