Market Magic & Hidden Gems: 48 hours in Leek
This itinerary is based in the historic market town of Leek, famed for its Arts & Crafts architecture and traditional outdoor & indoor market, the town was granted its Market Charter in 1207 by King John.
Visit The Nicholson Institute, home to the Museum & Art Gallery, Tourist Information and Library. Here you can pick-up a map of the town, a town trail as well as town and local attraction leaflets.
Leek's traditional markets
Start the day by enjoying the bustle and atmosphere of Leek's traditional markets; browse the general weekly outdoor market each Wednesday for bargains, as well as the indoor market every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in the restored Victorian Butter Market. Every Saturday the antique and collectors' market is held on the traditional cobbled Market Place. On the 3rd Saturday of every month is Leek's Farmers Market and every 1st Sunday of the month is the hugely popular ‘Totally Locally’ Sunday Supplement Market, championing shopping locally and supporting our local high streets.
A short walk around Leek’s town centre (following the town trail) reveals a Victorian design influence, particularly that of the Sugden’s - a local and family firm of architects, who designed many of the buildings in the town in the Arts & Crafts style.
William Morris, founder of the Arts & Crafts movement, lived and worked in Leek for long periods between 1875 and 1877. Much of his time here was spent investigating new techniques of dyeing with Sir Thomas Wardle and he also encouraged Lady Elizabeth (Thomas Wardle’s wife) to found the Leek School of Embroidery.
The Nicholson Institute
Returning to Leek’s iconic Grade 2* listed building - The Nicholson Institute, is an impressive example of Arts & Crafts heritage with its Renaissance style tower and copper dome, a fine example of a Sugden building in the Queen Anne style.
Completed in 1884 and funded by local industrialist and silk mill owner Joshua Nicholson, the Institute offered the people of Leek an opportunity to learn and expand their cultural horizons.
The Institute is one of a few buildings in the country still being used for the purpose for which it was originally built, The Art Gallery hosts an exciting programme of exhibitions and events throughout the year and the Museum had a collection of the Leek School of Embroidery.
Need to Re-fuel?
Leek offers a large number of eateries from modern to traditional style tearooms and coffee shops to real ale pubs and more. The town is also home to speciality food & drink producers and the Potteries delicacy of the Staffordshire Oatcake.
Why not visit one of the many bustling public houses, which host local bands or discover The Foxlowe - Leek’s arts centre, housing a café, bar, art gallery and has performance space for live music, drama, comedy, talks and a cinema, the Foxlowe has rapidly established a reputation as the go to place in Leek for entertainment.
Spend the night in one of Leek’s town centre B&B’s or the surrounding village Hotel’s / Inns. With plenty of real ale pubs and restaurants, you won't be short of places to top up on food and drink again in the evening.
The Roaches, Rudyard Lake and Severn Trent
Situated on the southern edge of the Peak District National Park and surrounded by rugged countryside and open moorland, including the iconic gritstone rock formations of The Roaches. Rudyard Lake is located a few miles west of the town and Severn Trent managed Tittesworth Water is to the east.
You can easily start your second day spoilt for choice, in which walk to take or what breath-taking views you will see. Only 3 miles from Leek, the two water-side walks are both circular walks of about 5 miles, both are unique, there are water sports options at each of them, and a hearty breakfast or lunch can be enjoyed at either of their cafes.
The more challenging Roaches walking option will a reward your efforts with stunning views of The Peak District and on a fair day as far afield as Snowdon. The village of Upper Hulme is home to the Roaches Tea Rooms or Ye Olde Rock Inn for a well-deserved late lunch or early dinner.
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