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| Even though this village is over 1,000 feet above sea level, the
quiet limestone village of Biggin can be entered by a gentle descent from all
sides, (particularly from the main Buxton Ashbourne route) as its
spreads unevenly over a shallow saucer.
The village is currently well known for its proximity to the popular Tissington Trail, a former railway line, now a walking and cycling trail, which links Ashbourne to Hurdlow and passes through the upper end of Biggin. The White Peak cycle route, which is also part of Sustrans Route 54, and which primarily consists of off-road routes, passes through the village linking two bridleways at each end of the village.
Biggin is also superbly situated for walking with numerous footpaths and bridleways in the vicinity. Biggin Dale runs from Dale End at the bottom of the village down to the River Dove and in its early stage it partially en-circles Cotterill Farm and its cottages. The Dale is a National Nature Reserve, a little over one mile long, and is usually dry although in wet winter weather water boils up usually about half way along its length. Three quarters way down there is an old lead mine, about 50 feet long, which children in particular like to explore. There are some lovely wild flowers in the Dale particularly in spring when cowslips and gorgeous early purple orchids can be seen.
In Biggin Dale
The start of Leisure Lane
The Waterloo Inn
|Walk 1 takes you down Biggin Dale and
returns via Beresford Dale and Hartington. Another pleasant walk in summer
evenings for residents or those staying in holiday cottages is to go along
Leisure Lane (a bridleway) to Hartington Youth Hostel to enjoy their excellent
value tasty meals and local ales, which can be drunk either in the panelled
hall or outside in the garden, which has as a backdrop the fabulous exterior of
this Jacobean Hall. Must be the best pub garden in the country!
Many walkers from Biggin Dale and cyclists coming off the Tissington Trail find themselves at the Waterloo Inn in the centre of Biggin. This has a spacious front garden and is particularly popular in summer with families. What is particularly nice about this pub is that tourists, whether day visitors or those staying overnight or for a week, have always been made welcome by the locals, and can, if they wish, quickly become integrated with the local community.
There used to be two pubs in the village in fact, and the sign for the other one, now closed for quite a number of decades can still be seen on a building in the yard where the Farm Feeds businesses is run. This pub, like most others in earlier years in the Peak District, would have been run on a part time basis, with the landlord probably having been engaged in either agriculture or lead-mining.
| Little is known about the history of this village, being first
mentioned in 1223AD, when it was called Newbiggin, consisting of a grange with
several small farms, farmed by monks of the Cistercian Order.
The Church, dedicated to St Thomas was consecrated in 1848 and was built of limestone acquired from a nearby field on the Liffs Road, much of the money being raised from public subscription and also voluntary labour.
There is a pinfold still be to be seen in Biggin, close to the village hall. It has in fact recently had its walls rebuilt. The pinfold was where stray sheep and cattle would be kept and only released upon payment of a fine.
There is a stone-aged barrow by the side of Liffs Road, close to Liffs Low, otherwise little of historical interest.
There used to be the Annual Wakes. On the Monday the school would close at lunchtime, and the schoolchildren would follow a band as it led the banner and members of the Loyal Order of Shepherds around the village. Before the advent of the Social Security system after the Second World War, people would join societies like the Ancient Shepherds, paying a few pence weekly into a fund and then in times of sickness they would receive a small sum of monies. There would also always be a fair during the Wakes, and a dance where tea and sandwiches were provided.
The local school was opened in 1849 and is still going strong, although there have been a few scares when numbers have dipped. There are now about 28 pupils from the age of 5 to 11.
View of Liffs Low from the Tissington Trail
| There is also a Hall, a really imposing one with fine exterior and
lovely wooden panelled interior, that a number of years ago became a
County House Hotel.
Here non-residents can visit for cream teas, lunches and absolutely amazingly
good value and high quality evening meals, when space permits.
Until recently Biggin most villagers were employed in agriculture, although a number work at the nearby brickworks and until recently others worked at the Hartington Creamery, famous for its Stilton Cheese. There are quite a number of dry stone wallers living in the village, including one who has been National Dry stone Walling Champion two years on the trot, who now, together with his son, who won the amateur National Drystone Walling championship, accepts commissions for work abroad, particularly in the United States.
Biggin has so far not gone down the route of second homes and holiday cottages, with the majority of residents probably having been born in the village, otherwise the houses being occupied by local residents. There are substantially more families than in other villages, and this village can truly be described as a working village, as is reflected in the custom of the Waterloo Inn.
| There are some Nissan huts situated just on the lower side of the
Tissington Trail. These were erected as prison of war camps, either during or
immediately after the second world war. The presence of these prisoners does
not seem to have caused the village any undue concern, and indeed they proved
useful in the terrible winter of 1947, when they helped with the snow drifts
that were up to 10 feet high.
Finally one local character must be mentioned. This was Mrs Polly Webster who ran Pollies Café and General Store she was renowned far and wide with cyclists and walkers visiting her for substantial or smaller meals and tea. She would accept business often late in the night. Often customers would knock on her door late at nights, often well after midnight and still be served with a meal. The shop and café remained open until Polly was well in her 80s, and Polly celebrated her 90th birthday in style with a party in the village hall. She died in 2001 aged 93.
Biggin Church from near the entrance to Biggin Dale
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