I have to admit I’m a bit of a last minute getaway planner. I could spend forever finding somewhere to go or stay but when it’s two days before I’m meant to be leaving I have to make a decision and just book. I think I quite like the uncertainty and mystery, all is unveiled a few days before and the anticipation begins.
Getting far enough away that you feel you’re somewhere different but not too far that you spend more time in the car than on holiday is a bit of a tricky balance. I am a big fan of getting away somewhere in the UK and this time Derbyshire was to be the destination, more specifically Youlgreave. For those of you who read my blog from overseas, one of the most British occurrences happened before we’d even got in the car to leave. It turns out Youlgreave is not only spelled like that but also: Youlgrave and Youlegreave. Because why not.
Youlgreave (I’m sticking with that one) is a lovely little village near Bakewell and we stayed in a quaint holiday cottage. The village itself has three pubs, a butcher, a bakery and a corner shop and is a good base for walking/cycling to nearby towns. Reading the below post it might look like all we did was eat cake, drink tea and wander round towns. Well you’d be wrong, we ate lunch too.
Bakewell was somewhere I was really looking forward to going. I imagined they had Bakewell tarts hanging from the trees (we went near Christmas so I thought there might be some pastry themed lights), the town centre would have some sort of tart monument and pastries galore would be available everywhere. I was certainly not disappointed with the third of my imaginings but there was no tart adornment in the parks and no shrine that I could find. It turned out there were three types of Bakewell ‘tart’ from what I could gather. A Bakewell pudding is baked with custard, a Bakewell tart has flaked almonds on top and a Cherry Bakewell is the iced version that you’re probably most familiar with. Now you never have to wonder again, you’re welcome. Bakewell itself is a smallish town, with many tart shops, but with enough to entertain us for an afternoon.
Next up we went to Buxton, known for its mineral water, but I had no idea about its spa history and the huge stone buildings (Opera House above) that were all over the town. They have opened up some of the old spa and it now houses a few independent shops. Down a little road at the bottom of the town we discovered the Buxton Tap House where the (many) beers were flowing and the food looked great. I’m a sucker for a small town family-run Italian (everyone’s got one) so we had just had lunch round the corner but not to worry, we had some cracking beer. Buxton is not short of tea and coffee shops and it was hard to choose between them. The one we ended up (Everything’s Rosy) was full of magazines and blankets to while away an afternoon and their salted caramel parkin was delicious (above).
Next up we headed to Matlock; a town full of independent shops, pubs and places for tea. We found a great pub for a roast dinner and had a wander around the shops. While I’m on the subject of pubs, those that we went to seem to be doing it right: a great range of mostly local (and some bigger names) beers and ciders all served in somewhere nice to sit. The thing I loved the most was that a lot of the pubs offered quarters, halves and full pork pies with your choice of pickles and chutneys to go with it. So it’s raining, you dash into a pub, you’ve ordered a local beer and you take it along with your locally made pork pie and sit next to the fire. I’m telling you, there’s not much better. Matlock is next door to Matlock Bath so we wandered over there; it’s a lot longer than you think, longer still when it starts raining. Surprise surprise we had some tea and cake! This time we were in a 1940s themed café (Puddin’ on the Ritz) which made a great carrot cake.
It would be difficult to go to Derbyshire and not see or hear about Chatsworth House. We planned on going but when we saw the queues to get in we figured going to Chatsworth Farm Shop would suffice. I mean it wasn’t quite so grand, there were no massive paintings or expertly carved furniture, but it’s a great shop nonetheless and we picked up supplies for a proper Derbyshire breakfast. Pikelets (below) are like a flat crumpet, or a bubbly pancake, and lightly grilled so they are warm then covered with butter and damson jam they are brilliant.
You may be getting the impression that it rained a lot while we were in Derbyshire and you would be right. One day we packed a picnic, along with the essentials, to head out for a day’s exploring. With all our ‘essentials’ we were probably prepared enough to scale Everest but you know what they say about failing to prepare and who’ll be the one with the smug face when there’s a freak hurricane and you whip out your portable shelter and flare. Exactly. In this instance the only misfortune to befall us was a soggy sandwich but it was good to get out and explore in and around the village on foot.
On the one sunny day we had we headed to Ilam Park. No prizes for guessing that we arrived and headed to the nearest place dispensing tea and cake. Ilam Park was lovely and we picked up a map which helped us navigate our way over to Dovedale. Thank goodness for the map as I had forgotten my compass, crampons and emergency camping kit and with my sense of direction we could have ended up anywhere. Dovedale and its stepping stones were well worth the trip and we found lots of old tree stumps that had been stuffed full of coins; if any Derbyshire-ites know what that’s all about I’d love to find out!
To round off the getaway nicely we ended up at The Old Dog in Thorpe which had all the things I’d come to expect from pubs up there: many beers, snacks and roaring fires. This one served nuts and those devilishly addictive chilli puffs in paper bags (which were SO cute) and were playing the best music I’ve ever heard in a pub. We were gutted they didn’t do food on a Monday.
This holiday was all about relaxing, eating good food and doing a bit of exploring. We even adopted a holiday walking pace where we were so relaxed we were almost reclining while walking. Time to get away, look around some great British towns and sample as much cake as possible. Now where next…