This is the diary of a five night holiday in Derbyshire. It was organised by Jane and Jenet.
Click here for all the photos and here for the locations of the photos.
|Friday, 6 December - Kedleston Hall and Hope
Saturday, 7 December - Eyam Hall, Matlock Mines and Cromford Mills
Sunday, 8 December - Hardwick Halls and Bolsover Castle
|Monday, 9 December - Haddon Hall and Chatsworth House
Tuesday, 10 December - The Reservoirs and the Blue John Cavern
Wednesday, 11 December - Leaving Hope
We drive up from Birmingham where we have stayed the night with Hugh and Jane. We follow the A38 north until we meet a large traffic jam on the approach to Derby. We turn off and make our way to Kedleston Hall where we are due to meet Jenet and Dave. At Kedleston Hall (more...) we discover that our National Trust membership, which we thought we had renewed in Devon earlier in the year, was no longer valid so we rejoined. Kedleston Hall is closed but we are charged £1 to enter the grounds and the church. The four of us have a drink of tea in the restaurant and are entertained by some practising carol singers. We visit the church and are entertained by the choir again. Dave and his sat-nav guide us to Hope and its market place. It seems that Dave may have pressed the scenic route button as we travel along many country lanes. We pull into the car park of the Old Hall Hotel (more...) and introduce ourselves to Dom, the hotel manager. Our rooms have four poster beds and overlook the main road and church. We rest and then eat in the restaurant.
We meet at 8:30 am in the Tea Rooms attached to the hotel. Here we are greeted by Sue and Ann. Ann is leaving shortly to take up a position as caretaker of Mochrum Castle in Dumfries and Galloway. She is very excited about it. We are introduced to the Full Derbyshire Breakfast - two rashers of bacon, two sausages, two fried eggs, mushrooms, baked beans, sautéed potatoes, black pudding and oat cakes. There is an apology for the lack of tomatoes. Served with toast, coffee and orange juice it will obviate the need to have lunch. We leave the hotel and make our way to Eyam (pronounced 'eem') , where the bubonic plague was brought to it on an infected piece of leather. We are too early for the opening of the Museum. To visit it we should return in March. We visit Eyam Hall (more...) , a recently acquired National Trust property, and Jenet and Dave want to join the National Trust on the same terms as we had joined. The manager will investigate. We traipse through the rooms of Eyam Hall and its garden. Jenet and Dave join the National Trust on the same terms as we did. We make our way to Matlock Bath and are just in time to visit the Temple Mine (more...). Adam, our guide, leads the four of us and a father and young son up the hillside to the disused lead mine. We need head protection as the tunnels are narrow. Our shoes get vey muddy. We do a bit of panning for gold at the end and are given bits of pyrites as a reward for being such good visitors. We tour the museum and see our second IBM Time Recorder (the first was in Poland) and then make our way to Cromford Mills (more...) where our tour leader has booked a guided tour at 2pm. Our guide is Jill, who knows everything there is to know about Richard Arkwright and Cromford Mill. Jill is excellent and we part ways an hour later and have tea and toasted tea-cakes in the café. We walk into Cromford and around the town looking at the buildings Richard Arkwright built for his employees, their children and his guests. We return to our hotel and have another good meal washed down with the house Rioja.
At breakfast in the tea room we are introduced to Cheryl, the Tea Rooms manager, who is delightful, cheerful and very efficient. After our Full Derbyshires we go to Hardwick Hall (more...) near Chesterfield and its church with a crooked spire (more...). A cycling race is taking place in the spacious parkland surrounding the buildings. We visit the new Harwick Hall which is where Bess Hardwick lived in her latter years having built the place when she was seventy. It is decorated for Christmas. There are no information sheets so it is a little disappointing. Outside we talk to a student from Sheffield University who has taken two hours by public transport to get here. She is sketching the east side of the building. We make our way to old Hardwick Hall, (run by English Heritage but our entrance fees were included in the National Trust entry) and we take up the offer of a free audio guide. Take note National Trust, these audio guides are very useful. We climb up the many stairs and admire the views at the top. We walk to the stable block and drink hot chocolate. Dave drives us all to Bolsover Castle (more...) where they also have audio guides, as it is an English Heritage site and people with a CADW pass (Welsh equivalent of English Heritage) go in for free! Once you get through the gates it is much more impressive than the initial views. We watch a video and then wander around the information points till we reach the Little Castle where Bess Hardwick's grandson, William Cavendish, created a private bordello. It is magnificent as are the views over to Sheffield. We return to the hotel seeng a beautiful sunset on the way.
