Last week I paid a visit to Buxton for the first time in many years. Self-styled as “England’s leading spa town” (although I’m sure Royal Leamington Spa may have something to say about that claim) the visit was a disappointment.
The Crescent and Pump Rooms remain under renovation, with the 2018 re-opening date given on the hoardings looking optimistic. A BBC news article published in 2017 suggests that it may re-open in 2019, 12 years behind schedule.
However, the site was a hive of activity when I visited, unlike at the Octagon. This is also undergoing renovation, with the Pavilion Garden’s website suggesting a “late summer” reopening this year. This seems a tad optimistic.
The miniature railway in the Pavilion Gardens, supposedly open every day during the summer holidays was, you guessed it, closed.
The Opera House is lovely from the outside and had its doors open, but was inaccessible due to an extended fire drill.
The main shopping area is unusual as nearly all of the major high street banks and building societies (as well as some of the lesser ones) have a presence. The rest of the shopping area is unremarkable, with the former Grove Hotel at one end in a poor state of repair.
The only redeeming feature of the visit was Charlotte’s Chocolates in the Cavendish Centre, next to the Crescent. Great coffee, hot chocolate and cake. The homemade chocolates proved too tempting not to buy as well.
Buxton should have more to recommend it by 2020 – but until then it’s probably not worth a visit outside of the festival.