24 September 2012


The rain that began mid-afternoon yesterday continues to patter on the flat roof above our study. Why didn't I light the garden bonfire before this drenching, before greyness covered the city and the sodden streets  were made shiny with wetness? 

I could have struck the match on Saturday when the weather was gorgeous and the prunings and clippings and sycamore branches were almost bone dry... but instead I was out walking again having declined the opportunity to go to Leeds with Shirley for a shopping expedition with Princess Frances - our darling daughter. To me shopping expeditions are on a par with visiting the dentist and Maths lessons of yore.

When thinking of a new walk, hidden cogs whirr in my brain and soon I focus on a particular area before planning a route with the assistance of Ordnance Survey's "Get A Map". Then I'm off. Of course, I have been to the Chatsworth Estate many  times before but it is a huge area of land and it's only twenty minutes from our hovel so that's where I decided to go on Saturday.

I parked in the village of Baslow - home to England's former cricket captain Michael Vaughan - and set off southwards towards Chatsworth House. Apart from the ostentatious stately home built for the Dukes of Devonshire, the estate contains a surprising number of cottages and farms. There are streams and lakes, follies and fountains, formal and informal gardens, woods, sheep pastures and even a nine hole golf course and a cricket ground - 35,000 acres in total.

As it was a sunny Saturday, there were many cars parked up by the grand house and the huge former stable block. Parking costs £3 per vehicle and there must have been a thousand cars there Not bad work if you can get it! Of course, the majority of visitors would have been paying to go inside the stately home and its gardens or scoffing posh nosh in the stable block or wasting money in the gift shops but I was going up into the woods and out into the countryside. I climbed four hundred feet to Bess of Hardwick's sixteenth century hunting tower and then passed The Emperor Lake which feeds the famous Emperor Fountain before reaching The Swiss Lake.

Out of the woods and into the sheep country then back down to Dobb Edge and along to The Jubilee Stone and the grand gatehouses by the ornate north entrance that is closed to visitors. I followed the path back to Plantation House and the kissing gate that leads back to Baslow. Another really lovely three hour walk but now the huge bonfire pile is saturated. Shirley just phoned to say there's a power cut at her health centre and she may need me to bring her a big jumper as the heating has been off for an hour now. Such an inconvenience rarely happens these days. For your interest, snaps from Saturday's walk:-
The kissing gate - path from Baslow
Chatsworth cricket ground
Just a few of the cars parked by the big house
The hunting tower - 16th century
Swiss Cottage by The Swiss Lake 
Forgotten sheep track east of Chatsworth
Inscription on The Jubilee Rock - commemorating
Queen' Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887
Chatsworth northern gates and gatehouses


  1. My, you do get around. If it were me, I'd want to spend an hour soaking my feet, legs, and tushy in a nice hot epsom-salts bath afterward.

    You are indefatigable.

  2. SENATOR BRAGUE Tushy?...In England we don't use that word but I know it means buttocks. My tushy looks after itself thank you very much. I like to keep up the habit of walking as it's my only form of exercise. I figure that each cigarette shortens someone's life but each mile I walk lengthens mine...but only on fair weather days. We are lucky to have such a big network of ancient paths in England. I can't see American farmers being too happy about having ramblers hiking across their farms, ranches and (in Georgia) slave plantations.

  3. I remember Chatsworth as a kid. I was never interested in a dusty old house, however impressive, I was fascinated by the gardens, the plants and flowers and a surprise around every corner.

  4. In my former life I lived at chatsworth...I adore the place

  5. HIPPO I find something quite offensive about massive stately homes - when you think about where the money came from to build and furnish them but as you suggest Chatsworth isn't just about the big house.
    EARL GRAY You're pulling my leg! It's not the EARL of Devonshire - it's the DUKE - unless of course they let you stay in the abandoned grotto deep in the woods.

  6. We took some American family visitors there many years ago, and as lovely as the visit was,I had mixed feelings all day....the socialist part of my brain was angry that one family 'owned' so much and I was paying money to visit, and the other half of me imagined how wonderful it would be to live somewhere so fabulous as Duchess Libby....it is a beautiful place........ps do we have to curtsey to John Gray now?

  7. LIBBY You can curtsey but I'm a gentleman so I shall bow to his earlship. I bet your American buddies loved Chatsworth - "Oh gee Libby! It's so cool, kinda like South Fork but older. Is there a McDonalds? Can we get to meet The Duke? His real name's John Wayne y'all know and he's from Iowa too!"

  8. Sir pud,

    I have it on very good authority that Earl Gray would have been his Grace, the Duke of Devonshire had not his Nanny carelessly left him as a babe in his Silver Cross pram among the aspidistras in the garden while she enjoyed her assignation with the head gardener, a notorious swine, allowing the future Duke to be stolen by Welsh travellers...

  9. HIPPO Thank you for the inside information. Were you perchance related to said head gardener? And did he make a "connection" with said nanny?

  10. By the way, did you know that "Kick" Kennedy (sister of JFK and Bobby) is buried at Chatsworth, having been married to one of the Dukes of Devonshire? I didn't - until yesterday. It's explained in a book I've just read and can highly recommend for those of you interested in early 20th century South Yorkshire - Black Diamonds , about the history of Wentworth Woodhouse (which I also recommend visiting).
    I love this book, maybe as I spent most of my childhood walking round Wentworth, but it's a fascinating insight into SY industry and the role of the Earls and such like who built these huge homes ... not all bad chaps, apparently!

  11. Calm down Brian - you're getting too excited! Think of your blood pressure!...I'll take your advice and check out Wentworth Woodhouse grounds before long - but it'll have to be a nice day unlike the current meteorological misery of September 25th...

  12. My excitement knows no bounds on this subject - as you will soon see on an upcoming post on my blog, once I've had a sit down.
    Watch this space, as they say ....
    Seriously, reading the book (two books in a year, what a success!), I'd been thinking about posting on it over the last two weeks and now the decision has been taken...

  13. You Yorkshire dudes have to trap a woman to get her to kiss you?

  14. Two weeks later, inspired by the book I've been reading, and loving local history - and pushed over the top by yourself and Mr Fox's posts on walking, I have finally got round to posting my infamous Wentworth walk!
    Feel free to try it ;)


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