Thursday, 27 April 2017

A guide to Chatsworth

D E R B Y S H I R E  |  E N G L A N D 

Welcome to my favourite place in the world. 


Firstly, welcome to Derbyshire if it's your first time visiting or even if you're just planning a trip here, I'm pretty damn fortunate to live in such a gorgeous part of the country and I may be biased but I think it is well deserving of a visit. Between both here and Sheffield, I'd say there's a hell of a lot for you to do but right now, I'm going to share with you my guide to Chatsworth. Having loved Chatsworth for years, I actually have to now drive through the parkland to head to work in Bakewell these days and I have to admit...it beats driving down the M1 for sure!

Chatsworth House is a stately home located in Bakewell (postcode: DE45 1PP) just on the bank of the River Derwent. It is tucked away amongst woodland and the estate's parkland and whilst the house itself is gorgeous and a must see, you can also visit the farmyard, stables, their farm shop (that has THE best bakery section but I'll talk about that later), garden centre as well as so much more. I'm pretty damn lucky to live literally 20 minutes away from here and I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said that this place feels like my second home I'm there that much. 

www.chatsworth.org



Rather than bombarding you with photos and facts about the house (as I like to do that to my friends when I drag them walking around the parkland with me), I think the interior of the house is best kept a surprise for you but here are just a few of the extra things that you can get up to on the estate. 


STAND WOOD WALKING

Parking next to the house as usual, you walk up towards the Farmyard at the top of the hill and head to the right through a little gate. Either make your way through the woodland on the tracks or just follow the winding road up to the top, you pass the impressive arched aqueduct and eventually reach the Hunting Tower which was built in the 1570's (Food for thought, you can actually rent it as a holiday home) and once you've had enough of the insane views you can carry on the trail, there are literally so many different routes from this point onwards. At one point this was a weekly walk for me and Darwin and we never tired of the views so I'm sure you'll be blown away and it gives you somewhat a birds eye view over the estate.

Tip: When you hit the aqueduct, come off the road and follow the little trail up towards the stone arches and climb the wooden steps.....there is a bridge built over the waterways and you get the most amazing view looking down to the house as the water feeds the main flowing attraction that goes through the centre of the garden. 


COUNTRY FAIR 
(1st - 3rd September 2017)
Every year Chatsworth hosts a huge country fair located in the grounds. With food, shopping, shows and competitions it makes for the perfect family day out. Oh,t hey even had Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry last year so it's kind of a big deal if you're into your baking. A couple of years back I opted to head into the garden just in time to watch the Red Arrows fly over the house and I literally felt like I had the best seat in the house as they flew straight up the middle of the garden over our heads. Just a tip, if you were thinking about heading into the Garden or even the House when the Country Fair is on then there is an additional entry charge and it is not part of your ticket price unfortunately.

THE CHRISTMAS THEME
If there is one thing that is worth seeing at Chatsworth.....it is their Christmas decorations!! Each year the house takes on a different theme and a team works throughout the year to organise the props, costumes and displays (My dream job right there!). The house has taken on the storyline of everything from Narnia to the Nutcracker and not a single detail is spared. Being a regular at Chatsworth, I love the fact that there is late openings to view the decorations, there's definitely something special about the house when it is dark and wintery outside. 

THE FARM SHOP
Located in Pilsley and literally a 5 minute drive from the house is the Farm Shop and it is the best kind of pit stop as you're heading home. Selling everything you could possibly want from a local Farm Shop from fresh fruit and veg to local ales and hands down the best bakery treats ever. On my way home from work, I actually go and pick up their bread more so than anything else but their shortbread.....honestly, you can thank me later for introducing you to them. Again...another Christmas tip but they usually add a huge Hamper section to the shop when the festive season kicks off where you buy a fancy Chatsworth basket hamper and fill it with some of the most amazing treats, admittedly they cost a pretty penny by the time you've filled them up but they would make an incredible gift. 

THE TEA COTTAGE in EDENSOR
This is a new find for me, the Tea Cottage which hides away in the village of Edensor. Edensor is a gated village just around the corner from the house that looks like something straight out of a storybook and has easily become one of my favourite places to get breakfast in Derbyshire (by breakfast, I mean cake). The place itself is cosy and the staff are genuinely beyond lovely, so much so that it has this homely atmosphere. I actually went with my sister and her boys to scope out the place for potential afternoon tea to celebrate my Mum's 50th and literally from the moment we walked through the door, we were sold. Fast forward a week and we were back along with my Mum and Auntie for the most incredible afternoon tea! Being a funny bunch of eats, I had a vegetarian stand and my Auntie had a GF stand....safe to say there was a tonne of sandwiches, cakes and scones to see us through (and doggy bags to take the leftovers home too). 

Tip: If you're thinking about heading here after the house/garden/farmyard/hiking then just keep your car parked up by the house and take a 10 minute stroll to Edensor as parking is limited and this place gets busy pretty easily. 

Just a few extra bits of information/tips.... 

There are two main car parks, the car park by the house is roughly £4 whilst the one by the garden centre is a bit cheaper but a pretty decent walk away. 

The garden centre also has an amazing little cafe, as does the Farm Shop. 

Visit in the Spring, the entire open parkland is full of lambs roaming freely....so much so that they are currently my only bit of traffic on my way to work as I sit to let them strut down the road.

Be sure to look out for the painted violin and the veiled lady in the house, they're simply stunning.

Shopping in the stables is lovely, they have everything from homewares to food, books to clothing. 

Also, if you are taking a wander up into the woods then pop into the stables first for a coffee to take with you.

For those Jane Austen fans out there, you're probably already aware that they filmed at Chatsworth and they still have the Mr. Darcy bust but no, you're not allowed to kiss him.

Toilets (always important) go to the ones tucked in the entrance to the stables, they're actually like mini stables for the cubicles. 

If you're in the house, there is a dress up box located upstairs....just saying if you're into that or obviously have children (I dressed up in an outfit once that had my looking like Austin Powers in the blue velour suit).

Find the maze in the garden and go looking for the giant chess pieces to play with in the summer and you'll feel like you've stepped straight into some kind of Alice in Wonderland scene. 

So that's my guide to Chatsworth, I hope you love it just as much as I do and if you weren't planning on visiting then I hope you are now.

ps. I definitely had to stop myself from telling the Duke of Devonshire just how much I loved his house when he awarded me my Masters Degree at my Graduation in November! 





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