Bakewell in Derbyshire, (Peak District) England

During our fairly recent trip down to England we stopped off in Bakewell, Derbyshire for lunch and to stretch our legs. A walk along the very scenic River Wye is a must, especially on a lovely sunny day.

Bridge at Bakewell, Derbyshire

We walked from the car park over this stylish and very ancient gothic arched stone bridge which dates from the 14th century, and if you’re interested there’s a decent second-hand bookshop right at the end of the bridge – or the beginning depending on which way you’re walking – all profits going to local worthy causes.

Bakewell Bridge

Weirs always add interest to waterways and I noticed that this one doesn’t quite go all the way across the width of the river, one edge has been kept clear so that fish are able to navigate easily up or downstream.

Bridge  at Bakewell

Which is just as well because …

Fish

it’s absolutely full of fish – trout and grey mullet I think. They’re big too, most of them being around 18 inches long or thereabouts. The last time we were in Bakewell there were even more fish though and it seemed quite spooky to me as they were all grey and ghostly looking.

As it was such a dry summer the Wye was very low, there wasn’t much depth for the fish to swim in and they were navigating around the legs of the ducks and swans. I’ve never seen anyone fishing here so I suspect it isn’t allowed which is just as well really as there are so many it wouldn’t seem very sporting – like shooting fish in a barrel.

Fish , River Wye, Bakewell, Derbyshire

If you’re interested our lunch was of the clotted cream scones variety – delicious.

You can see more images of Bakewell here.

Buxton, Derbyshire – a Georgian Spa Town

The main street in Buxton has some lovely buildings in it, although the shops aren’t exactly high class nowadays, it’s easy to imagine how it must have seemed when all the shops were independent ones.

Buxton

Buxton is a town which I’ve long fancied visiting, probably because it’s one of those spa towns, mentioned in Jane Austen’s and Emily Bronte’s books. In fact it’s a very old spa town and Mary Queen of Scots went there to take the water in 1573.

Buxton  spa
Buxton has a classic Georgian Crescent, such as I’ve only seen in Edinburgh, although Bath is probably more famous for them, I haven’t been to Bath yet though, I’m saving that for another road trip to the far south west.

Buxton  spa

It seems that everywhere we go places are swathed in scaffolding and tarpaulin, these old places cost a fortune to maintain, so it’s just as well that the lottery fund has given ¬£millions for the refurbishment.

Buxton  spa
As you can see, Buxton has a very grand opera house which seems to be well used for various productions.

Buxton  Opera House

Right next to the opera house, vewry close to the centre of the town there’s a great park, beautifully set out and planted and obviously a favourite place to go for locals and trippers alike.

Buxton park

Buxton Park Bridge

I love that rope effect edging, I’ve only ever seen it straight before, I think the curved swags are very unusual.

Buxton  Park planter

You don’t often see Victorian post boxes like this one nowadays. The nearest one to me that I know of is one in South Queensferry.

Buxton Post Box

The photo below is a stitch of the spa and as you can see there are several advertising boards around the place. One of them pointed up the hill and said there was a secondhand bookshop 5 minutes walk away. So we legged it up a very steep long hill, which was definitely nearer ten minutes away – but lo and behold we reached what seemed like another town, Buxton has an upper and lower town and the upper part is even older and that’s where the high street is. I think a lot of visitors must miss that part altogether, we nearly did. Anyway, suffice to say that books were bought, by me anyway. The shop is ancient with lots of nooks and crannies, an original old cooking range still in place downstairs and – a ghost in residence – allegedly!

Buxton spa stitch

Buxton is definitely worth visiting, unfortunately – or maybe fortunately for us – St Ann’s Well wasn’t in working order, I think it’s being refurbished too. Not long ago Jack read Tobias Smollett’s The Expedition of Humphry Clinker and one of the characters in it said of Bath’s spa that he was sure that people had already bathed in the water they gave you to drink. Let’s hope Buxton wasn’t the same!

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

What do you think of this National Trust stately home? We took a bit of a detour on the way home from our break in Warwickshire in the early summer, just to visit this one. It seems like a long time ago now but as you can see, it was a beautiful day, in fact it was the only really good day which we had, you know how wet this ‘summer’ has been.

Hardwick Hall, front

Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire must rate as just about the grandest of stately homes. Built by Bess of Hardwick, she moved in in 1597, having been at Chatsworth before that. Bess wore out four husbands I believe and she managed to move her way up the social scale with each marriage, as you can see, she wasn’t short of a bob or two!

Hardwick Hall, gardens 4

Although the house is still gobsmackingly grand and full of lots of interesting 500 year old tapestries and portraits, it was the gardens which I loved most. We seem to have got to these ones just at the right time for most of the plants. This is Jack enjoying a rest, it was a hot day – for us anyway, about 70F I think.

Hardwick Hall, gardens + J

The walled garden was the best designed and best tended one which I’ve seen out of all of the National Trust properties which we’ve visited recently. These rambling roses were just gorgeous.

Hardwick Hall, gardens

Another rosey corner, the walls must help to protect the plants during the winter and add some warmth during the summer as they keep the heat from the sun for quite a while.

Hardwick Hall, roses

There are some really lovely trees in the grounds and I loved this clipped yew and the cedrus glauca Atlantica behind it. The yew looks like it should be an illustration in a children’s fairy tale book. There are four of them on the large lawn at the back of the house and they’re big enough for an adult to stand underneath them. They’d be a perfect place to enjoy a picnic in the shade on a hot day.

