The UK, England especially, is renowned for its pretty villages. We only have to hear the word ‘village’ to picture quintessential thatched roofs and dreamy mellow stone cottages surrounding the parish church and village green.
And, because of the nostalgic feeling villages draw upon we want to know more about them. What is a village? Which is the biggest village in England? Which is the smallest? Our inquisitiveness knows no bounds.
But often the answers to these questions are surprisingly controversial. Villages dispute their status or size and there’s often just as much of a tug-o-war going on and off the village green about which is the biggest or smallest village in the country.
Happily, when it comes to the highest Village in England, there’s no contest.
What is the Highest Village in England?
The title for the highest village in England goes to the Staffordshire village of Flash. And what’s more, it’s not only the highest village in England, it’s the second highest village in the whole of Great Britain.
Sitting at 1,519 feet or 463 feet above sea level, Flash is a very small village indeed. In fact, if you take a peek at a satellite map, you’ll find it has only a handful of dwellings most of which are farms. Some might claim it’s more of a hamlet.
However, there is no official set of rules that state what a village must have to be called a village. And, as Flash has a parish church, a village hall, a shop and a pub, its claim is a confident one.
The village used to have around 700 inhabitants in the early 1800s most of whom worked in local industries such as agriculture and coal mines.
But due to the decline in both those industries and the mechanisation of agricultural work, the population has declined. Now the parish of Quantock, of which Flash is part only has around 200 inhabitants.
Arguably the most interesting thing about Flash, apart from its natural beauty, is its name. Flash seems to have come by its unusual moniker through the illegal practice of forgery.
In times past, money counterfeiting was undertaken in the village and was so successful that fake money came to be known as ‘Flash’ money.
Perhaps the village’s remoteness meant that they got away with more than other accessible places!
Where is England’s Highest Village, Flash?
Flash Village is in the English county of Staffordshire. Staffordshire is a land-locked country in the West Midlands but has areas of high hills to the north and south within its borders.
To the south, Staffordshire has a Cannock Chase and part of the National Forest. To the north, the county contains the southern end of the Pennines – a series of hills that are often referred to as the backbone of England.
It is in the very northern part of Staffordshire, that Flash is located – on the borders of Cheshire and Derbyshire – and is considered part of the Peak District which those counties are famous for.
As you can imagine, being in such a hilly area, it’s a popular location for hill walkers. In wintertime, the area is often snowbound and at many times of the year, the weather can be unpredictable.
And, much like its history, the countryside around Flash is known for being a little wild.
That doesn’t mean there is a shortage of visitors in the summer months who fall in love with the village’s remoteness and its dramatic beauty.
Is Wanlockhead Higher than Flash?
Wanlockhead is situated in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, so would never be able to challenge Flash in the highest village in England stakes – it’s in a different country!
However, the Scottish village of Wanlockhead robustly denies Flash’s claim to be the highest village in Great Britain. In fact, the villagers of Scotland’s highest village have stoutly refuted a recent claim that Flash is the ‘real’ highest village in Britain.
In 2007, the BBC with the help of the Ordnance Survey stated that Flash was the highest village in Britain. Apparently, the difference between Flash and Wanlockhead came down to the height of the tallest building in both villages. Flash won this contest.
Wanlockhead, however, refuses to accept the measurement of the building as contributing to the area’s height. And, as Wanlockhead stands at 1,531 feet or 466.6 metres, it is clearly at a higher elevation than Flash making the Scottish village the highest one in Britain.
What is the Highest Town in England?
Alston is a town in the county of Cumbria and is situated in the North Pennines which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It has a long history with evidence of both Roman and prehistoric habitation dating back to potentially 1700 BC.
Buxton, in Derbyshire, is arguably the more famous of the two towns partly because of its popularity as a spa town thanks to its geothermal spring.
The spa boom in the Georgia period saw natural springs flourish and Buxton was often seen as the northern equivalent of Bath.
Nowadays, Buxton is still well known for its waters. Except rather the bathing in them, British people are more likely to quench their thirst with a bottle of Buxton spring water which is sold commercially.
Buxton is a bustling market town to this day and is a popular tourist destination. And if you fancy a visit don’t forget to pop across the border to Flash.
England’s highest village is only just over a 5-mile drive from one of the highest towns – you can be there in a flash!
The title of England’s highest village notwithstanding, we think there are many things that make Flash a place worth visiting.
The rugged scenery, the peace and quiet of the surroundings and the joy of getting back to nature feel like a just reward for walking so far and so high.