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The hub of the Peak District's network of trails and paths

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Hartington is a small, but busy village in Derbyshire. It's a pretty place, with plenty of trees, and a small duck pond at the northern end. The surrounding houses are made of limestone, which seems to sparkle in the sunlight. At the dead centre of the square is a stone water pump. This was an essential part of village life in years gone by, and has since become something of a local landmark. Hartington was the first settlement in the Peak District to be granted permission to hold a market, all the way back in 1203. The locals exercised this right for the next 700 years, before business began to decline at the start of the 20th century.
Another key part of Hartington's past is the cheese factory. The main product was Stilton, and it was made in huge quantities. At its peak the factory managed to produce 8000 kilograms a day, which worked out at an entire quarter of the world's supply! Legally, Stilton cheese can only be made in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire or Derbyshire. Hartington's factory qualified by the skin of its teeth, as it's only a few hundred metres away from the Staffordshire border. Unfortunately, the business closed, but there's still a cheese shop in the market square, selling plenty of locally-sourced products.
Hartington also contains plenty of gift shops, pubs and cafs. Actually, there are a disproportionately high number of facilities, considering that the town's population is only 400. This is due to the influx of tourists that arrive in the summer months.
Many of them choose to stay at Hartington Hall, one of the town's oldest buildings. It began its life as a home for well-off businessman, before being converted into a youth hostel in 1934. Despite this drastic change in function, the building manages to hang onto its old charms. It still has the oak panelling and the stove fires. Don't worry though, as the building also includes all the regular modern comforts. In fact, this was the first youth hostel in England to have central heating and electricity.
The favourite activity of most of the youth hostel's guests is inevitably either walking or cycling. Hartington is something of a transport hub, as lots of paths and trails begin here. It can be hard to choose which one to follow, as there are many different destinations to aim for.
A popular choice is the Hartington railway station, about 3 kilometres out of town. Trains haven't come here for a long, long time. However, the old signal box has been converted into a visitor centre, and the tracks have been turned into a cycle and walking route.
The station is a nicely preserved part of Hartington's history, but it's practically brand new compared to some of the places you can visit. A few kilometres north-east is Arbor Low, a Neolithic stone circle. It's not quite Stonehenge, but it's the best preserved monument from that time period the Peak District has to offer. Around 50 limestone blocks are arranged into circular patterns. As with all relics of this type, their purpose is unknown. However, in 1902 the remains of several human skeletons were excavated near the centre of Arbor Low. This may offer a small clue to the site's original purpose.
If you're still not sure which part of the Peak District you want to aim for, then a good starting point is Wolfscote Hill. This 388-metre peak stands over the River Dove, offering a great view of the entire Hartington area. From here, you should easily be able to spot an interesting place to explore. Nearby Beresford Dale offers that picture perfect path by a stream in a narrow Dale that the Peak District is so famous for.

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