Peak District - Mr Darcy country!
Trip Start Mar 14, 2012
26Trip End Jun 15, 2012
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On the morning of Sunday 13 May, we packed our luggage, said goodbye to Jill and Brett and Daisy and Rosie and Maddie, and began our drive to Chesterfield in the Peak District. We first drove to a manor house nearby to have a look-see at it, but it was down in a valley and we couldn't see it from the carpark. We then drove to Sudeley Castle, which is where Henry VIII's sixth (and final) wife Catherine Parr died shortly after giving birth to a child with her fourth husband Thomas Seymour. I could see the castle as we drove down a hill towards it, and it looked impressive :) We couldn't see much of the castle from the road when we got down the hill, but we drove on the public roads that surround the estate and saw glimpses of the castle, and I filmed a little. I wanted to see it because it really has quite a rich history involving the English royals and nobles during the Tudor period. We drove through Stratford-upon-Avon, and we saw Anne Hathaway's house (Shakepeare's wife, not the actress :P). It was Tudor-style with a thatched roof, exactly how you would imagine it to be :P We stopped off in the centre of town for a coffee, and we saw Shakespeare's birthplace. It was also a Tudor-style house. Stratford-upon-Avon is really a one-trick pony. Everything is Shakespeare-themed. And some things have pretty tenuous links to Shakespeare. And some places are even named after Christopher Marlowe, a playwright and Shakespeare contemporary who had not much to do with Stratford! We continued our drive to Chesterfield, and drove past the highway exit that led to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire! :D I was keeping my eye out for Robin Hood :P We got stuck on the M1 in standstill traffic for about half an hour. We heard on the radio that a car had caught fire, and two of the three lanes were closed. We began to move, but it took another 20 minutes to go about 1km. We drove past what turned out to be a truck that had caught fire, and of course traffic flowed freely beyond the truck. We arrived in Chesterfield, and you could tell we were in the (post-)Industrial North, with all of the red-brick buildings. We checked in to the guest house and spoke to our host Martin (with a real Sheffield-like accent, like on 'The Full Monty' :P) about where to eat and where to walk in the Peaks, and then we walked to Subway for a quick lunch.
We drove to the Robin Hood Pub, past some awesome northern moorland! Not quite the Yorkshire Moors, but still very close to Yorkshire! Derbyshire, actually - Mr Darcy country! :P We asked a local where to go for a nice walk, but his recommendations through the moors meant walking through fields and mud, which we were not keen on! He recommended walking the back way to the hunting lodge on the hill behind Chatsworth House. Chatsworth House (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatsworth_House) is a large manor house and estate that it is said Jane Austen based 'Pemberley' on in 'Pride and Prejudice'. It was used as Pemberley in the 2005 movie version of the book. We spoke to a woman in the Robin Hood Pub, and she recommended we drive to Baslow and walk in the park at Chatsworth House. When we ran into Chele and Andrew in Bath, they mentioned to us that Chatsworth House is a bit of a madhouse, so we wanted to avoid going inside the house, but we decided to walk the grounds. We drove to Baslow and walked to the Chatsworth House park (Chatsworth Park). The park was beautiful, and so big! We walked to the house and along what we later found out was the River Derwent (it actually seemed more like a wide stream), and we could see what we assumed was the hunting lodge on top of the hill in the woods behind the house. It looked like a tower. Chatsworth House looked smaller than I had thought it would be, and we saw the scaffolding and shipping containers that Chele had mentioned, ruining nice photos of the house. We crossed the bridge across the river and began to walk on the other side amongst the sheep and lambs, but decided to cross back over the river and walk back through the park close to the woods. I've always fancied a walk in some nice woods :) We walked along the fields of the park a little higher, and there was a stunning view across the Derwent to fields and hills beyond, and we saw a big E and R on one of the fields and assumed it stood for 'Elizabeth Regina' and was there for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Or perhaps it has been there since Elizabeth I was queen and Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in Chatsworth House, just so Mary wouldn't forget who was the rightful sovereign of England, and to get those treasonous, usurping thoughts and plans out of Mary's (soon to be removed) head! :P We walked up to the woods and saw that the ground was covered in beautiful purple bluebells, and the view was even more lovely from there. We kept walking along up near the woods and came upon a stile that went over the fence into the woods, and we decided to walk up into the woods. We climbed over the stile and walked up the woodland path and saw some people walking towards us. They told us that we could get to the hunting lodge along the path. We continued up the path and along a private road to the hunting lodge, which is actually a tower. There was a beautiful view from up there! I was confused about what the hunting lodge was used for, because there were no chimneys; perhaps it was only used in summer...? But then, how was food cooked? Did they need to cook food in there?
