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THE EAST MIDLANDS - where to
go what to do
where to eat
What we can say is that if you are in the area from the Wash to the Staffordshire border and from Sheffield down to Northamptonshire then you are in the East Midlands.
Where to start our tour, that can be a problem, but lets choose Derbyshire a county of low flat valleys and grandiose, brooding peaks. And what better place to begin than in the area of that “palace in the peak” the area round CHATSWORTH HOUSE.
Getting to Chatsworth House
Situated north of Rowsley, which is some 4 miles north of Matlock on the A6, Chatsworth is bisected by the B6012. It is so well sign posted from Buxton and Bakewell you should find it easily. Junction 28 or 29 on the M.1. is also sign posted for Chatsworth.While thousands visit Chatsworth each year very few seem to be aware that the early Dukes of Devonshire were some of the more far sighted of the English nobility, opening up the land for people to visit and wander through as early as the 1700’s.
Parking for visitors is well thought out, with substantial parking at the garden centre and at the Calton Leys car park, close to the garden centre.
The house itself is magnificent, housing one of the finest private art collections in the world within its 26 rooms. There are also restaurants serving local food and recently the farm shop selling superb fresh produce of the highest quality has gained in popularity.
The gardens set amidst the high overlooking moors are particularly interesting
at any time of the year. The Emperor fountain, the tallest gravity fed
fountain in the world, must be seen.
Apparently the fountain was constructed to celebrate a visit by the last Tzar of Russia, unfortunately the Tzar never made the visit.
The white Peak area of Derbyshire
So called because it is geologically a limestone and chalk region with brooks and streams that disappear into the ground and are often only apparent as water courses in very wet weather. The erosion by water has given rise to some spectacular caverns and pot holes. Dry dales abound as well as dales with lovely trout streams, Lathkill dale and Dovedale are popular tourist attractions but visit them midweek or in the winter and you see totally different vistas. The wildlife becomes more evident at this time with fewer visitors about.
The jewel like kingfisher, a rare sight seen on the river Lathkill, Lathkilldale.
The Dark Peak area of Derbyshire
This area of the peak is geologically millstone grit, the altitude is higher and the countryside more barren than the warmer dales of the white peak. It comprises the upland moors of Kinder Scout and Bleaklow. A walk on Bleaklow in a brooding drizzle gives some idea of how it got its name, it is bleak.
Situated midway between the white peak and the dark peak areas of Derbyshire, Castleton is at the centre of the peak national park. It lies on the A625 only 16 miles from Sheffield and within easy reach of the M1 and M6 motorway. The best time to visit is midweek away from the weekend visitor throngs.
At christmas it is worth visiting to see the christmas lights, when all the shops stay open late and the pubs serve good warming food and drink.
The castle at Castleton was built by the son of William the Conqueror, William Peveril, to guard the area. It is an extremely beautiful spot with breath taking views over the countryside. Today the castle is maintained by English Heritage and is open all year except for 24th and 26th December.
St Edmunds Church
Close to the castle and near the road lies St. Edmunds church with a Norman arch dated at over 800yrs old. The church's history is linked with that of the castle and was known as "The Church of Peak Castle". More detailed information can be found at the church.
The caves and caverns at Castleton
The area around Castleton is limestone overlain with millstone grit. Continual water seepage over the millenia has created some spectacular caverns and the only locality in the world of naturally mined 'Blue John Stone'.
This stone is a type of Fluorite or Fluorspar, a mineral composed of calcium fluoride. It is a crystalline variety and often occurs with impurities giving it a yellow, brown, green or red/rose colour.
The caverns and the Blue John Stone were known to the Romans who also mined lead and silver in the area. The main caverns are, Treak Cliff Cavern, Blue John Cavern and Speedwell Cavern, all are accesible to the public for a small charge.
The Treak Cliff Cavern is toured in the dry and is well lit.
It houses some of Britains best stalactite and stalagmite formations. It
is also mined for Blue John Stone, which began in 1750 and half a tonne
is still mined every year.
