This is a favourite walk of ours at any time of year. It takes around two hours and there are many beautiful places to stop along the way for a picnic, to admire the views and watch the wildlife. On this occasion we parked in the quirky village of Edensor, where every house is built in a different architectural style and where most importantly, there is a superb tea room serving delicious paninis, sandwiches and superb cakes. Just the sort of thing to fortify oneself before a walk!
Having eaten our fill sitting outside in the sunshine, we walked across the road onto the track leading to Chatsworth House. In spite of its many visitors, the estate never feels crowded and the recently sandblasted and gilded House shone out in the sunshine as we crossed the river and took the path to Stand Woods. I should mention here that there are several possibilities to buy food at Chatsworth ranging from a pasty from the picnic shop to a full lunch in the Carriage House Restaurant.
Our route took us past the Adventure Playground and Farmyard up into the woods where we decided to take the steeper path via the dell where the sun’s rays shining through the new foliage onto the gushing stream and moss covered rocks produced a magical effect.
After that it was literally onwards and upwards as we climbed the many steps up to the Hunting Tower. For anyone who hates steps of any sort, there is a much gentler path which zigzags up the hill and meets the steep path at the Hunting Tower. The views over the estate towards Baslow were outstanding and provided a good excuse to get our breath back. It was so clear that we could see Bretton Edge above Eyam.
The path carries on past the tower and we noticed that it is now possible to walk all round the Emperor Lake, an eight-acre (32,000 m²) lake, dug on the moors 350 feet (110 m) above the house to supply the natural water pressure for the famous Emperor Fountain in Chatsworth’s formal gardens. William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire decided to construct the world’s highest fountain in 1844 to impress Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, whom he expected to visit Chatsworth. Sadly the Tsar died before he could come, but the fountain continues to impress visitors today.
The lake was teaming with wildlife and is a perfect place to sit and have a picnic. The water sparkled in the sunshine and we made our way by its edge, watching wild ducks and geese and listening to the songbirds chattering in the trees all around us.
The path then took us past Swiss Lake; dug out in the 1690’s to supply water to the first Duke’s cascade. (The Cascade remains an attractive and unusual feature of the formal gardens today.) On the shore of Swiss Lake is Swiss Cottage, originally a gamekeeper’s cottage, built by Paxton in the Swiss style as an “eye catcher” to be admired on carriage rides around the grounds.
Shortly afterwards, we climbed over a stile and the landscape changed abruptly as we found ourselves on Beeley Moor with its bracken and gritstones. Our path took us off the edge of the moor, across fields, and past a farm until we finally joined the main road through the Chatsworth Estate just outside the village of Beeley.
Crossing the narrow bridge in the direction of Carlton Lees and the garden centre (also a good place for refreshments), we joined the sheep on the undulating grass banks before stopping to admire the House over to our right and a herd of deer to our left, completely undisturbed by our presence.
Having crossed the grass and taken a narrow gate, we found ourselves back in Edensor village, where the church is well worth a visit. It is the resting place of the dukes of Devonshire and also of Joseph Paxton and Kathleen Kennedy.
We can recommend many excellent walks through the Chatsworth estate. It is just a short drive from Candlelight Cottage and has something for everyone. If you haven’t the energy to walk up to the Hunting Tower, you can ride up in a golf buggy instead. There are also buggy tours around the formal gardens for the less mobile as well as wheelchair hire. The House itself is full of stunning treasures and artwork and the formal gardens are amazing, but if all you want to do is walk, then you have all the rest of the estate at your disposal and it is completely free.
If this has whetted your appetite, check out Candlelight Cottage’s availability calendar and come and see for yourself!