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10 things to do in Chesterfield

Chesterfield is a town that is constantly growing and there is so much for any visitor to experience when they come to the area.

Whether it’s history, shopping, exploring, culture or entertaining, Chesterfield really does have it all. It’s also the gateway to the Peak District National Park which offers breath-taking views and fantastic opportunities for activities such as cycling, walking and wildlife watching

Whether you’re passing through on your way to the Peak District or spending time in this historic market town, here are top 10 things to do while you’re visiting Chesterfield.

1.    Climb the world-famous crooked spire –  The bent and twisted spire of Chesterfield All Saints Church is one of the most famous sights of the town. Dating back to the 14th century, the debate still wages on over whether the distinctive spire was accident, a design, or a bit of both. 

Tours of the church are available from Monday to Saturday however it is advised that you contact the Verger on 01246 206860 to confirm times. As part of the tour you’ll get to learn about the Church’s history and take a trip up the bell tower to the base of the famous spire. Here, you’ll be able to see it up close as well as get a bird’s eye view of the town.

2.    Shop at the historic market – Chesterfield’s town centre is not only home to plenty of high street and independent shops, but also a historic outdoor market to explore. It dates back to 1204 and is one of the largest outdoor markets in the country selling everything from cutlery to carpets, shirts to shoes and pans to potatoes every Monday, Friday and Saturday regardless of the weather.

On Thursdays the market is home to the popular flea market, which is fast becoming one of the largest in the country. Also, on the second Thursday of every month, it’s joined by a Farmer’s Market selling organic vegetables, rare breed meat, fish, Derbyshire honey, homemade cakes and cheese.

If that wasn’t enough to get your taste-buds tingling, on the last Sunday of every month an Artisan Market comes to town selling home-baked treats and handmade goods.

3.    Experience a Chesterfield FC match at the Proact Stadium –The Proact Stadium opened in 2010 at a cost of £13 million, replacing Chesterfield FC’s historic home ground at Saltergate. The old stadium had served the Spireites for the best part of 140 years until it closed, leaving behind some fantastic memories for the club.

The new ground for the Sky Bet League One side has incredible facilities and has a capacity of 8,504, giving it a match day atmosphere that is hard to beat.

The first class conference facilities there allow the ground to host a number of concerts, black tie events and gigs. Notable artists who have played at The Proact include Sir Tom Jones and Sir Elton John who rocked a sell-out crowd of more than 15,000 people back in 2012.

4.    Explore Cuckoo Way – Only eight miles of the 46-mile length of this historic canal remain to be re-opened. It links Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and flows right into Basin Square within Chesterfield Waterside.  

Cuckoo Way, the path that runs alongside the canal, covers the whole 46-mile route and has been described as one of the finest canal walks in the country for both cyclists and walkers. The canal itself is perfect for kayaking and boating.

The full length of the canal will soon be navigable for the first time in over one hundred years thanks to the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s Closing the Gap campaign. Visitors will be able to start or end their trip along Cuckoo Way in Basin Square where they’ll be able to enjoy a drink or a spot of lunch at the bars or simple sit and watch the world go by.

5.    Explore eateries on Chatsworth Road – Chatsworth Road is the gateway to the Peak District from Chesterfield, however it is full of fantastic array of places to eat and drink.

With so many independent pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and coffee shops on the road, you are bound to find something that takes your fancy.

Real Ale lovers can choose from the Tramway Tavern, The Rose and Crown and The Tap House. There’s even a micro-brewery – Brampton Brewery, which has a shop where you can pick up some bottles of its finest brews. Cocktail and wine lovers will feel right at home in the stylish interiors of Petite Maison and Nonnas. You can even indulge in some delicious food while you’re there.

If tea, coffee and cake is more your thing, then a visit to Northern Tea Merchants Meringue and Koo is a must.

If you haven’t got time to stop though, don’t worry as there are plenty of tasty treats you can pick up and take home with you, including authentic Italian from Lambarelli, traditional fish and chips and Indian food to eat in or take away.

6.    Travel back in time at Chesterfield Museum – For a town full of history, it’s only right to have a museum that really tells Chesterfield’s story right from Roman times.

Chesterfield’s industrial heritage dominates this fascinating museum which is free to enter. Chesterfield’s adopted son and father of the railways, George Stephenson often puts in an appearance himself!

Upstairs, the art gallery shows visitors the creative and expressive side of the town. The gallery displays work from a range of different artists that come from the Chesterfield area as well as a collection of objects relating to George Stephenson and his family.

7.    Go back to nature at Linacre Reservoirs – The three reservoirs at Linacre were built between 1805 and 1904 and, between them, hold more than 240 million gallons of water.

The peaceful setting means the site abounds with wildlife. Nuthatches, flycatchers and woodpeckers can be seen and heard as they flit among the canopy. You can also spot Kingfishers and mandarin ducks around the water’s edge.

A network of paths and bridleways around the reservoirs are accessible and open to walkers, cyclists and horses. There is even a boardwalk so you can get across the water with ease.

8.    Stroll through The Shambles – Located next to the Chesterfield Market, The Shambles is one of the most historic shopping areas within the town centre. It dates back to the middle ages and was where the locals would buy their meat from. The name ‘Shambles’ comes from ‘flesh-shambles which is thought to originate from the word ‘Fleshammels’ (flesh shelves).

Today, the butchers are long gone, but what you’ll find is a treasure trove of independent shops, cafes and one of Britain’s oldest pubs, The Royal Oak, which was once a rest house for the knights Templar Crusaders.

9.    Catch a show at Chesterfield Theatres – It may be a small town, but Chesterfield has not one, but two theatres – The Winding Wheel and the Pomegranate Theatre. Whether it’s a film, musical, tribute act, comedian, play or pantomime, there is something for everyone at Chesterfield Theatres. 

The Pomegranate Theatre is the older of the two buildings and was first opened in 1879 as a memorial hall for the famous engineer, George Stephenson, however, was developed into a theatre just 10 years later. Today it still boasts many of the original Victorian features.

May a real evening of it by enjoy a pre or post show dinner or drink at one of the many bars or restaurants on the doorstep of the Theatres which are literally over the road from each other.

10.  Go back to the age of steam at Barrow Hill Roundhouse – If you’re a train spotter, then a visit to Barrow Hill is a must as it boasts Britain’s last surviving working Roundhouse.

The Roundhouse in Staveley was built in 1870 as a maintenance centre for steam locomotives where engines were repaired. As steam engines were replaced with diesel, many roundhouses became redundant and were demolished. This was nearly the case for Barrow Hill but it was saved at the eleventh hour and has since received a huge Heritage Lottery Grant of £1,170,600. There are mow plans to create a new entrance, shop and café as well as a dedicated learning space for meetings and workshops.

The Roundhouse is open to visitors all year-round and hosts special event days where famous steam trains, The Flying Scotsman and Mallard, haven been known to make an appearance. For real ale lovers, Barrow Hill Roundhouse also hosts its annual Rail Ale festival every May and has recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of the festival.

Whether it’s food, history, sport, theatre or countryside, there is something for everyone to enjoy in and around Chesterfield. For more information about what’s on in the area, please visit here.


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Peter Swallow,
Managing Director, Bolsterstone Group Plc.

36 The Bridge Business Centre
Beresford Way
Chesterfield S41 9FG
Tel: 01246 260206
Fax: 01246 260237