The A57 that stretches across Derbyshire’s Peak District is better known by a more emotive name; the Snake Pass. The A57 starts in Sheffield, to the east, and ends in Glossop in the direction of Manchester. The Snake Pass itself runs from the Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton, its tarmac rising through the forest and wriggling north-west across the Pennines for 14 thrilling miles, plateauing at 510m above sea level.
Such is the magnificence of this road and the scenery it affords that Sheffield synth-pop icons The Human League named a tune after it. Comic character John Shuttleworth has also performed a song called ‘Incident on Snake Pass’ about a shunt he claims to have suffered in a Ford Anglia.
In fact, the moniker comes not from the sinuous ribbon of road but from a pub which used to be located close to the reservoir called The Snake Inn, which in turn took its insignia from the serpent on the Cavendish arms belonging to the sixth Duke of Devonshire. There are still many excellent pubs to be enjoyed in the area, catering for motorists, cyclists, walkers, and the local farming community.
The Ladybower Inn is on Snake Pass and does food and rooms. One of the region’s most charming pubs is the Packhorse Inn in Little Longstone, which has been serving weary travellers since 1787 and is owned by local brewery Thornbridge. Try the award-winning Jaipur pale ale and the a la carte venison haunch.
The Old Hall Inn, on the District’s western edge at Chinley, has not only one of the best beer gardens but also characterful bedrooms with four-posters. Their Sunday roast is to die for. Luxury digs are available at Fischer’s Baslow Hall, to the east, a handsome manor with well-tended gardens and a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant that attracts foodies from afar. Dishes change with the seasons but might include pan-fried John Dory with a lemon verbena and ginger bisque.
There’s plenty to do in the area, including a visit to the stately Chatsworth House. Do explore the caves at Castleton, particularly Peak Cavern aka ‘The Devil’s Arse’, where local resident Jarvis Cocker recently recorded music. And grab a Bakewell tart from its birthplace, Bakewell. The town’s aforementioned brewery, Thornbridge, make a raspberry jam-flavoured beer in homage to the dessert.