We walked back down to the park, and walked back into Baslow. We drove to Bakewell for dinner, and found a pub that looked busy. I wanted a roast for dinner, so I could have Yorkshire pudding, because we weren't going to Yorkshire so I wanted to have it in the nearest place to Yorkshire we were going! But they had sold out of roast dinners for the night!!! I got pie instead.
Ultimate cultural experience of the day: Driving past Sherwood Forest, and seeing the historically-rich Chatsworth House and walking the grounds :)
On the morning of Monday 14 May, we had an early full English breakfast and chatted to Martin about the interesting (and often destructive) guests they have in their B&B. After breakfast, we drove north-west through the Peak District National Park to Lyme Park, which is the manor house and estate used as Mr Darcy's house 'Pemberley' in the 1995 BBC version of 'Pride and Prejudice' :) The park opens at 8am, and the house and gardens at 11am. We were there early, so the house wasn't open. We went into the inner courtyard of the house (the courtyard was open), which I think was used in the movie :) We tried to find a path around the back of the house to see the 'Mr Darcy lake', but we couldn't see one, and to get behind on another path was a massive loop. We saw some deer resting on the side of a hill near some copse woods and decided to go see them up close and have a look at the hunting lodge (called 'the Cage'), which was perched all by itself up on the top of the desolate-looking hill. We walked up to the Cage (similar to the hunting lodge at Chatsworth House), and there were nice views over the countryside. I walked down the hill a little towards where the deer were congregated above the copse woods and had a closer look, and they were looking at us :) Just before we left, one of the bucks with big antlers started staring at me and stood up, so I thought it best to leave :P We walked back to the house and tried to find a way around the back to the lake, but the gate we tried was locked. I asked a man who I could see was just arriving for work there how we could get in, and he said that the house and gardens opened at 11am (it was only 10am at this stage) and we wouldn't be able to see the back until then. He asked if I was referring to the "Mr Darcy lake" :P (yes, yes I was). We went back to the car and left because we didn't want to wait an hour for the house to open, as we had plans for a long walk in the afternoon.
We had driven about five minutes up the road when we decided to go back because it was my only chance to see the house and the lake. When we drove back down the driveway through the park, there was a man waiting to sell us tickets. We thought we could see the back of the house for free from the park (we thought that when Chele and Andrew had recommended we go there, that they said they walked around the back of the house for free, so we thought we could). But the man said that it was £5, so we paid that. He gave us some vague directions about going through a gate behind the car park to see the lake. We parked the car and saw two gates to go through. We went through the bigger gate and started walking up a dirt road. We weren't sure if we had chosen the right gate, but we saw a school group walking towards the gate we had chosen, so we assumed it was the right one and continued walking. It seemed like we were walking really far away from the house, so we asked the teacher how to get to the back of the house. She said that we should keep following the path around and look for a gate on the left that would lead us through the deer park and to the back of the house. We kept walking and found the gate and walked down through the deer park. There were some white-coloured deer there, and I'm not sure if they were younger than the brown ones or a different breed or just simply a different colour. We could see the back of the house as we were walking down the middle of the deer park, but didn't see the lake until we got to the fence line between the deer park and the garden. It was a big black thick-wire fence that we couldn't take clear photos or video through without capturing the bars. We could see the whole back of the house and the lake and where Lizzie walks down and catches Mr Darcy after his swim in the lake, but we couldn't get to it. We took photos over the fence (which was difficult because it was so high), and I shimmied my hand and the video camera through the bars and filmed a little, but I couldn't zoom because I wasn't holding the camera properly through the bars. We tried to walk along the fence to the right to try to get an angle view but there were trees in the way and the path became mud, and we had had enough of mud! When we were ready to leave, we saw a path that went along the back fence line and followed that, and it brought us back out to the car park! It was a gate in a corner that we hadn't seen when we had first arrived. It was frustrating because what could have been a five minute walk up behind the house ended up being a 45-minute shlep up the back and through the deer park to the back of the house! It was almost 12pm and we were over it by that time, and I had gotten to see the Mr Darcy spots, so we left.
