There is something striking about the “wild and untamed beauty of the peaks” of Derbyshire, so striking in fact that I felt compelled to quote Austen. Here comes another: “nature and culture in harmony”. As perfect a description today as it was in 1813 when she wrote Pride and Prejudice. During our day trip to Chatsworth Castle I had the scene replaying in my head where Lizzy first sees the peaks and wistfully sighs as the camera pans across the skyline. Sadly my wistful sigh was interrupted by a rather large flock of sheep coming to graze on said wild untamed peak.
The drive to Chatsworth is quite dramatic in itself: the road winds through iron gates and rolling green hills just before the Emperor fountain and the house itself come into view. It is set in front of a meandering river which on a clear day mirrors the sky and is surrounded by sweeping hills speckled with sheep and horses grazing.
A word to the wise, do not provoke the sheep, they will give chase. I learned that lesson as a fourteen year on a Duke of Edinburgh hike and will never forget the terror that strikes you still as an angry sheep hurtles at you.
It is a great day out for families, couples or hikers. You can explore the extensive grounds, fish in the lake or hike its many surrounding rolling hills. Summer is the best time to visit, you begin to understand why Derbyshire’s serenity inspired some of the most prominent literary classics of our time. We loved it so much we decided to return another day armed with picnic basket, frizbees and rounders kit.
There are all manner of things to do and see, both inside the property and within its 1,000 acres of land. Among the most popular features are the cascade (stunning water feature with a great view from the top) and Paxton’s rock garden. Joseph Paxton was a young gardener who trained at Kew in the 1800s. Under his charge as Head Gardener the grounds were transformed to what we see today. He was considered the most innovative gardener of his time; classically timeless too given how little the grounds have changed in the 200 years since he began the transformation.
The grounds of Chatsworth have changed hands many many times since the 11th century and each owner left their own mark on the property. Its rich history becomes quite evident if you take a tour through the house. There are 126 rooms and the public has access to a fair few of them. It houses the Devonshire Collection which is one of the biggest private collections in the UK. Be warned, it will cost to see the attractions and gain entry to the house and it is by no means cheap. You can check out prices here. Being city dwellers we were more interested in exploring the outdoors so didn’t spend much time inside.
Food is unfortunately priced for tourists despite being in the Midlands, which is disappointing. A short drive away however is the village of Bakewell and a few classically British pubs with outdoor seating and kids’ play areas. We loved the fresh air and the views from those peaks.
Chatsworth is a stately beauty, our own emerald with a rich heritage. Accessible by car from almost anywhere in the UK, it is worth a day trip for the scenery and the grandeur. Maybe it is something to do with the fresh air of the great outdoors but you feel a real sense of appreciation for the majesty of the Great British countryside.
Food – 0
People – 1
Ambience – 1.5
Sights & Activities – 2
X-Factor – 1
Total – 5.5 out of 10