We started in Bakewell, beautiful Bakewell with pies that taste the way you always dreamed pies should taste, and the tarts are quite nice as well.
We climbed up and up, past some grandstanding llamas and into some beautiful woods, here we are off our planned route and well into our several-mile accidental diversion:
I loved most the Carlton Pastures, with Bronze Age tumuli dotting their great expanses, the dead overlooking the views from the hill tops.
We continued to pass an inordinate amount of sheep clustered ominously under the trees — it did indeed rain.
Finally to Chatsworth itself — a great change from glorious rolling hills and the grounding of farms and livestock, or the evocative tumuli of ancestors who lived very different lives, much harder lives than we do. Here it sits, a great square presence on the river Derwent. It is meant to look like wealth and power, and look like wealth and power it does.
Here it is from above, looking down from the pastures. You have to remember that this is a landscape sculpted and shaped to accentuate its great romantic sweeps and, of course, the wealth and power of its owners. First by gardener Capability Brown, and then by Joseph Paxton, an immense amount of money and labour have been expended to create a landscape that tries demurely to appear natural as though no such thing took place. This is one of that plural noun hatred of gardens that I have expended venom on before. Funny how many of them are in the Peak District, Keddleston Hall is just around the corner, vying with this one. I did want to see how it sat within its landscape, and the walk was worth it.
Of course the Duke of Devonshire trumped almost everyone by the removal of the local village that once sat along the Derwent. He rebuilt it with the help of Joseph Paxton (who built the Crystal Palace in my own patch, who also built a remarkable conservatory for the Duke, demolished in 1920). Rumour has it that the Duke himself sat with a pattern book and picked out a different pattern for each of the homes there.
It bothered Mark and I that it was this picturesque, and undoubtedly the homes were of better quality than those that had been lost and lives thus improved. But in the end this seemed to add insult to injury, because these lives were thus put on display when ancestral homes were moved at a whim and the Duke able to show off his philanthropy and his taste to his friends, his dependents become showpieces.
We left that place, set off into a misting kind of rain that helped erase the ugliness of unchecked power and massive gaudy aristocratic bling. We headed to see the Ball Cross Iron Age hillfort, which sat overlooking the valley though the view is now obscured by trees.
A great walk all in all, whatever your feelings about Dukes and things, and Bakewell is very well served by public transport.
And did I mention that steak and stilton pie? I dream of it still…from the Bakewell Pudding Shop.
3 thoughts on “Chatsworth”