To many of us the UK is London and we often forget all about the rest. This time we ditched the city of London and headed northwards towards the Peak District in Derbyshire.
We went there in the last bit of August. The countryside was very green despite a relatively warm summer. We miss the countryside so much especially after the long summer hot season that year after year hits our beautiful Islands. Getting away from the heat and breathing some cool air refreshes your mind and body.
We stayed in a very handsome English-style hotel by the river dating back to 1652 but which has been nicely updated for the 21st century in a village called Rowsley. This hotel has attracted a number of famous guests such as Keira Knightly, Judi Dench, Colin Firth and Eric Bana. We were very lucky to have been offered a last minute deal.
Most of these villages are small and all look beautifully with cottages and farms all around. Rowsley is quite central within the Peak District making it convenient to visit places of attraction or adventure. The village is less than 10 minutes drive to the more famous village of Bakewell – the village where the Bakewell Pudding was first invented (apparently by mistake). Bakewell is charming! The kid absolutely loved walking by River Wye as there were many quacking friends around – swans and all sorts of ducks! It was a really pleasant walk! Of course we did try the Bakewell Pudding and the Tart – we preferred the Pudding with some custard on top (yummy! 🙂 ).
The next day we went to Chatsworth. We spent at least six hours here and the kid loved every second. We visited the house – very luxurious and beautiful. But we did not go there for this. We went to enjoy the vast gardens, animal farmyard and playground. Our toddler loved running around on lush green grass and so did we. We bought some snacks from one of the coffee shops within the premises and we did a mini picnic out of it on the grass. Simple things but super enjoyable especially when the weather is nice. We then went to the farmyard – very tidy and well kept. There are exhibitions every thirty minutes (or less) – they were milking a goat, explaining how the sheep are groomed etc. We all touched the sheep – it does feel like a soft blanket! There were horses, ponies, pigs, cows, guinea pigs, sheep, chicks… Our boy loved running after the chickens which were running around freely. Lastly we went to the playground which attracts children of all ages. The playground had sand and water pumps for the children to play with. Some children were wearing wellies! Our toddler loved rolling on the floor covered in pieces of natural wood.
The next day we went to Hassop to try our luck and cycle parts of the Monsal Trail. It was our first time ever on a bicycle with our toddler. We had no idea whether this is going to work out at all. So we went to Hassop Station all geared up to hire two adult bikes, one of them with a child seat at the back. Both of us are amateur bike riders so we were a bit scared that we might fall with the kid and hurt him. But as soon as you balance on the bike you no longer realise that you are carrying a kid. To our surprise, the kid just loved this new experience. He just kept saying “More, more!” Along the trail we stopped a number of times either to go down to the fields near the cows or sheep or just on a bench for a break. We had the fright of our lives when while we were posing for a family photo with the cows in the backdrop, all of a sudden one of the cows got up making its way towards us and all other cows in the herd decided to follow. Thankfully they were too lazy and just made a couple of steps forward as if to warn us not to get any closer. Although our son realised that it can get dangerous if the cows moved closer, he felt thrilled by being so close to the cows in the middle of a field and not like when he saw cows in an enclosed area of a farmyard or a zoo.
Driving around the Peak District was very enjoyable as most of the roads are very scenic and we could keep our toddler busy just by spotting the cows, sheep and tractors while driving by the fields. We drove through a number of villages like Bakewell, Buxton, Matlock, Matlock Bath and Beeley all of which looked pretty.
There are other attractions suitable for kids in the Peak District but which unfortunately we did not have the time to visit like: Gulliver’s Kingdom in Matlock Bath, the Heights of Abraham, Matlock Farm Park and the Alton Towers Resort in Staffordshire.
What we liked best:
The countryside – it’s like driving through one big garden.
Where did we stay:
The Peacock at Rowsley – Rowsley is a village from where you can easily access most of the attractions of the district. It was not more than 20 mins drive to everywhere we’ve been: Bakewell, Chatsworth, Hassop station.
How did we get there:
We flew to Liverpool and came back from Birmingham. However there are other airports to be considered like Manchester, Leeds and East Midlands. You can check all connections through skyscanner.
How did we go around:
We rented a car which we picked up from Liverpool airport and we drove around. We found this to be very convenient with a toddler.
Food we will remember:
Definitely the traditional Bakewell pudding right from where it originated, the beef and ale pie, and a traditional English Sunday roast from an English pub!
Although it was a very enjoyable short break we would not recommend it if you are looking for a budget holiday. The cost of renting a car, accommodation and food prices in restaurants added up. Of course, there might be cheaper options for what we went for but this cannot be regarded as a cheap destination.
Peak District 3-Day itinerary:
Day 1 – Arrived at Liverpool airport. Rented a car and drove off to Rowsley where our accommodation was situated.
Ate and rested a bit at the accommodation. Discovered its beautiful garden/outdoor. Drove to Bakewell (8 mins by car from Rowsley). Walked by the riverside – scenic, relaxing and lots of ducks around. Perfect for the kid.
Ate a steak and ale pie from the Peacock pub – simply delicious.
Day 2 – After breakfast, we drove off to Chatsworth House (around 15 minutes by car from Rowsley).
Discovered the luxurious house and gardens in the morning.
Had small lunch on the grass – like a small picnic.
Took the scenic tractor ride which goes round the vast gardens.
Went to the farm and playground.
Left at around 3:30PM and went for afternoon tea in Matlock. Unfortunately, we arrived late so place was empty. (There is a nearby village called Beeley near Chatsworth, so might as well go there for afternoon tea). Kid was sleeping so it was still great to have some quiet time.
Drove around Matlock and Matlock Bath. Few things to explore here as well however we did not have time.
Drove back to Rowsley and ate at the Grouse & Claret.
Day 3 – After breakfast, we went to Hassop Station and rented two adult bikes one of which was equipped with a child seat.
Cycled parts of the Monsal Trail (Hassop Station is actually one of the stops of this famous trail).
Took some photos with a herd of cows 🙂
Ate at Hassop Station (as this place has got a large bookshop and a restaurant apart from the bike rental service).
Drove to Bakewell to eat the famous Bakewell pudding. Yummy!