The market town of Ashbourne was always my gateway to the Peaks. Approaching from the south the best route to just about everywhere ran through the town, and the constant traffic jams showed that other people shared that view. Thankfully the traffic flow had improved, but the town is still an excellent route into the national park, lying at its southern tip. The Tissington trail starts at Ashbourne, the entrance to Dove Dale is only just over three miles away to the north west, Carsington Water a similar distance to the north east. The road north passes through some of the best scenery to be found in the White Peak on its way north to Buxton. On my trips to the Peaks, the steep climb out of Ashbourne always marked our arrival amongst the hills.
Ashbourne is one of the few places in Britain to retain its ancient football game. This is played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday (that alone should give some idea of the chaos involved), between the "Up'ards" and "Down'ards" (north and south of the Henmoore Brook which runs through the town).
One distinctive feature of Ashbourne is its triangular sloping market place, on the north of the town. On non-market days this is used as a car park. Market day in Ashbourne falls on Saturday.
Like Grasmere, Ashbourne has its own famous Gingerbread, made in the town for 200 years. The recipe is said to have arrived in Ashbourne with French prisoners of war during the Napoleonic Wars.