So, here’s a few of our favourite places to go in the North of Derbyshire, needless to say if you have a favourite or two not listed here, then drop us a message and we’ll add it on 🙂
These are not purely pagan places of interest, but places which for one or some of us, hold special meaning. You might question the inclusion of non-natural places in this list, buildings and gardens having been built by Man and not created by nature, but land spirits are everywhere and make no distinction, making a visit to even the most intensively managed of places a potentially profound experience.
Houses, castles and grounds:
Peveril Castle (near Winnats Pass) (English Heritage) William Peveril has quite an influence on this part of the country, as in addition to Bolsover he built this castle, known as the Castle of the Peak.
Wingfield Manor – (English Heritage) WIth its Late Gothic Great Hall and magnificent high tower, Wingfield Manor was one of the largest courtyard palaces in England when it was built in the 15th Century by Lord Cromwell, Treasurer to Henry VI.
Bolsover Castle – (English Heritage) Situated in a fine defensive position on a hilltop, the original castle was built soon after the Norman Conquest by William Peveril, one of William the Conqueror’s most loyal supporters. However in the 17th Century defence was not a priority for the new owner, Sir Charles Cavendish, whose family owned Chatsworth House. What was important were the magnificent views and the fact that the neighbours were the Leakes of Sutton Hall (Later Sutton Scarsdale) and his relative Bess of Hardwick. Cavendish immediately started to redesign Bolsover in keeping with the fashion of the Romantic Age. He built the Little Castle as an elegant retreat – a place for recreation and repose, and his son built the Riding House for training horses.
Hardwick Old Hall – (English Heritage) Bess of Hardwick was a remarkable woman. Born into a relatively poor family, she became the second richest woman in the kingdom after Queen Elizabeth I. Through her four marriages and her own intellect and determination, she rose to a position of great power, despite being thrown into the Tower of London a couple of times! Due to the number of windows it inspired the following rhyme: Hardwick Hall/ more glass than wall
Sutton Scarsdale Hall – Although the elaborate paneling which once graced this Georgian Mansion is now to be found in American museums, it is still possible to appreciate the Halls former splendour. Home of the Leke (or Leake) family for several hundred years, the hall is an 18th Century remodelling of an earlier house.
Chatsworth House grounds and gardens now owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, the grounds are home to sheep, cattle and a herd of fallow deer. There are two car parks (pay and display), and enough grounds outside the house and gardens to keep you walking for hours. There are also public facilities, a resturant and a shop up by the stable block.
9 Ladies Stone Circle, Stanton Moor on the edge of Stanton Moor, within a secluded grove of trees is the remains of a small stone circle with a king stone. The site was originally a burial cairn although the central mound and cist have long gone. No ameneties on site.
Arbor Low stone circle – a collapsed stone circle made from 47 giant pieces of limestone. Bank and ditch surrounds together with a double burial mound called Gibb Hill a little way off across the field. Be sure to drop a donation into the box in the farmyard on the way in, no amenities on site, access gained across a privately owned field.
Queens Park, Chesterfield – a lovely little green space near the centre of Chesterfield, with a cricket ground, miniature railway, boating pond and play areas as wells as a bandstand or two and some open grassland. Painted on a bridge support under the Chatsworth Road entrance footbridge, there’s a wonderful image of a green lady. There’s also Fredericks Ice Cream Parlour tucked away near the Chatsworth Road entrance. Mmmm, ice cream…
Stanedge Edge – If you happen top go clambering up the stones (like most of us do, lets face it…) don’t stand too close to the edge, you may fall off and aside from the inevitable pain, it’s also rather embarrassing to have to explain to the ambulance crew…
Winnats Pass (near Peveril Castle)
Hope Valley – (especially at Well Dressing time!) – Go during the well dressing period, the workmanship and crafting involved in making the Well Dressing is well worth seeing for yourself. This custom originally started to respect and give thanks for the clean water available after the years of the Black Death, and has developed in the modern day into a tradition most strongly practiced in Derbyshire.
Linacre Reservoir and Woods – three reservoirs and surrounding woods, through which you can make up any length of walk. In Spring the woods are full of bluebells and wildlife. A wonderfully re-energising place in which it’s possible to lose many happy hours wandering through and exploring. The paths are wide and flat, although there are occasional stairs and some places have no railings between the path edge and the water. There are no amenities on site, though occasionally an ice-cream van can be found in the car park during summer.
Walton Dam, Chesterfield a short walking place, which consists of a path between a dam and a small meadow area before it goes through a lovely woods with a river and stream running parallel. Wildlife is mostly in the form of waterbirds, including Mallards and Canadian Geese, with the occasional spot of a Grey Heron. There are amenities and buns available at the nearby supermarket.
Curbar and Froggatt Edge a haven for walkers and climbers (though not recommended for novice climbers) providing spectacular views across the Derwent valley. There is a pub, The Chequers in the village of Froggatt, but no other public amenities. Good walking along the riverside and along the edge.
Places a little further afield:
Edale, Kinder Scout and the start of the Pennine Way –
Malham Cove, North Yorkshire – 80m high and 300m wide limestone crag formed after the last Ice Age. The limestone pavement on the top of the Cove is covered with the wonderfully named clints, the ridges of limestone, and grikes, the gaps inbetween.
The Icknied Way, Oxfordshire. This prehistoric road runs 110 miles through the middle of Britain, from Norfolk to Buckinghamshire and can claim to be the oldest road in Britain. Parts of it were reputed, by those who lived near it in centuries past, to lead to the end of the world.
Chysauster Ancient Village, Cornwall (English Heritage) A well preserved Iron Age village which was occupied from about 100BC to 300AD. It’s large oval houses with open hearths, stone basins for grinding grain and covered drains stand along what is recognised to be one of the oldest streets in the country.
Julians Bower, Lincolnshire – The name is misleading, as this is not a bower, but a turf maze. Julian’s Bower is one of the few surviving examples of these structures, which are not designed to confuse as a hedge maze or labyrinth, but to provide a clear circuitous route round. The names given to them, such as Julian’s Bower or the Walls of Troy reflect the legend that mazes were brought to Italy by Julius, son of Aeneas founder of Rome. The village church at Alkborough has a replica in the church porch and the chancel window.
Richborough Roman Fort, Kent – (English Heritage) Richborough was the first fort built by the Romans when they invaded Britain in 43AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius. The sea has receded since they were here, but Richborough and Reculver were important elements of the Roman coastal defences and later formed part of the Saxon Shore defence system towards the end of the Roman occupation of Britain when the threat came from the invading Saxons.
And moving quite a lot further afield, below you’ll find a link to a gallery of images from the Orkney Isles, off the north of Scotland (the ones that aren’t Shetland).