In December I spent a week in Derbyshire. Not far into Derbyshire, the cottage was very close to Sheffield, but Derbyshire none-the-less. So I’ll write about that for a bit.
One of the days we went to visit the market in Bakewell. The first thing I noticed about Bakewell was that there’s a ton of padlocks on one of the bridges, with little messages and dates on. It’s not something I’ve ever seen before and it seemed a bit odd. I’ve looked it up, and apparently they are ‘love locks’ and aren’t really uncommon – in fact, they’re common enough throughout Europe to have a campaign against them. I thought they looked quite nice on Bakewell’s bridge, but looking at some of the pictures of other places where there’s a lot more of them, I can see why people don’t like them. I think it’s one of those things that’s pretty cool until it gets out of hand, which I wouldn’t say it has on that particular bridge, so right now it looks OK. I suppose it helps that it’s a fairly standard bridge other than the padlocks, so they’re more of a distinguishing feature than anything else.
We also met some hybrid geese in Bakewell. Domestic mixed with Canadian, which is always a tiny bit terrifying. The one reassuring thing about domestic geese is that… well, they are domestic. As long as you don’t enter their field or whatever, they won’t try to murder you. And Canadian geese aren’t too unfriendly – I mean, I wouldn’t try to touch one or anything, but they don’t seem to want to hurt people just for existing. Of course, the hybrid geese had inherited the domestic goose temperament, and we have a dog – he was on a lead and kept controlled, but we got hissed at. Got past them pretty fast, though, wouldn’t dare do otherwise.
And of course the market itself. I don’t claim to be a big market person, but I enjoyed wandering about it, even if I didn’t buy anything from it but a few necklaces. Markets are always nice to have a look about, there’ll be some interesting stuff if nothing else.
Another day of the week we visited Chatsworth House, which is an extremely large stately home with a tour and various other things to do on the grounds. It’s home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, who also happen to own the Bolton Abbey Estate, where Strid Wood – as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, one of my favourite places – is. The family name is Cavendish, which is why Bolton Abbey has the Cavendish Pavillion. I’d never questioned the name, but it was still good to get an answer.
We did the tour. It is truly impressive inside, but a little difficult to appreciate due to the crowds. That’s the problem with things like this; everyone wants to go see them, and so crowds are inevitable. Still very impressive though, it’s really everything you could have asked for from a massive, historical hous stately home. In itself, the building is awesome. It’s got the gigantic rooms that make you go ‘wow’ just from stepping into them, and it’s one after the other. In fact, that’s going to be my excuse as to why I’m struggling to describe it terribly well; I was overwhelmed by the place. Because they weren’t just big, they were all gorgeous too. They had scenes painted on the roofs, beautifully tiled floors, and all sorts of patterns on the walls.
Not every single room was like that, these were the rooms where events would have been held in the past. They were designed to impress people, and they do their job. You get into some smaller, more understated rooms at some point, but that’s understated by the standards of Chatsworth House, and that’s still pretty impressive. The small rooms were still quite big, and very tastefully done – and I am not someone who would usually register things as being ‘tasteful’.
That’s the house itself, but it’s also full of things to look at. Paintings – many, many paintings, and sculptures. There’s a sculpture gallery at the end of the tour – you go from the big rooms to the smaller rooms, then into some more big rooms – but they’re all over the house.
After doing the tour we went and had a look in the farm. I don’t really have much to say about the farm, but animals are always nice to look at and photograph. They didn’t have anything beyond the standard farm animals. There were some piglets, some of them very small, so that was adorable, and there were various chicken varieties wandering about. You know, the ones that look a bit weird? Ones with hats and ones with shoes, as my mother said. I see chickens all the time, it’s not an odd thing to keep them where I live, so it was nice seeing some different ones.
There’s some shops there too, but it was all slightly higher quality and price stuff than I tend to buy. Even from the giftshop at the end of the tour I only got some postcards – though, actually, that was more due to that shop being absolutely packed and my wanting to get out of there than anything.
I wandered off by myself, agreeing to meet my family at the car, and proceeded to get a little lost in the gardens. Well, no, I wasn’t lost. I just kept getting distracted and wandering a little further. I didn’t have very much time so I wasn’t actually planning to go round the gardens. I only went back in to get photos of the house. But I kept spotting stuff and going towards them, then spotting something else. I didn’t go round the whole gardens, or even close to it, but I saw a decent chunk.
