Litton can certainly be described as one of the most attractive villages in the Peak District with many late 17th and early 18th century houses, full of charm and character set around a large village green where you can find an ancient cross, old wooden stocks and a quaint village pub.
Situated 4 miles northwest of Bakewell and 1 mile east of Tideswell, home of the Cathedral of the Peak, Litton has a particular charm of its own. The village green is covered with daffodils in spring, followed in May by the cherry blossom and during the summer months visitors can picnic in the shade of leafy trees. At Christmas time the village sparkles with Christmas lights and the main Litton Christmas tree is positioned just opposite Candlelight Cottage.
Lying at 1,000 feet above sea level, almost at the very centre of The Peak District National Park, Litton offers all the advantages of a peaceful small village, whilst being only a 20 minute drive away from the towns of Buxton and Bakewell or the beautiful stately homes of Chatsworth and Haddon Hall. Superbly located in the midst of breathtaking scenery typical of the White Peak area of limestone dales, the village also provides an ideal base from which to visit the wild moors and grit stone outcrops of The Dark Peak.
There are many excellent walks from the village, especially down Litton and Tideswell Dales to reach the River Wye near Water cum Jolly, or through Tansley and Cressbrook Dales to Monsal Dale and the famous viaduct at Monsal Head.
The Red Lion pub
Visitors to Candlelight Cottage spend a great deal of time here, chatting to the locals and sampling the menu. Some recent guests went every night for a week! The 17th century free house features in The Good Pub Guide and is renowned locally for the quality of its food and beer. Situated in the heart of the village, The Red Lion is just a 5 minute walk away from Candlelight Cottage and has a cosy and relaxing feel. The pub began its life as three cottages and in winter, the beamed rooms are kept wonderfully warm by log fires.
Food is served from 12 pm every day and we would advise you to book or arrive early at peak times (telephone 01298 871458.)
Litton village shop
In such a small village, it is unusual to have a shop, let alone an award winning shop!
After the closure of Litton’s last shop, a number of villagers formed a friendly society, renovated the old village smithy and the Litton Village Shop was born. It was the first village owned and run shop in Derbyshire and later that year, the shop project won a Peak Achievement Award from the National Park Authority.
More than ten years on, the shop/post office is thriving. Mainly run by volunteers, it provides a real focal point and meeting place for local residents and visitors alike.
The shop stocks a broad range of items including several locally made products. (Don’t miss Bradwell’s ice cream!) Prices are competitive with local supermarkets and there is also a newspaper delivery service. Visitors can sit outside with their tea and cake, watch the world go by and enjoy views of Litton Edge.
Every year in late June, Litton has its Well Dressing festival. Celebrations last all week with maypole dancing displays by local school children and morris dancing, local brass bands and several other events.
For full details and dates of well dressings in Derbyshire see welldressing.com.
Candlelight Cottage is believed to date from the 18th century and began its life as two separate cottages. Later the two cottages were knocked together and used as a village shop. We have a photograph taken around 1900 showing the cottage as a shop, with the owners standing proudly outside. When the cottage was renovated recently, we discovered the old shop window bricked up! All that remains today of the shop are the old meat hooks set into the kitchen ceiling.
Litton grew up around the lead mining industry, indeed there are many scattered remains of lead mining and small limestone workings to be seen in the fields today. Later, in the 18th century Litton had a flourishing hosiery industry, with many families working on stocking frames in their homes.
The village is mostly comprised of small cottages, originally inhabited by lead miners. There are however also some fine larger houses such as Holborn House (1639), Hammerton House (1768) and Clergy House (1723). In 1865 a combined school, church and library was built in the centre of the village and is still used as the village school today.
Running above the village to the north is Litton Edge from where there are beautiful aerial views over the village below. From the Edge it is easy to see the various ancient field systems which surround Litton. Most fields are long and narrow and are the result of the Enclosure Acts of 1760 and 1830 when strips of much larger fields were allocated to individual families to farm. Reverse s-shaped fields date from medieval times and the more rectangular fields away from the village, from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Across the fields from Litton, are the spectacular limestone dales of Tideswell Dale, Tansley Dale, Ravensdale and Cressbrook Dale. Cressbrook Dale is an SSSI or Site of Specific Scientific Interest, renowned for its exceptional wild flowers. Some of the flowers such as birdsfoot sedge are very rare and in spring the sides of the dales are completely covered with Early Purple Orchids, Leadwort, and Cowslips. Later in July, it is the turn of Common Spotted Orchids, and other rarer orchids such as the Frog Orchid and Burnt Orchid can sometimes be seen. To learn more see Flowers of the limestone dales.
At the top of Cressbrook Dale you will also discover a strange rock formation known as Peter’s Stone. This huge outcrop was formed over thousands of years, as part of the surrounding land slowly slipped away.
Peter’s Stone however is also known by the more grisly name of Gibbet Rock. On top of the rock, the bodies of those who had committed serious crimes were hung from a gibbet in a cage, as an example to others. The last person to suffer this fate was a 21 year old man called Anthony Linguard in 1815.
Another gruesome story from times past is that of Litton Mill, located 2 miles away from Litton village along the river Wye. Founded as a cotton mill in 1782 the mill owners Ellis Needham & Co cruelly mistreated the young apprentices, many of whom died due to the appalling working conditions, poor food and beatings. In order to cover up the high levels of mortality amongst the paupers and orphaned children who mainly made up the workforce, the owners had their bodies buried in several different locations. For many years the mill lay empty, but a few years ago it was converted into apartments.