Hardwick Hall, noddy tree

So that was a lovely way of breaking the journey back up to Scotland and I must say that the guides were very friendly and informative. This house was owned by the Cavendish/Devonshires who of course own Chatsworth House but when the Duke died suddenly in the 1950s the death duties were enormous and they ended up settling the bill by giving up Hardwick Hall, amongst other things like works of art. What a dilemma to have, although I think they made the right choice as Hardwick Hall would be impossible to live in comfortably, even in Elizabethan times. They said of it when it was built – Hardwick Hall – more glass than wall. Of course glass was so expensive then that it was a great status symbol.

The day following this one couldn’t have been more different, they had 12 inches of rain, resulting in a lot of flooding in the county of Derbyshire. That’s Britain for you, rarely two days in a row alike!

Chatsworth House Interiors

We went on a tour of Chatsworth before going into the parkland and even although it was quite early in the day it was packed with people. About half of them seemed to be Scots! Although there’s quite a lot to see, it’s obvious that only a fraction of the house is open to the public. I would love to know what the main staircase looks like as that’s usually the grandest part of stately homes.

Karen of Books and Chocolate was wondering if Chatsworth is what Jane Austen based Pemberley on in Pride and Prejudice. I read somewhere that Deborah Devonshire (the dowager duchess) believed that she recognised Chatsworth in Jane’s descriptions, and I suppose she should know. Jane does mention that Lizzie visits Chatsworth amongst other great houses in the Derbyshire area, the county does seem to have a plethora of them. But its the fact that Darcy’s sister is given the name Georgiana and that was the name of the 5th Duke of Devonshire’s wife who lived at Chatsworth in Jane Austen’s time which makes me think that she did really base Pemberley on Chatsworth. The house was used for parts of the 2005 P&P film, not a favourite of mine.

As you can imagine it’s just about impossible to get a photo without people in it but I took the one below of a stairway. I love the stairs themselves but I’m not so keen on the paintings, it’s all very heavy and dark looking but it fits in with the age of the house I suppose.

Stairway

The ceiling in the photo below is of the room which was the 6th Duke’s dining room and it’s much brighter and airier with the crystal chandeliers and white and gold paint.

aCeiling and chandelier dining room

And this is the dining table, loaded with silver and looking wonderful. I’m so glad that I don’t have to clean all that silver though!

Dining table

I could have quite happily settled down in the library which is below, I think it would probably be one of the cosiest rooms in Chatsworth.

aLibrary

I might be blogging about the garden and parkland again tomorrow, that really was my favourite bit.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

I’ve been wanting to visit Chatsworth House for years but we’d never even been to Derbyshire. After seeing some of the countryside on the BBC’s Countryfile programme recently we decided that we wouldn’t put it off any longer. Of course Debo Devonshire has been on TV recently too with her most recent book and I’m about to start re-reading some of Nancy Mitford’s books. We set off last Wednesday morning and stayed overnight near Sheffield, another place we hadn’t been to.

We drove into Chatsworth early on Thursday morning, and honestly if I had been a weeping kind of a woman I would have wept. Instead of seeing that beautiful house in all its glory the whole front of the house was swathed in plastic which had scaffolding behind it. What a disappointment! Anyway, such is life and I have to say that apart from that Chatsworth is a fantastic day out. You can see some of the plastic in this photo of the back of the house. The Cavendishes have taken advantage of the scaffolding and tours of it are on at the moment. We were tempted but after spending a long time walking about the grounds and the house we were too tired to take on the scaffolding too!

Chatsworth House

The grounds were designed by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s, for some reason I learned quite a bit about him in history when I was at school, it was great to be in one of his creations.
This is a photo of one of the many ponds/water features.

Pond in grounds, Chatsworth House

This is the rockery which is on a really massive scale, the trees are a big feature of the landscape and are beautiful, I must admit that I’m not very far from being a bit of a tree hugger.

Rockery, Chatsworth House

Can you see that there are two darker rectangles of greenery high up on this hill? I’m fairly sure that they are the letters ER which have been seeded in a contrasting green plant there to show the Cavendishes’ allegiance to the Queen but at the moment they don’t look too clear. Maybe they will flower.

Background hills from garden, Chatsworth House

This photo is of a seating area which is above a grotto, it’s quite a climb up there but it’s worth it.

Grotto above pond in grounds of Chatsworth House

I took loads of photos, inside and out, so there are a lot more to come. Obviously the house is a thriving business and a lot of people are being employed there and although I don’t have anything against the National Trust, I still think that a visit to Chatsworth is enhanced by the fact that the family is so involved with the running of it all. They don’t seem to have missed out on many business opportunities along the way although I have to say that as a keen gardener I was disappointed with the garden centre. They could make masses of money selling plants which have been propagated from their plants even if they employed a gardener just for that purpose they would generate far more money than his or her annual wages would cost. When we were there the only plants on offer were a couple of roses, lavender and heuchera (boring old Palace Purple).

I really wanted some plants for my garden as a souvenir of Chatsworth but I didn’t get anything at all. Maybe they normally have a better selection and I was just unlucky.

If you’re planning on visiting Chatsworth you should devote a whole day to it as there’s so much to see. If I were local I would definitely buy a season ticket to the grounds as it’s such a beautiful place to have a picnic or just go for walks. When we were there it was very busy, about half of the visitors seemed to be fellow Scots and the rest of them English, where were all the foreign tourists?

I bought two books in the shop there – a Chatsworth Guide Book and a massive chunkster called Letters Between Six Sisters, the Mitfords obviously, and I think it’ll be very interesting but very awkward to read.

More soon!