My favourite part was the rock garden. Interesting to look at and fun to walk about. There’s a water feature in there that is built to mimic the Strid over at Bolton Abbey. I didn’t actually clock it at the time. I saw a little sign along the path with ‘The Strid’ written on it, but I just thought it was a funny little coincidence, and didn’t think I had seen it. It was only when I was reading through the guidebook later – which is probably the wrong order to do things in – that I realised what it was and that I must have seen it. I think I know what it is. Well, I can’t see what else it could be.
So that’s slightly interesting.
The rock garden also has the coal tunnel, which is exactly what it sounds like, just a tunnel you can walk through. When I say the rock garden has it, I mean the entrance/exit (I think you were only meant to go through one way, but I couldn’t quite click which way that was) is in the rock garden. The other side is much easier to spot. Anyway, tunnels are fun.
I also enjoyed the Cascade. It’s a big water feature with water going down steps, and each step is designed to have a different sound. And they do; I didn’t walk right up it but I went a little way and there really is a very distinctive sound on each one.
They have a maze too, which I spotted, but didn’t have enough time to go to. But then when I met up with my family, they’d seen something about a maze and wanted to go have a look at it, so back into the gardens it was. We ended up going round all the stuff I had already been to on the way there and back, because it really is a very easy place to get distracted in. Things are close enough that you can spot them from other things, and it all looks so interesting. It takes a bit of an effort to actually leave once you’re in there.
Anyway, the maze. It’s a bit funny because there used to be a conservatory there, and there’s still some ruins of it surrounding the maze. That made for a cool effect.
Other features of the gardens we saw were the Emperor Fountain, which was built for a visit by Tsar Nicholas I which ended up never happening (you can tell I’ve got the guidebook now, can’t you?). Also the Ring Pond, the Willow Tree Fountain, which is a fountain shaped like a tree and we had a quick look at the greenhouse.
So that was Chatsworth.
And we climbed Mam Tor, which is something my family always does when in Derbyshire. I say ‘climbed’. We parked in the car park that’s not so very far from the top, walked up to the summit and then back. I have done it from Castleton and gone right over before, but we can’t do that right now, so it was just a little walk this time.
I really like the shape of Mam Tor. I can’t really describe it, it just is very… shapely, I suppose. I don’t mean it’s got a distinctive shape to look at, you can see it as you’re on it. The whole area is shapely, really, I did most of the walk off the path because I wanted to get plenty of pictures of the view along the way.
And then we went down into Castleton for a little while, wandered about it.
On another day we went to Chesterfield. We went there to shop, primarily. It’s got quite a lot of good shops, and various markets throughout the week, so it was a nice outing.
Chesterfield’s ‘thing’, though, is the Crooked Spire, on a church that is the largest in Derbyshire. I went to have a quick look at that and snapped a couple of pictures – admittedly not brilliant ones. I was torn between my desire to photograph interesting things, and my desire to spend money on stuff I don’t really need, and the latter won out. But I got a look.
We also had a bit of a wander about the countryside near the cottage. It’s always nice to do that. There was nothing remarkable about the area, but it was nice, it had some little quirks. There seemed to be a lot of dips in the ground, and we found a couple of stone crosses. Well, one stone cross, one stone pillar that I assume was once a cross, but I have no actual evidence of that. It was just quite close to and similar in what remained to the the one that was a cross. The other one was in a little wood that had been planted – clear from how straight the trees were. So that’s… not really interesting, is it? It was enjoyable to wander about there, but not terribly thrilling to read about, especially when it’s me doing the writing.
One thing in the field with the possibly-a-cross was that there seemed to be a lot of dips in it, just sort of randomly. It’s not like I’ve never seen that kind of thing, but there were just so many in one place that I found it notable. And interesting to look at, so that’s always good.
And I think I’m out of stuff to rabbit on about, but I think I did quite a good job of rabbiting in this post. Pictures will hopefully follow before too long, but there again I’ve been intending to finish this post for a while now, so I promise nothing. But thanks for looking at my blog, I hope I was at least a tiny bit interesting in my rambles.