My partner spent this summer renovating a camper van, which led to us booking a last minute trip to a campsite we know of in Bakewell (Derbyshire). We took two of our children with us and made it a mid-week break to take advantage of them still being on their main summer holiday from school. We've all camped before, both in tents and other camper vans, but this time was that little bit more special as our eldest daughter is sixteen so not likely to come on many holidays with us now - and our lovely little five year old was incredibly excited as she had watched the van take shape as her dad worked on it and couldn't wait to sleep in it!
We arrived at lunchtime and set everything up, this is the downside of camping for me as it's such hard work to get everything in it's place before you even start your holiday! Once the awning had been erected I wandered off to take our daughter to the onsite play area and left my partner to the logistics of fitting a few days worth of stuff into a relatively small space! As we hadn't used the cooker before we decided to try it out with a few sausages; after these were cooked and eaten we set off on a walk to the beautiful little village of Ashford in the Water, located around a twenty minute walk from the campsite.
Here we sat for a couple of hours in the beer garden of one of the two village pubs after having a wander around the churchyard of The Holy Trinity Parish Church and taking in the tranquility of the beautifully cared for area. After playing our game of 'spot the oldest grave stone' (I caught one dating back to 1805) we decided refreshments were in order and toddled off back to the pub. We decided on the Ashford Arms due to the fact that there's a large grassy area at the back where our youngest could play while we soaked up the last of the evening sun. We made our plans for the following day while enjoying a couple of cheeky drinks, with me and my five year old looking forward to visiting Chatsworth House while my partner and our sixteen year old were going to go go-karting in nearby Buxton.
Walking back to the campsite we watched the sheep in the fields, taking a little time to wander along the public footpath in order for our youngest daughter to get as close to these (pretty big!) animals as she dared. The walk back seemed much longer than it had getting there, whether this was due to the fact that it was more uphill or because of the alcohol we had imbibed in the pub! I was glad to get back to the van and find out where everything was because I hadn't exactly made myself useful while all the bits and pieces were being fitted and arranged in the living area!
Our first night was amazing, I'm always shocked at how well I sleep when we're camping and this was no exception. When I finally roused myself (shockingly at around 10am!) I took the kids to the shower block and we got ready for our day out. My partner dropped Hollie and I off at Chatsworth House and we set about absorbing some history in this beautiful stately home.
Chatsworth House is a beautiful place and well worth a visit; a wonderful house which was originally built in the 16th century and has been added to and altered in the intervening centuries to create the humongous and stunning building you can see today. It's not the cheapest attraction in the area with an adult and child's ticket having a combined price of around £34, but it's well worth the money in my opinion - there are various pricing options available depending on what you want to see during your visit, we opted to see the house and gardens as the weather wasn't looking particularly promising so I didn't want to risk booking for the farmyard and having to disappoint my daughter if it rained.
We spent around an hour in the house itself before popping outside for ice creams and then walking around the gardens. My daughter really wanted to go into the maze so we followed the (pretty rubbish!) signs and eventually found it, where it was located just about as far away from the house as possible! The beauty of the Chatsworth gardens is that there's something to see at every turn - the old tree which was rigged up centuries ago to squirt water creating a wonderful water feature, ponds, rolling hills, a huge amount of beautiful statues and the pièce de résistance, the cascade which is a huge water feature allowing water to flow down a large set of stone steps. Everything is stunning when viewed from a distance and the possibilities for photographs are endless; I found some of the areas too large to really be enjoyed up close (such as the cascade for example) and it's far better to turn in a circle occasionally as you're walking to take in the views.
When we were exhausted I called my partner for our lift and a few minutes later the van was spotted trundling into the car park and we started our journey back to the campsite. It turned out they couldn't find the go-karting company so had had a little walk around Buxton instead, and after acting chauffeur for me and Hollie they decided to dump us at the campsite and take a stroll into Bakewell to pick up a few goodies to munch on that night. When we were all back on the campsite we had an impromptu BBQ to use up the last of the frozen food we'd bought and enjoy the tail end of a not particularly warm evening. To counter the chill I took several trips to the onsite pub for medicinal brandies, happy to discover I was able to take my drinks back to the van and return the glass on my next visit - I was back and forth so many times it would have made sense to ask for a half pint of brandy and measure it out myself!
The next morning we had that deflated 'going home' feeling so decided we'd spend a couple of hours in Bakewell village after packing up the van and saying goodbye to Greenhills Holiday Park. Bakewell centre is a beautiful, if small, place to walk around - we all had spending money to burn so split up, our five year old found it extremely comical when we kept catching sight of her big sister or dad in one of the shops! After having our fill of the shops, and buying souvenirs and gifts for our two children who stayed behind, we ate delicious fish and chips from a wonderful chippy while watching the geese and carp fighting (I swear!) over chips and bread that were being tossed into the river. I was a good tourist and heeded the 'no feeding the fish' signs (actually I just didn't want to share my chips!) but there were plenty of people there to satisfy my urge for Canadian Geese fighting amongst themselves. The river in Bakewell is beautiful, calm enough to relax you but not so tranquil that you'll start feeling bored - the few benches dotted around are vacated pretty quickly as most people take the same approach as we did and wander around the shops in bursts, returning to the river for a while when the hustle and bustle gets too much.
As the heavens opened we headed back to the van and started the drive home. I really enjoyed our break in Bakewell and hope to return very soon - this area really does have something for everyone and is such a beautiful setting that I forgot my longing for a foreign holiday and really learned to appreciate our wonderful country.