We like to do our traveling in the off-season. The weather is a little more cooperative because there are plenty of pretty days without the high temperatures and high humidity. Also, there aren’t quite as many people who travel that time of year which means the planes aren’t as crowded, and it’s easier to get a deal on hotel rooms. The past two years we have done walking vacations (here) in England, and they were so wonderful that we decided to do another one this year and selected the Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire as our location. Our good friends live in London, and so we usually fly over to London, spend the night at their place near Kensington Palace, and then the next day the four of us catch a train to the start of our walk. The first year, we hired a company to plan a route for us and to transfer our luggage. Last year my friend made all of the arrangements. Becky did such an excellent job that she planned our walk again this year.
We took a train to Chesterfield and then hired a cab to take us to the Devonshire Arms Inn in charming little Beeley, which is on the Chatsworth estate. We kept the inn as our base and did out and backs hikes each day. (Sorry the photos aren’t very sharp, but it was raining.)
Chatsworth is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been owned by the Cavendish family (that’s the duke’s surname) since 1549. The crazy thing is it is located in Derbyshire, but its dukedom was taken when the queen needed a duke title for this family. It’s complicated.
Like many grand English estates, they open some of their rooms for public viewing to help pay the bills. They have grand art and antiques and wonderful contemporary art.
The grounds are as large as Washington, DC with villages here and there. The houses in the villages all have similar architecture and stone work and are trimmed in the same paint colors.
There are numerous walking trails free and open to the public. The Brits are very generous with their farms and think nothing of having a public walking trail going right through a pasture with or without animals. Walkers are respectful of the animals, usually don’t litter, and they don’t forget to latch the gate. (Last year we walked through the estate of the man who owns the Dyson vacuum company.)
We arrived there in early afternoon on a Tuesday and did an out and back walk in a drizzling rain.
The next day we walked nine miles plus toured the mansion. It rained that day, too, but it didn’t stop us. I have no idea what this little shack was used for, but its rustic charm just spoke to me.
This is the grave of Kathleen Kennedy, a sister of President Kennedy. When her father was the US ambassador to England, she fell in love with one of the Cavendish sons and later married him. It was a huge deal because he was not a Catholic, and her mother, Rose Kennedy, disowned her. Four months after the marriage, Kathleen’s husband was killed in World War II. Later she fell in love with another Brit, and the two of them were killed in a plane crash. When President Kennedy visited England, he was able to go visit his sister’s grave.
The final day we took a small walk in the morning and then caught a train back to London. Mr. Right and I were leaving by plane the following morning to travel to Italy where we did a week-long bicycle trip and then visited friends and went to Rome. I’ll show you those photos later.
There were old churches and grave yards on the estate, and I loved that they had such old structures but still incorporated modern art into their surroundings. The current duke and duchess like modern art.
I suspect that the popularity of Downton Abbey has increased the interest in visiting these grand estates. Chatsworth is bigger than Highclere, but I am sure they both have a similar vibe.
Thanks so much for letting me take you on the tour. We will see you tomorrow.