Chatsworth House

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Chatsworth House and Gardens is a must to visit if you are in this part of England. There is so much to do that you should allow a full day to see most of the main areas.

Car parking costs £3 for the full day and there are other charges for entry to the house and gardens etc but these are not extortionate considering the amount there is to see.

We spent about an hour wandering around the house and this is, I feel, the minimum time you should allow. If you are particularly interested in paintings, sculpture etc it would take considerably longer. There are guides and illustrated sheets in each room, all very helpful. It was unusual to find modern pieces amongst the art. We found the entrance hall and staircase, and the dining room particularly fascinating but expect other rooms appeal to other tastes, all are interesting and, unlike National Trust properties, photographs were allowed in most rooms. There are some fantastic ceilings so remember to look up!

As we visited mid May there were not many plants in flower but the structure of the garden promised much for the summer. The tropical greenhouse was colourful and, of course, the cascade and the Emperor Fountain spectacular. Several good modern sculptures are dotted around the grounds.

We took a tractor and trailer trip up to the Hunting Lodge and to the lakes – the source of the water for the all the fountains and water features. This took about an hour, cost £3.50 and was well worth doing, blankets were supplied as it was a cold day. The views were fantastic and there was an informative live commentary about the design of the lakes, upkeep of the estate etc.

Fairly close to the car park is the old stable block in which there are shops, a cafe and a restaurant. This part can be visited without paying for the house which is further down the hill. A free buggy runs between the stable and the house for those with problems walking – or are just tired or lazy! There are other snack bars around the site, including one just inside the gardens, close to the house.

We did not visit the farmyard and adventure playground but I am sure this would be a worthwhile detour, particularly if you have children with you. Other optional extras include a buggy tour of the gardens and a guided tour of the house. Free guided garden walks are also on offer.

Altogether a very enjoyable day out with a very wide range of things to do.


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