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On a cottage holiday a visit to Bakewell is a must. The largest town within the Peak District National Park, the pretty village of Bakewell established itself rather unusually by way of a culinary accident. The famous Bakewell tart was originally a Bakewell pudding, when a local chef misread a strawberry tart recipe and folded the egg mixture on top of the jam instead of adding it to into the pastry. Nowadays the town thrives on sales of both, with various establishments claiming the original, but all manner of fine food and drink can be sampled in this delightful town, which hosts a superb, bustling outdoor market each Monday and a Farmer’s market on the last Saturday of every month, and has a good selection of local restaurants and pubs serving the finest local produce.
A slender steeple rises high above the town whilst its ancient, five-arched bridge is distinctive, and much painted by local artists. Bakewell makes an excellent base for a holiday cottage stay, with many places of interest, such as Chatsworth and Haddon Hall, just two of some thirty or so historic Halls and Country Houses in the Peak District, to be found nearby. Both of these historic homes may be reached by walking trails originating in Bakewell. The popular Monsal Trail, a managed walking and cycling track following a disused railway line along the river Wye valley, starts just outside the village.
Chatsworth House and Gardens is one of the country’s best loved and most visited historic homes, all the more so since the House was used as the setting for the 2005 Working Title film of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley. Set within the natural beauty of the Peak District National Park, this one thousand hectare estate, home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, has something for everyone. The stately home is filled with fine art collections, paintings, porcelain, tapestries, furniture and silver and also carries additional temporary exhibitions. Five miles of stunning gardens can be enjoyed by the visitor, with water gardens, formal displays, beautiful sculptures, rock gardens and a yew maze together with ample space for picnics and recreation. Families with younger children will want to spend time in the farmyard area, which has all the farm animals one would expect to find and which holds feeding and handling sessions, demonstrations, themed weeks such as Harvest, Nativity and New Life and educational talks. Children will also love the brilliant woodland adventure playground, where younger visitors will enjoy the water and sand play whilst older children test out their skills on rope bridges, towers, spiral slides and commando wire. There are four gift shops selling a variety of arts and crafts together with produce from the Chatsworth estate and the local area, plus a variety of eating outlets ranging from fine dining restaurants to snack kiosks. The larger Chatsworth estate, designed by Capability Brown and on the banks of the Derwent river, is free for the public to enjoy, together with Stand Wood, behind Chatsworth House, where many pleasant walks can be taken.
Two miles south of Bakewell, Haddon Hall is a beautiful twelfth century medieval manor house set in terraced Elizabethan gardens. It is widely held to be one of the best-preserved houses of its era and a tour of the Hall makes for a fascinating insight into early English life. Highlights include the great hall, medieval kitchens and fourteenth century chapel. Haddon has been used as a film set for many period dramas, with its fine architecture and meticulously preserved detail. Modern day visitors will find the usual amenities, in the form of a gift shop and restaurant; the latter has which particularly lovely views over the rolling green Derbyshire countryside.
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