Hello! We are back from our week away in Derbyshire, feeling rested and well, and we've come through the other side of the washing mountain and lived to tell the tale. This comes with a "long post" warning so...sorry. I took a lot of photos. Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip back up north and thought the Peak District a rather spectacular place with a ruggedness which reminded me of the Yorkshire Dales. Even arriving in the pouring rain, after a nightmare seven hour car journey, I thought it looked wildly beautiful, with pink and purple hedgerows and yellow golden fields every where you looked.
We stayed not far from Matlock in a place called Darwin Forest. I'd really recommend this place as it's very family and dog friendly and in a great location for exploring the Peaks.
We shared a cabin with my lovely in-laws (and their Jack Russell, Alfie) and it was very cosy indeed with everything you'd want including an amazing power shower which was a lot better than our crappy one at home. And I never thought I'd love wood cladding so much!
On our first day, ready to explore in the sunshine and in search of a local National Trust landmark or similar, we found ourselves on top of a place called Stanton Moor.
Angus had thoughtfully colour coordinated his outfit to match the local landscape.
The purple heather was just stunning and in full bloom everywhere you looked, completely covering the tops of the moors.
That view is one of my mental postcards, stored away to pull out and look out in the middle of winter.
The reason for our trip to Stanton Moor was to see the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. I know, I know, another stone circle - we are not doing a tour of them, I promise - but show me a National Trust or English Heritage landmark and I'm there, before you can utter the words Middle Class. Now, I did not really research the stones before we left, but I was expecting them to be big-ish, like maybe the same height as me.
They are, as you can see, much smaller, but no less interesting and you can climb on them too. But we'd walked a while to find them and kind of built them up to the kids, and so the whole thing did remind me a bit of that scene in the film Spinal Tap.
Other highlights included:
:: Bakewell, a pretty Peaks village made famous by the cake of the same name. There is a trend here for couples in love to inscribe their initials into padlocks (love locks) and then attach them to the bridge, a controversial tradition which began on the Pont des Artes in Paris. I don't really get it, if I'm honest. Have you ever attached an inscribed padlock to a bridge?
:: A picnic lunch at Monsal Head, a beauty spot with the most giddying views down into the valley.
:: Heights of Abraham, to ride the cable cars over the valley and explore the caves below. Absolutely brilliant fun, all of it.
:: Matlock Baths, a strange and lovely place which feels like an English seaside town but is completely landlocked.
With it's faded grandeur, arcade machines, tourists and many fish and chip shops all along one street, it's more like Scarborough or Blackpool than a Peaks village.
:: The "Plague Village" of Eyam. I can't recommend this place enough, with it's charming cottages, excellent volunteer-run local museum and rich, sad history. Well worth a visit.
And then we have Chatsworth House.
Oh my word.
It is a spectacular stately home, in all it's over-the-top, gold-windowed opulence. A part of me is deeply uncomfortable with the display of eye-watering wealth, of the contrast between the lives of those who have and the have-nots, especially after visiting Eyam the day before. But the other part of me shoved that socialist out of the way and ran around screaming "Pemberley!" "Mr Darcy's house!" and "LOOK AT THE PAINTED CEILING!"
I thought the children would be bored. They were fascinated (for about an hour, and then they wanted lunch).
My favourite part was watching these two people doing some kind of restoration work on the rug. I'm not sure exactly what they're doing, but it looks time consuming and skillful.
That's always the really interesting thing, isn't it, getting a glimpse into the inner workings of a stately home, of what goes on behind the closed doors.
You'll be relieved to know that in between all that visiting and day tripping there was swimming, bike rides, football, reading, crochet, eating, drinking and a fair amount of lazing around too. And it's so good to be home.