There is a problem with the car from Anglesey. The brakes have been making a noise. Enquiries have led Dave to believe that Stuart in the village could fix the problem but Dave determines that Stuart is too busy but Roger in Castleton will fix it tomorrow. We travel to Haddon Hall (more...) on the outskirts of Bakewell. It is privately owned and sits on top of a small hill overlooking the River Wye. There are Christmas decorations aplenty and we make a tour of the chapel, rooms, and gardens using a guide book lent to us. Fortunately the Manners have just had twins so a male heir will inherit the estate. We leave Haddon Hall and make our way to Chatsworth (more...) and pay £3 to park the car -.twice as much as at Haddon Hall. We have hot chocolates in the stable yard. They are more than 10% more expensive than those at Hardwick Hall. We enter the house, owned by the Devonshires, and there is no audio guide as there is a short route through the ground floor where a Narnia exhibition is taking place. The remarkable things are the candles which are artificial but lifelike. We have ordered some from Amazon which are much cheaper than in the Chatsworth shop. We walk into the garden and go past the very tall Emperor Fountain. Then we visit the maze and James Paxton's rock garden and wander past several sculptures. We go into the greenhouses and admire the citrus fruit. After leaving Chatsworth we go into Bakewell to find a tart for each of us. We have tea and a tart at the Bakewell Tart Café. We opt for slices and not tarts. We return to the hotel.
Dave takes the car to Roger at Castleton and returns with Graham to have breakfast at the hotel. Malc, the chef, suggests we go to the set of reservoirs behind Bamford. As the sun is shining we take his advice and drive up to the reservoirs. By the entrance to the Visitors Centre is a gate which has a 'Road Closed' notice on it. During the week cars can drive on the road. We drive for what appears miles to the roundabout with the Royal Tree planted in its centre. We park the car and walk along a bridle way to a bridge which we later learn is a pack horse bridge removed from one of the sunken villages destroyed when the reservoirs filled up. We talk to two men who are walking the 14 mile round trip from the Yorkshire Bridge. We reckon they are walking at just under 3 miles per hour. We return to the car and drive to the site of Tin Town (more...) where navvies lived whilst the reservoir and dams were being built. We stop at the Howden Dam which was used for the bouncing bomb practice by the Dam Busters as it closely resembled a dam in the Ruhr Valley. We make our way up the Snake Pass to the Snake Pass Inn, a cheerless hostelry but manned by cheerful barmen. Graham has a beer and the rest have a coffee. We return to Bamford and up the Hope Valley to Castleton and the Treak Cliff where we find the Blue John Cavern (more...). John takes just the four of us down the 245 steps and shows various sites of the Blue John mineral. We climb back up and go into Castleton to collect Dave's car from Roger. Roger is servicing his 1920's Bugatti in preparation for a trials event over the Christmas holiday. We return to the hotel and dine. We settle our food bill. Jess, our waitress, compliments us on our good naturedness. She is a delight, too. After dinner Dave and Jenet retire to watch 'Last Tango in Halifax' while Graham and Jane take part in the weekly pub quiz. We sit next to some friendly members of HADIT (Hope Amateur Dramatic Independent Theatre) whose next performance is to be a Christmas pantomime in March. We get just over half the answers right and almost win the bingo. Most of the others were in teams of six. This is the latest we have stayed awake on this holiday.
We pack up and have our last Full Derbyshires. We say goodbye to Cheryl who says we are part of the furniture and hopes we will return. The two cars are driven westwards and part where we leave to go to Buxton and Jenet and Dave go to Chapel-en-le-Frifth on their way to Liverpool where Jenet will have an anti-wasp injection. We drive through Buxton, Leek and Stoke to get on to the M6. We drive south to have lunch with Paul and Ali in Chaddesley Corbett. We arrive home at 5pm having spent a wonderful rain-free time in Derbyshire. Graham has written a review for Trip Advisor (more...).
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