Britain is in the grip of a heatwave at the time of writing, with sweltering temperatures triggering sales of ice cream, beer and BBQs. Summer is well and truly here, and there’s no sign of any rain until the school holidays begin! Great summer days need great summer walks, complete with a cracking picnic spot. In my new Peak District Year Round Walks, I have researched and written up simple instructions for five walks within each season.
One of the summer-inspired chapters of the book takes in the delightful town of Bakewell and visits nearby Chatsworth House. On a long, bright day, this provides a great family day out. The walk can be combined with a visit to the famous country house, a stroll around its ornate gardens, and there’s plenty for kids to do in the farmyard and adventure playground. The walk in the book calls in at Bakewell, too, giving you the chance to grab a famous Bakewell Pudding and sit a while by the river. The route covering Bakwell and Chatsworth is just one of the summer walks – check out my blog on Dovedale and visit the famous stepping stones across the river.
The wonderful parkland at Chatsworth is a fantastic place to explore, whether it’s gazing at ancient trees, meandering to Edensor village or gazing at the hunting tower. It is a truly inspiring landscape, worked on by Capability Brown and with many of his features surviving to this day. He straightened the river flowing past the house and added many of the trees that are still planted around the grounds to improve the quality of the view. He also moved the village of Edensor to its present location, so that the houses could no be seen from the windows of Chatsworth. But it is the actual house that commands the most respect and dominates the parkland as soon as it comes into view. In the early 20th Century, alterations to tax collection and a wave of social change put a lot of pressure on grand country houses such as Chatsworth. Unlike many similar houses, Chatsworth has survived as the family home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. Today, it generates money from allowing visitors into the house, garden and farmyard, where there is a great playground for children. The house is extremely popular at Christmas, when each year it is decorated with a different theme and opens its doors to coach parties and family day trippers from all over the country. There are many splendid rooms to look at inside, but if you don’t fancy entering the house make sure you give it a good examination from the outside. There are many important people who have been here and shared the view, including Queen Victoria. You can absorb the history of this country house as you wander through the park.