Ashbourne is a historic market town in Derbyshire, at the foot of the Peak District. Ashbourne has many events taking place throughout the year in the summer there is the Ashbourne Carnival an Arts festival and the Highland gathering. At the carnival it is held in the large recreation ground and there are fun and games for all the family. The Highland Gathering is also held in the recreation ground and each year there are tournaments there for caber tossing and Scottish bands. The Arts festival is held over the whole town in the space of about a weekend there is all sorts of art at different places and times, like music in the pubs and painting displays. The only events in Winter and Autumn are the half-marathon and fun-run which happen in September. And in December (Friday 14th this year) there is late night Christmas shopping, where all the shops open and there are stalls and games in the town centre. Then we come to Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, when the towns big event happens; Royal Shrovetide football. 'Warning if you are tourists and are not coming for the football do not come over these two days'. It was canceled this year due to foot and mouth and Prince Charles was throwing the ballup, but he is still expected to start the game next year. Shrovetide is a huge game held across 3 miles with a goal at each end. The middle of the pitch is the town centre were the ball is thrown up from a plinth. The teams are the up'ards and the down'ards, depending on which side of Henmore Brook you were born on. The ball is thrown into the crowd at about 2:00 and if a goal is scored before 5:00 another ball is thrown up. It is then repeatd the next day. Ashbourne is totally closed for the game, and windows are boarded up and pretty much everyone who is local, male and between the age of 13 - 45 plays the game, trying to get the ball to their goal. The ball is about 75% bigger than a football made of cork and covered in painted leather . The goalscorer gets to keep a replica painted souvenir ball. Usually the match wind up in the river and everyone gets very wet as this is the easiest way to get to the goals. If you don't feel like coming to see or play it is always on the local news. Ashbourne is very historical with an old Victorian market square, where markets are held every Thursday and Saturday. There are also quite a few Georgian and Victorian buildings around the town and even the school looks like some sort of historical castle. Shopping wise the major big name shops are Sainsburys (for some reason there are 4 supermarkets!), Boots, Edinburgh Woollen Mill and WH Smith. If you want antiques this is the place to come just head down Church Street (in the direction of the church). In summer there are many tourists so book early. They come fr the history, countryside, views and walks. Ashbourne is one end of the Tissington trail, which is a long wide path ideal for walikng and mountainbiking. If you do want to visit there are many B & Bs to chhose from, hope you enjoy yourself.
OK so I cheated! Ashbourne in Derbyshire isn't actually a city. However I thought it was worth a mention so you could all organise next years diary! This is my local town and it is quite quaint. If you live here it's slightly irritating at times because it's really geared up for tourists because you can buy any sort of gift that you care to name. Antique shops are also plentiful but it's not the best for basic commodities for which you have to visit the dreaded Derby (see my opinion on that!). As a tourist town it does have several high points. It is in the Debyshire Dales and as such is great for keen walkers. Ashbourne also sees the start of the Tissington trail which is an old disused railway line which has now been cemented over to provide a bike trail that runs for over 35 miles. You can bring your own bikes or hire them. There are several high points of Ashbourne's social calendar such as the Highland Gathering (the largest outside Scotland) with all the pipe bands descending for a 2 day event in July; the arts festival (not the biggest or the best at the moment - though Wirksworth, a short drive away has an excellent week long festival). But the real creme de la creme has to be the Shrovetide football match. This is a two day event run on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday. This has to be seen. The whole town closes down each afternoon on these two days and the ball is thrown up in the town centre (Somerfield carpark actually!) at 2pm. It is a free for all where it is the up'ards against the down'ards (depending which side of the river you live). The goal posts are 3 miles apart and the game is played from 2pm until 11pm each day with no real rules apart from the ball must not be taken on public transport! The shops get boarded up so that no one falls through a shop window and play continues into the river or wherever else the ball may go. The whole town gathers together for the occasion, but most of us at a distance, as there are some real big guys, and lots of pushing and shoving (it's more like rugby than football). It is a real tradition in the town and it's good to know that there are still some such traditions around that have not been quashed or fizzled out over the years. If your around the area /sober enough on New Years day, then take a trip out to the little village of Mappleton(about one mile from Ashbourne) at 12.30pm. Here about 6 teams compete in a raft race down the river Dove for about 1 mile. They then have to get out of the raft, run up the bank before jumping from a high bridge into the river (some start to bottle out at this point). Once in the river they swim to the side of the river, before climbing out and finally running across a field to the finishing post which is the Okeover Arms pub! In fact if you're that way inclined you could always enter but remember it is New Year's day and the water is very cold! Far better to join the celebrations (all in aid of charity) in the pub!
Four of us decided to get away from Birmingham for the weekend. We wanted cows and countryside but didn’t fancy driving very far so we ended up in Ashbourne, Derbyshire. We knew of Dovedale (a really pretty place with a few big hills, some lovely countryside and a beautiful river walk) and of the Tissington Trail (an old railway, now converted into a nature trail, brilliant for walking and cycling) and as they were both near Ashbourne, we decided to stay in a B&B in the centre of town. On arrival, however, all beds in all hotels and bed and breakfast places were full. In Ashbourne and for 12 miles surrounding Ashbourne, there are no vacancies available, so the tourist office lady told us (and I think she was enjoying it, does anyone else think that in order to work in a tourist office you have to hate tourists?). It was the weekend of 26th June and Ashbourne was hosting the international bag-pipe playing championships, the highland games final and some shire horse show-jumping thing. We ended up in Matlock, another very pretty place in Derbyshire. Ashbourne would have been lovely but we know to book now. B&Bs are fairly cheap too (between £12 and £20 per night per person). Well worth a visit as there is always lots to do. There are plenty of pubs per square feet, an open market on Saturdays and Sundays and lots of little gift shops surrounding the main square. Once a year they also do that mad rugby game when hundreds of people play and the basic idea is to get the ball from one end of the town to the other with loads of huge men trying to stop you. Apparently its really entertaining to watch and if you are suicidal in any way then you can join in!