We drove all the way back through the Peak District National Park south-east to Bakewell for lunch and to start walking on the Monsal Trail to Buxton, but we couldn't find a park anywhere because there was some markets on. So we drove west back through the National Park to Buxton, so we could do the walk from Buxton to Bakewell instead. We parked and paid a couple of pounds because we saw a parking inspector there, so we made sure we paid enough for a few hours. We walked to the information centre to get some information about the Monsal Trail, which we had thought ran from Buxton to Bakewell. We were told that the path actually starts outside Buxton and we would have to drive and park there. We had a quick sandwich for lunch and left our fully-paid-for car park and drove to the car park outside Buxton, near the start of the Monsal Trail. We went for a nice walk along a beautiful stream from the car park to where the Monsal Trail started. There was a row of pretty terrace houses across the steam that I couldn't take my eyes off, for some reason. We started the walk along the Monsal Trail, where the old railway was. The Monsal Trail is a long, flat walk for about 14km along what used to be a railway line (the tracks are no longer there) (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsal_Trail). We walked past an old railway station, and a lime kiln. We walked over a bridge, and people were abseiling off the bridge. We walked through about six railway tunnels during the walk, some which were quite long. They were not lit inside, so the only light was coming from the start and end of each tunnel. It rained for a short time, but we were wearing our full rain gear this time :P We walked past some quite different scenery, including woods, meadows and fields, desolate moors and rocky peaks. I especially liked the moors, that really looked desolate and bleak in the rain! It was a really long walk, and took about four-and-a-half hours. We walked past Hassop Station and Bakewell Station, and Dan thought we could walk along the road from there to Bakewell, but we kept walking. We got to the end of the trail and had to backtrack to Bakewell - turns out we should have walked along the road from Bakewell Station like Dan thought. We went to the supermarket and got some apples and Mars Buttons (a product not available in Australia, it is little balls with three different flavours - Mars whey, caramel and crispy Malteser-like substance). We found the bus stop we needed to get the bus back to the car, and it was a freezing evening! We got the bus to a corner near the car park and walked along the road to the car. We drove back to Chesterfield and called Martin to ask what his pub recommendation was. He said the Market Place, but with his awesome Sheffield-like accent, it sounded more like, "Mar-kit Plairse" :P We went to the pub for dinner, and I got roast lamb with Yorkshire pudding, and it was the closest I've been to Yorkshire and had Yorkshire pudding :)
Ultimate cultural experience of the day: seeing the Mr Darcy lake at Lyme Park, walking the Monsal Trail, and eating Yorkshire pudding a few kilometres from Yorkshire :)
- Unless you're a huge Shakespeare fan, give Stratford-"the-tourist-trap"-upon-Avon a miss.
- The Peak District has lots of beautiful land, fields and walks to be had. The area around Chatsworth, in particular, is fantastic for light walking.
- You do not have to purchase a ticket to Lyme Park if you want to see the famous Mr Darcy lake. You also do not have to walk 45 minutes from the car park!
- Monsal Trail is a great, leisurely walk with many interesting sights and landscapes.