BAKEWELL OLD HOUSE MUSEUM
Sited just above the parish church of All Saints, this much-loved asset to Bakewell is housed in an old cottage dating from the 1530s. The property was saved from demolition in 1954 by the formation of Bakewell & District Historical Society, having recognised its historical importance. This dedicated society has spent many years on its restoration while building up a folk museum. A tour of this higgledy-piggledy house with its Tudor lavatory and ancient fittings is fascinating in its own right. Exhibits donated by well-wishers range from Victorian kitchenalia to an elephant’s foot (and thereby hangs a tale), costumes and needlework, craftsmen’s tools and farming equipment, bygone toys and items recalling long retired local trades, for example a traditional barber’s pole and embossed glass bottles. Look too for a touch of Black Magic! Tel: 01629 813642. Website: www.oldhousemuseum.org.uk CARSINGTON WATER
In the spring of 1992 Severn Trent Water opened its new reservoir, Carsington Water, about six miles from Ashbourne. The recreational facilities are now unrivalled: a water sports base with hire facilities, a sailing club offering day passes, bird hides, cycle hire and a multifunctional visitor centre with interactive working displays, adventure playground and cook-it-yourself barbecues. Vast areas of young woodland surround the reservoir, with conservation and wildlife given high priority. Car parks are ample, giving access to the cycle route and footpaths.
Open daily from 10am. Tel: 01629 540696.
The Sailing Club is open from February through to December and hosts a number of racing events. The Club provides sail training to anyone and runs courses covering beginners through to racing. There is a very active youth element and children are encouraged to join training courses, learn to sail and have fun. Tel: 01629 540609. Website: www.carsingtonsc.co.uk.CHATSWORTH HOUSE & GARDENS
As a reward for his part in putting William and Mary on the throne, the 4th Earl of Devonshire was created 1st Duke of that title. His Chatsworth replaced the earlier Elizabethan mansion built by his formidable grandmother, Bess of Hardwick. Their descendants continue to make Chatsworth their home, currently the 12th Duke of Devonshire and his family. Known as the Palace of the Peak, Chatsworth is as magnificent inside as out. Elaborate waterworks are the highlight of gardens laid out by Sir Joseph Paxton, including the dramatic Great Cascade and Emperor Fountain. Visits can be made to the Adventure Playground and Farmyard on purchase of a separate ticket. The extensive Chatsworth Park is freely open to the public, with play and picnic areas as exciting or peaceful as you choose.
Telephone: 01246 565300. Website: www.chatsworth.org
... or to give it its full title, the Chestnut Centre Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park. This 50-acre centre lies between Castleton and Chapel en le Frith in the Peak District National Park and is a member of The Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland. You may have already paid it an armchair visit through various television programmes. Here is conservation in action and visitors can make close acquaintance with Europe’s largest collection of multi-specied owls and otters, in fact as close as most of us can ever get. There are lots of opportunities for unusual photographs so don’t forget your camera. Tel: 01298 814099.
CHURNET VALLEY RAILWAY, CHEDDLETON
This heritage railway runs through the scenic Churnet Valley near Leek. Journeys start from either Cheddleton or Froghall Station and the whole site offers a glimpse of history brought back to life. Once on board their chosen train, visitors can chug along some five miles of the CVR line on most weekends and summer weekdays. Steam and diesel services operate to different rotas. On their journey southwards, trains enter the long Cheddleton tunnel, emerging to pass railway cottages and a former paper mill as the scene prepares to open up some beautiful views around the river Churnet and Caldon canal. Along the line is Consall with its passing loop and signalling and a possibly unique 100-year-old waiting room overhanging the canal. Look too for the Devil’s Staircase, London Bridge, disused lime kilns, the site of an ironstone mine and a large copper works. Authentic railway relics are housed in a museum at Cheddleton station.
Tel: 01538 360522. Website: www.churnet-valley-railway.co.uk
CRICH TRAMWAY VILLAGE
Special events make for a memorable day out at this lively all-weather family attraction, with its scenic tramway and a choice of tram rides from its extensive and historic collection. Trams trundle off along the cobbled main street (look out for a real Tardis and a recreated pub and shops of yesteryear), then they head off into shady woodland and emerge on the hillside to give wonderful views of the Derwent Valley. Somewhere along the line you will catch sight of Crich Stand, an impressive inland lighthouse commemorating the Sherwood Foresters. A woodland walk reveals some weird and wonderful sculptures amongst the trees, while the halfway halt at Wakebridge has the added interest of a display of old lead mining and quarrying relics.
For over 300 years this charming Hall was kept secret from outside eyes, all this time in the ownership of the Wright family, who live there still. A treasure trove of hoarded belongings was finally restored to the light of day when the Hall, standing at the heart of this famous ‘plague village’, opened its doors to the public in 1992. The rooms display fine treasures, china and portraits and in true tradition Eyam Hall has a ghost or two, so keep your eyes peeled! The former farmyard boasts a working craft centre, with local products on sale.