An example of Blue John Stone
In the Blue John Cavern, mined 2000 years ago by the Romans, some of the largest pieces of Blue John have been found. These large pieces are known as bull beef because of the red colour of the stone as oppossed to the general blue colour of the smaller stone. It was from a bull beef piece that the 'Ormolu Table' was fashioned. The table is held in the Ollerenshaw Collection of Blue John. Nearby Chatsworth House also has magnificent pieces of Blue John.
Speedwell Cavern is navigated by boat through a 200 yr old lead working. This canal took 11yrs to construct. There are a range of interesting features as well as a "bottomless pit". It is said that this lake had 40,000 tons of waste rock poured into it without any effect on the level of the lake!
Matlock and Matlock Bath
spa town of Matlock and Matlock Bath were known to the Romans. There are
'petryfying' wells and at one time the local swimming bath was heated from
underground thermal springs which still exist. Today the bath is a home
to koi carp and worth a visit.
The town of Matlock and Matlock Bath have special attractions. At Matlock Bath, the 750-ft Heights of Abraham can be reached by cable car, for excellent views over the countryside, while the cliffs themselves prove irresistable to rock climbers.
The Victoria Tower shown, is one of the landmark sights at Matlock Bath.
The area is well served by road and rail and easily accessible from the M.1. motorway.
As well as Chatsworth House, just up the road, Hardwick Hall, the home of the legendary 'Bess of Hardwick' is within reach and visible travelling on the M.1. The reason there is so much glass in Hardwick Hall is that despite it being new and fashionable for the time to include it in new buildings it was still very expensive. As such it was a measure of 'Bess's' wealth.
Places to eat
NOTE :- None of the establishments mentioned have
paid or offered any inducement to be included.
They have been personally visited and their service assessed. Removal from these pages does
not imply any reduction in service or otherwise. Note that phone numbers may have changed.
Derbyshire places to eat
For Nottinghamshire places to eat click here.
In Derbyshire try the following pubs / hotels for lunch or dinner. We shall be including phone numbers and other details about the establishments in due course.
The Spanker Inn at Heage, we rate this as No.1 for quality and
value and overall ambience. An excellent
choice for the explorer or casual day visitor. Booking recommended
The New Matlock Bath Hotel, at Matlock, for lunches and dinners if you fancy a hotel, good value.
The East Lodge Hotel at Rowsley, near Chatsworth, very good value and classy surroundings.
The Peacock Inn, again at Rowsley. Excellent service, superb
food and quality at the top of the tree.
Great for that special occasion. You get what you pay for.
Also great fishing on the river Wye if you care to stay.
The Rennaisance Hotel, at junction 28 of the M1 - try it for Sunday Lunch or as a base for exploring Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
Bulls Head Youlgreave Derbys. in the white peak tel:-0629 636307, 4 bedrooms, serves bed and breakfast, bar meals Monday to Saturday during lunch and evening. Quite nice.
Gate Inn Stanton Derbys. not to be confused with Stanton by Dale. Excellent menu, very extensive and well prepared. Phone for directions 0283 216818
Newdigate Arms Hill Road East West Hallam Derbys. An Ansells pub serving good honest food, big steaks and real draught Bass ale, worth a visit.
The Barley Mow Langar Lane Wingerworth Chesterfield, tel:- 0246 273129 Very traditional pub, oak beams etc, cask conditioned ales and excellent home made food. Recommended.
Nottinghamshire Places to eat
Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem Brewhouse yard Nottingham, said to be the oldest pub in the country, serves Kimberley real ales and bar meals. Worth a visit for an experience.
Griffins Head Moor Road Papplewick, good quality pub in a nice location. The village and surrounding area deserves a closer look. Very close to other good pubs within walking distance. Ideal for visiting Sherwood Forest.
Hole in the wall Underwood Notts
The Roebuck Inn Wollaton Notts
Pages under continual revision
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