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Nature and history on a Chatsworth Walk in The Peak District

I’m not a walker. In fact I’m ashamed to say I pretty much drive everywhere.

Naughty Hayley.

Knowing this about myself and feeling constant guilt for A. helping to destroy the environment and B. not making the most of the great British outdoors, I’ve recently made a conscious effort to get out and about more on foot.

When I announced this spare-of-the-moment vow to my mum (who loves walking might I add), her eyes instantly lit up and 10 minutes later we were browsing through her unnecessarily large pile of walking books.

The next thing I know we’ve arranged to stay at her friend’s house in Sheffield near the Peak District, and scheduled in a whole lot of walking to do. Time to dust off those walking shoes.

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My mum is a veteran when it comes to strolling around the wonderful vistas of the Peak District. Throwing routes and paths at me left, right and centre I felt bewildered with the choices. I wanted a challenging yet not too demanding walk (I’m not Bear Grylls yet!) offering some great views of the countryside and a few opportunities to discover quaint local villages and fascinating historic buildings.

As I was reeling off my very specific list of things I wanted to get out of this walk, my mum came across a footpath around the Chatsworth Estate grounds in one of her many, many books.

A 6-mile circular walk with lots of countryside, a few villages here and there, and of course the chance to marvel at the magnificent Chatsworth House at the end – perfect!

The day finally arrived and what a scorcher it was! I’ve been told the sun is rare is The Peak District, so I was feeling particularly pleased with myself as I slapped on the factor 15! Walking and a tan – excellent stuff.

Parking up at the Calton Lees Car Park, just a little after the main Chatsworth House entrance, we set off on our little walking adventure in the beautiful Peak District countryside.

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Now, I’m not going to relay step by step how to do this walk yourself, because honestly I don’t trust myself not to lead you astray. I will however tell you what wonderful things we saw along the way and provide a link to a more reliable source full of the information you need to give this walk a go yourself. Please stick around until end of this post for the all-important link.

Back to the walk…

As a fan of all God’s creatures including farm animals, I was especially pleased the walk began in a field of friendly sheep. Little lambs and their watchful mums leaped about the field around us, and even kindly posed for a pic or two.

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Next we strolled through Beeley Village, who happened to be holding the cutest garden competition I’d ever seen. It looked like the whole community was getting involved with Beeley in Bloom and we loved walking past all the wonderful entries, waving politely at the locals as we went.

After a few wrong turns – we blame the gardens for distracting us – we made our way along Beeley Brook following a steep hill into a dense forestry area. This was probably the most taxing part of the walk and at one point I wondered if the hill would never end. Needless to say, when we finally reached the top we stopped for a much needed cuppa and piece of cake.

Fully refuelled we battled on, trekking out in the open countryside now. After 5 minutes or so, we reached the ultimate viewing hotspot of the walk. Suddenly the steep incline we’d just endured seemed completely worth it. Walking along the hilltop, we could see miles and miles of the beautiful Peak District countryside sat beneath fluffy clouds and blue sky. Reaching for my camera, I instantly thought to myself… this is a panoramic moment. Just look at those hills…

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Enjoying every last moment of the breathtaking rural views before us, we walked on wondering what wonderful things we’d see next.

Before long we’d reached the 19th century Swiss Cottage – a charming little house set in front of a large pond – originally built for the Chatsworth Estate’s gamekeeper. Today it serves as a lovely little holiday cottage.

Next on the list was Emperor’s Lake – the main source of water for Chatsworth’s famous Emperor fountain – followed by the Hunting Tower, which stands 400 feet above Chatsworth House on the edge of Stand Wood. Rumour has it Kate and Wills stayed there once on a short break too.

Making our way back down towards Chatsworth House, we were able to get up close to the Derbyshire stately house where lots of locals and visitors were making the most of the sunshine, exploring the grounds and enjoying picnics. Crossing the bridge past Queen Mary’s Bower – the place where the Queen of Scots was captured and held prisoner in late 16th century – we followed the River Derwent back down to where it all began a few hours ago.

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Appreciating the spectacular views of Chatsworth House, we walked the final leg of our route taking in our picturesque surroundings and watching people as they jumped into the inviting river – the perfect end to a lovely walk in the Peak District 🙂

As promised, you can find all the details of this 6-mile walk right here. Why not give it ago yourself? Or tell me about another walk you recommend I give ago!

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