Tel: 01443 631976. Website: www.eyamhall.com
Eyam has gone down in history for its voluntary isolation when it was struck by Bubonic Plague in 1665/6, carried to the home of the village tailor from London in a box of cloth. The tailor died within days and before the highly contagious disease was done, three-quarters of the population had followed him to hastily dug graves all around the village. Naturally, the plague story is central to Eyam Museum, the blame being laid fair and square on rats and fleas.
Tel: 01433 631371.
Taking all visitors into account, the Peak District National Park is the second most visited national park in the world after Mount Fuji in Japan. The National Trust owns stretches of land within the Peak Park including the 1,600 acres of open moorland, woodland and gritstone edges that make up the Longshaw Estate near Hathersage, once the shooting estate of the Duke of Rutland. Padley Gorge, with its ancient oak woodland, is an specially beautiful part of Longshaw in late autumn, while numerous other areas reward walkers and ramblers with magnificent open views. Dogs can be brought along but must be kept on a lead as this is sheep country. Longshaw Visitor Centre includes a National Trust shop and café.
NATIONAL STONE CENTRE, WIRKSWORTH
Dusty maybe, but dry certainly not. Endless surprises come to light in the telling of the multi-million-year-old story of stone. Our entire way of life depends on stone and we will each use 20 lorry loads in our lifetime. One quarry on this site was last worked to supply crushed stone for the M1 in the mid-1960s. The National Stone Centre is a world first, with an indoor exhibition centre and outdoor trails incorporating dramatic quarries and one of the best fossil limestone reefs in the country. Hard to believe that here were once tropical lagoons — which explains the existence of sharks’ teeth and sea lilies! The car park gives access to the High Peak walking/cycling trail. Tel: 01629 824833.
PEAK RAIL, MATLOCK & DARLEY DALE
After years of hard work, Peak Rail, a voluntary society, has reinstated a long section of line which fell to Beeching’s Axe, a loss mourned to this day. The declared aim of Peak Rail is to reopen the line all the way to Buxton, reinstating rail travel through the heart of the Peak District and bringing the area back into the national rail network. Visitors can already take a steam train journey through the riverside meadows of the Derwent Valley between Matlock and Darley Northwood. Much activity takes place at Darley Dale station, while Santa Specials and summer events add to the atmosphere. Tel: 01629 580381.
RED HOUSE WORKING CARRIAGE MUSEUM,
If you ever wondered where television and film producers manage to find those authentic horse-drawn carriages, the answer is quite likely to be in this relaxed, hands-on collection. Here are four-wheeled stars of films ranging from The Flambards, Wuthering Heights, Sons & Lovers, Jane Eyre (three times) and Pride & Prejudice to children’s productions such as Blue Peter and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Why, even Max from The Tweenies took one of the carriages for a spin. Each vehicle is maintained in working order and some are a familiar sight around the Peak, where the hills and dales form a beautiful backdrop for nostalgic sight-seeing tours, weddings and Christmastime jaunts by Santa Claus and his helpers.
Tel: 01629 733583. Website: www.aboutbritain.com/redhousestables.htm
Amongst the many stone circles of the Peak, two in particular stand out. Arbor Low is an impressive Neolithic construction standing on a limestone plateau near Monyash. Known as the Stonehenge of the North, its use possibly involved religious ceremony and astronomical observations. The circle comprises some 40 large recumbent stones which may never have been upright. A nearby barrow named Gib Hill has revealed cremation and food vessels.
Visitors pay a small charge at the farm at the entrance to the site.
Nine Ladies circle on Stanton Moor does consist of upright stones, erected during the Bronze Age on this windswept area of millstone grit. The surrounding moorland is an important Bronze Age cemetery site and has revealed much evidence of the Beaker people, so called from the ornamental clay beakers found in their graves. Access is free.
UPPER DERWENT RESERVOIRS
Ladybower reservoir forms a chain with the Howden and Derwent reservoirs, its construction having ‘drowned’ the old villages of Derwent and Ashopton.
A no-through road signposted to Derwent Valley skirts all three reservoirs and leads to a visitor centre/car park, with opportunities for a walk of whatever distance you fancy, both waterside and moorland. At certain times of year an impressive cascade thunders down the dam wall. Look too for a roadside monument to Tip, telling the touching story of a dog’s devotion to her owner, a shepherd who got lost in the snow on the moors.
WHISTLESTOP COUNTRYSIDE CENTRE
The Whistlestop Countryside Centre in Matlock Bath houses the Trust’s wildlife Gardening exhibition, demonstration wildlife garden and gift shop. In addition, thousands of children visit the centre each year, to take part in environmental education sessions and family activities.
The garden contains many plants and features which can easily be incorporated into a garden to attract more wildlife. This is complemented by an indoor exhibition, where budding wildlife gardeners will find more inspiration and motivation.
The well-stocked shop helps support the Trust’s work as all proceeds go back into Trust funds and provides information about Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
The Centre is open at weekends only, 12 noon to 4pm until April 1st. During the summer it is open every day from 10am to 5pm. Tel: 01629 580958. Website: www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk