>Castleton and Hardwick Hall

>I drove the 31 miles from my house to Castleton in the Hope Valley, Derbyshire, and got there just after noon. The day had started overcast, but the further west I travelled, the brighter it got, and by the time I got to my destination, it was glorious again.

It then took me 20 minutes or more to find somewhere to park. I’d circled the village 3 times and was on my way to Ladybower when I spotted a local farm taking advantage of an empty field. They were only charging £3 for the whole day, which was a bit steep for me just staying half an hour (har, har), but better than anywhere else. Good for the farmer and his family, though. You can’t blame them for diversifying and they were really friendly.

Castleton is where much of One Last Breath by Stephen Booth is set, and it was nice to see again the many places he refers to. I even think I spotted the cave rescue worker’s tiny cottage squeezed into a tiny gap.

So much for half an hour. I spent a good 2 hours wandering the streets of Castleton in the sunshine, taking pictures, being a tourist. There’s actually quite a lot of Blue John for sale in various guises and I decided against a rash purchase. I’m going to have a think, wait for the prize money cheque to clear, and then go back and get something really nice so I can say “that’s my prize money purchase” for some of it. I don’t think I want jewellery, unless it’s a ring, and I know I don’t just want a lump of rock that will gather dust and end up in the bin when I declutter. There are some lovely little bowls, but they are very, very expensive, and there are trinket boxes and pill boxes, and lots of polished pieces. I’ll have to think very carefully and go back.

Back at the farm I decided not to go to Ladybower this time. I can go there any time and it will always be free, but it’s not every weekend the National Trust has a free weekend. So I had a look at the animals, chatted with the lady farmer, mooched around the farm shop, and bought half a dozen freshly laid free range eggs (for less than I usually pay at the supermarket) and some home made strawberry jam, as both are on my shopping list for next week. Then I sat in my car with the windows down, gazing at the view, munching on my picnic, scribbling away with a pencil.

Here are some Castleton pictures. This is one view of the main street with the hills behind:

I’d say this is a typical cottage, but it isn’t. It’s actually quite big and not tucked away up a narrow driveway:

This is the beginning of the Limestone Way – I didn’t walk this on this occasion:

How chilled is this rabbit?

My view from the car while I had lunch:

More pictures of Castleton can be found here – although I’ve only uploaded 10 altogether.

Back in the car I drove another 31 miles across the wild and barren Peak District National Park. Traffic was quite heavy in places, but it was nice to see what all the fuss was about on the way – there were a couple of really nice rock formations and both had dedicated parking areas. Next time I’m in the Peak District for a mooch, I may stop off at one of these and go exploring.

I drove back through Hope and then through Hathersage, both of which are also featured in the Booth book I just finished. I didn’t stop, though, as I wanted to get to Hardwick Hall in time for it to not be a rush. I’ve always wanted to visit this property as you can see it from the M1 at around J29.

There’s no point in me joining the National Trust as we only have about 3 properties within driving distance so I’d never get my money’s worth unless I went to the same place over and over. This was another reason why it was good to take advantage of their free offer, although I didn’t realise until I got there that some places were excluded from the deal – fortunately Hardwick Hall wasn’t one of them.

I got there in good enough time for a leisurely stroll around the grounds in the late afternoon sunshine and the house wasn’t as packed as I thought it might be. This meant the volunteers were able to give visitors a little more time. I was about halfway around when I realised people weren’t just taking pictures, but also using flash. I thought that had always been discouraged, but no-one was complaining, so out came my camera too and I set it to candlelight. The house is very dark on the inside and I was quite pleased with the results.

Here is the familiar facade of Hardwick Hall:

As soon as I realised flash photography was allowed, I snapped this life-sized portrait of Queen Elizabeth I. I’m quite pleased with the way the colours have come out:

There are quite a few beds like this one, but this was my favourite:

Tapestries line the house on almost every available inch of wall space. Here is the detail from just one. Can you see the trees to the left and the houses to the right?

Here is Hardwick Old Hall. I think I much prefer this building:

There are more pictures from Hardwick Hall here, but again I’ve only uploaded 10 altogether.

Once again in the shop I was very reserved and only bought a cook book that contains over 400 cookie and biscuit recipes as I have yet to master cookie dough.

I had another wander in the grounds, and then headed the 37 miles home.

I got in at 6:10pm and was greeted with a text from a friend who lives on the other side of Leeds. He was coming over to one of my locals and did I fancy meeting him and the gang there? I’d just put my tea in the oven (lamb, baby new potatoes, green beans with sliced mushrooms, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, mint sauce) and there was no way I’d make it by 7pm. I did, however, make it by 8pm in time for the band’s 2nd set. Before I went out I set the DVD player to record Dancing on Ice and I got back home just after the final skate off for the evening.

Today has been quite busy despite being at home. First thing, I had to proof the local UK newsletter and get that sent back to the designer (we’re having a one-off this month), then I had to finalise the magazine and get the okay back to that designer. Then I sorted out some missing tickets for the weekend (we’re to pick them up on the door). Then I started to sift through the photographs from yesterday. Meanwhile, the corrected pdfs came through for the newsletter and I signed that off too. I’ve also done some freelance work and caught up on a bit of reading (for work).

Phew! Back to work tomorrow for a rest, methinks.

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5 thoughts on “>Castleton and Hardwick Hall

  1. >I'll be going back very soon to get my Blue John. Might also visit the castle or one of the show caves if I'm feeling flush, or one of the rock formations if I'm not.Hardwick Hall is very nice. Just not sure it's worth £9.50 as some of the rooms are completely empty.

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  2. >Hi DianeGlad you had such a good day. We love Stephen Booth and have all his books, haven't been to Castleton for years. Twiglet has never been. Did you see Hardwick Hall on Matercrafts last week, it looks a very interesting place. I know what you mean about joining NT, the only place really close to us is Nostell Priory. As I used to work there I know it well 🙂 like you we'd rather just pay to park and have a wander round the parkland. 4 year olds and stately home interiors aren't really a good mix :)twiggy x

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  3. >Nostell is my closest one too. I don't think stately homes and very young children don't mix anyway. They can't possibly appreciate what they're seeing until they get projects from school. I DO want to go to the steam fair at Nostell, though, and kids must love that.I'd far rather park up for FREE and go for a wander. You can do that at Hardwick, I think – unless they just weren't bothering due to the free weekend. But I don't object to paying so long as they don't rip you off.

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