I go to Derbyshire as often as I can. I drag the family up there too. They don’t complain much, luckily Derbyshire has some of the best walks and cycling tracks in the country. And while they’re cycling I’m chasing after the Darcys and Pemberley. But what I could never do and always wanted to was to just drive aimlessly down tiny country lanes, barely wide enough to open the car door without hitting the stone walls on either side, and just turn into whatever road takes my fancy and sneak up the hills overlooking Bakewell and Haddon. Also, I wanted to see and take hundreds of photos of Derbyshire in the summer. The other times I went it was either early spring when all the trees were bare (and there was ice on the tent!!) or it was pouring with rain, the only other time I went in the summer.
This time I was lucky. Very lucky. I had great company (I think it’s safe to say that the only time Mira and I didn’t giggle was when we were asleep). The weather was kind, the trees were not leafless, the country lanes were as delightful as I always hoped they would be and I came home with 647 photos on my camera and about as many on my Kindle. I thought I might share some with you, but don’t worry, not all 1200 of them 😉
The first stop was far from Derbyshire. In fact, we barely got on the motorway when we got off again at the next junction because it was impossible to resist the temptation of a sneak peek at Netherfield.
We didn’t ‘rest the horses at the ‘Dog and Partridge’ in Tutbury, tempting as it was.
In fact, we didn’t rest the horses anywhere because Sudbury was calling and we were on a tight schedule and a mission 🙂 We found all we could hope for and more. There was a cackling witch in the gallery and the photo shoot was a dream-come-true.
Day 2 was ‘Find the right Roach’ day. No, I’m not talking about creepy-crawlies, but the ‘How should I face your father if you trip and fall?’ rock. All we knew was that it’s part of The Roaches, a wind-carved outcrop of gritstone stretching for miles between Leek and Buxton. Despite its unpleasant associations, the name comes not from scurrying critters, but from Les Roches (French for ‘The Rocks’). We also knew that it had to be very accessible. No one would have taken filming equipment all the way up to some distant mountaintop, not without a helicopter. Even so, we couldn’t resist climbing to an outcrop that couldn’t have possibly been the right one, because it was up a crazy incline, not accessible at all (the road & my car were roughly there).
Still, later on, when I caught my breath and I could drive again, we found the rock a few miles up the road, more through luck than judgement 😉
Mr Darcy’s pond was another lucky find. There used to be signs to it but now all we had for guides were very vocal sheep.
The only reason why I went traipsing over the hills was that the house was closed. But we went back on the following day, as you do, to spend every daylight hour there, take gorgeous photos, absorb, admire, giggle, be rained on and then take some more very lucky shots.
On the following day I had my wish and got lost on purpose down tiny lanes.
We found well dressing displays in Youlgreave.
We discovered a village called Elton and also the delightfully unspoilt village of Middleton, which might as well have been Lambton.
We stopped at the majestic Kedleston with its opulent drawing room that might as well have been at Rosings.
And speaking of Rosings, I was over the moon to have made it to Belton House at last. I’ve never been there before and always wanted to, and what a gem it was! It might have been used as Rosings in the 1995 adaptation and was supposed to exude Lady Catherine’s forbidding grandeur, but in real life it’s a delightfully welcoming place, with a warm and friendly aura. I didn’t want to leave. I loved it there. Just as I could stare for ages at the famed façade of Lyme Park, I could have absorbed the beauty of Belton House for hours on end. Not only the blue bedroom and the ‘Make my excuses to Lady Catherine’ staircase, but also the delightful library and the drawing room with a ceiling so vibrant and fresh that it seemed to have been painted yesterday.
And the last stop on the road trip? In the small village of Teigh (that took some time in finding) at the Old Rectory, now a B&B. We came across the owner in the garden, and I tentatively approached her with ‘Sorry about the imposition, you must get this a lot…’ She would not let me finish. She just smiled and said ‘Not so much these days’, then took us into a rather famous drawing room and showed us photos taken at the time, while we were trying to imagine what it must be like to have Miss Bennet and Mr Darcy in your house and garden 🙂
I should have taken this road trip 20 years ago, but hey, better later than never. Thanks for stopping by to read the post and hope you enjoyed it.