Youlgreave Derbyshire – A Quick Travel Guide

Wild swimming in the River Bradford Youlgreave Derbyshire UK


Youlgreave, a discreet Derbyshire town that might’ve been invented for people like us to take a little picturesque stroll along a river and swiftly end up in a pub. With a fire. And for that it perfectly delivers.

In fact, that was our inclination the day we dropped in on Youlgreave (or Youlgrave to locals) but it turns out you get a bit more bang for your buck than I had previously imagined. So, although I initially thought the merits of this cute little town were numerous enough to be written on a very small post-it-note, I have since decided that Youlgreave, Derbyshire deserved a blog post all of its own. That’s a lot of post-it-notes.

Welcome to our square yellow Youlgreave Guide!

The Delightful Little Village of Youlgreave Derbyshire

Youlgrave - pretty towns in Derbyshire

Sat on a limestone shelf above the slopes of Lathkill Dale, this quaint Peak District town is a handsome collection of country cottages and sweet-spot views. If you were considering a little holiday in Derbyshire we think Youlgreave in the White Peaks would make a pretty good base. We discovered some lovely cottages for rent in the village and a few with amazing views over the dales. Check here for some of the best deals on Youlgreave holiday cottages…

(Several of these Youlgreave cottages are also on a website called and we would advise you do not book through them – ourselves and others we know have recently had our holiday bookings cancelled by them only days before our holiday because they over-book on multiple sites – we would recommend booking with

Nearby mines originally attracted a community here, centuries ago, and the village continued to thrive, especially in the Victorian era. You may notice the massive well-like structure in the centre of the village, adjacent to the Bulls Head pub – this is, in fact, a type of reservoir that began to supply the village from 1829. Over a kilometre of pipes from nearby Mawstone Spring filled the reservoir each evening and at 6am a ‘waterkeeper’ unlocked the tap to allow the queue of waiting ladies to fill their pails. This crucial commodity made the fountain a popular local meeting place and a little market was held here.

So what is it about Youlgreave that we love so much?

Thimble Hall Youlgeave – The Smallest Detached House In The World?

thimble hall in Youlgreave - the worlds smallest house. In Derbyshire.

You cannot help but coo over Youlgreave’s collection of cute country cottages, but nestled among them all is Thimble Hall. According to Wikipedia it is the smallest detached house there is – now whether that means in the world, in Derbyshire or even on the street it does not quantify, but whatever, it certainly is tiny. There’d be no room for a Yucca plant at Thimble Hall and you’d never be allowed a CD tower but apparently there was a time that 8 people lived here!

It even made the national news in 1999 when its 120 square feet sold for £39,500 after several international bids by telephone at auction. There was even a little rumour that Uri Geller was amongst the bidders too.

So what of its fate? It currently stands a little rundown but there was a news report which alleged it could soon be turned into a tiny museum… for thimbles! How quaint.

Youlgreave Wild Swimming

These are Jenny’s boys ( dipping their toes in – she wrote a much more detailed article about Youlgreave swimming if you’d like more information.

We’d opted for a river walk on our trip to Youlgreave as the paths were assuredly flat and not requiring wellies after all the rain we’d had. These promises were fulfilled but perhaps we should have brought our swimsuits instead?

There is a little designated area in the River Bradford set aside for wild swimming! A gentle current flowing over the limestone rocks keeps the water very clean, albeit rather cold, and a very little waterfall adds even more excitement to the paddling children. If you’re looking for places to take the kids wild swimming in Derbyshire then look no further. Many head to Chatsworth in the summer months for a family dip but I think I prefer the layout of the area around this wild swimming zone – far fewer people, shallower waters that even toddlers could play in and a lovely bank-side perfect for a picnic. And, if this wasn’t enough to tempt the children there is even a resident ice cream kiosk 50 metres away.

Youlgreave Walks Along The River Bradford

River Bradford Youlgreave
Youlgreave river walk, Peak District

We have trekked up-peak and down-dale for many years in this neck of the woods (we’ve written about some of our favourite Derbyshire walks here) but sometimes you just want a leisurely stroll, a Sunday walk before you hit the pub for a pint by the fire. The 1 mile Youlgreave river walk achieves this objective.

From the bottom of Hollywell Lane (just past the village hall) you can take the river path either east or west. East takes you the shorter route to the hamlet of Alport where you pass the cutest single arched bridge cut from local limestone. The vistas are more open in this direction and there is plenty to watch between the brave bathers and the local ducks. Whereas, west leads you to the next village of Middleton, through denser patches of trees – very pretty in the Autumn.

The paths don’t get too muddy and the ground is very even; this Youlgreave walk along the river is the epitome of a gentle amble.

The Bulls Head, Youlgreave

The Bulls Head - best pub in Youlgreave

There are 3 Youlgreave pubs, we’ve tested them all and only one entices us back… The Bulls Head Hotel. It’s old, it’s clean, the staff are lovely, the food’s grand and there’s a cosy fire in winter. What more do you want?

Derbyshire is dotted with many fine drinking establishments, ranging from the gastro-pub to the traditional inn and The Bulls Head definitely falls into this last category. It was a 17th-century coaching inn and still retains several old features. But what we really loved about this Youlgreave pub was that it’s family-run, the beer was good and the menu, although not extensive, was really well executed. We are already planning our next day in the Peaks to end up here!

If you would like to learn more about Youlgreave you can pick up a ‘Youlgreave History Trail’ leaflet in several of the local establishments to take your own village walking tour that highlights some more interesting history.

Plenty To Do Near Youlgreave

If you were thinking of booking a weekend in Youlgreave, Derbyshire there are in fact plenty of things to do in this area.

  • Lathkill Dale is one of the prettiest Dales in Derbyshire for sure. We particularly love the section of the walk just below Over Haddon but if you’re looking for a day in the dales with stunning scenery and varied landscapes then you will certainly enjoy the path between Monyash and Over Haddon through, above and below the old Limestone cliffs.
  • Haddon Hall has survived since the middle ages and is a perfect representation of Medieval Britain. Including the gardens you could easily make a day of a trip to this amazing historical house.
  • The popular town of Bakewell is only 4 miles away, even if you just fancy popping by to pick up one of their infamous Bakewell Tarts.
  • One of England’s finest stately homes, Chatsworth House, is only a 15 minute drive northeast from Youlgreave – the final home of Mary Queen of Scots before her execution and the landscaped handiwork of Capability Brown. A wonderful Derbyshire day trip.
  • Other than the river walk along the Bradford, there is also a popular hike upstream from Alport to Monyash following the River Lathkill.
  • If cycling is your thing you can also do a lovely Derbyshire bike ride by joining a section of the Tissington Trail or the High Peak Trail (old unused railway lines) at nearby Parsley Hay, just west of Youlgreave. This is also a Derbyshire bike hire location too, if you haven’t brought your own.

We hope we’ve inspired you to visit Youlgreave Derbyshire – it takes a lot for us to write about such a small place, so we really do think it’s worth a trip.

And, if it’s a weekend break you’re researching, why not check out our very popular post for more inspiration (there may be more Peak District towns lurking in there!)…

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