I slept like a log after our amazing day, yesterday, exploring the Peak District (which, you can read here). As my alarm went off, I caught the faintest smell of breakfast being prepared in the dining room downstairs.
Within a matter of minutes, I plonked myself right at the table awaiting my food. I’m not sure what it is about the smell of toast and a full English breakfast, but it works better for me than the strongest coffee in the works!
After filling up on breakfast and several teapots of tea, we decided to go for a stroll through Bakewell, which is often thought of as the capital of the Peak District.
Now, for us, food is always an important part of our microgap.
You see, a microgap is all about diving right into local experiences and really becoming immersed in a place. It’s all so similar to a gap year, just in a more bitesize chunk of time. For us, this was three days, but it could be a little longer (or shorter) too, it’s about fitting a microgap into the time you have and making the very most of it.
Anyway, I’m totally going off topic but within no time at all, we arrived into Bakewell to conquer one of my biggest goals… to find the most delicious treats at the original home of said treats. In the case of the Peak District, it has to be the Bakewell Pudding.
Now, for the longest time, I always thought the Bakewell Tart was the original pudding of choice here but I was very wrong. Apparently, Bakewell Pudding has been around for centuries before the idea of a Bakewell Tart was even considered. As it’s the original pudding of Bakewell, I knew we had to get one.
After a little stroll through the winding little streets, we came across one little spot that seemed to be popular with locals. Now, I’m the kinda person that sees a queue and quickly determines that everything I’ve ever needed must be at the front of the queue.
Without batting even an eyelid, I quickly headed right over to Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop.
^Those ladies above kinda helped with this decision, assuring us that “There are no calories in anything here…“, with cheeky giggles as they left.
As we got closer, I could smell the puddings baking inside!
Even though the puddings are pretty famous nowadays, they were apparently created by accident back in the 1800s and it’s something of a fluke that it even came into being. Well, accident or not, I was intent on trying a few! 😉
Now, I know I’d only just eaten breakfast but I just couldn’t resist that freshly-baked smell. The Bakewell Pudding itself is made with oodles of pastry, eggs, lashings of butter, sweet jam and ground almonds.
As you can imagine, we inhaled them in an instant. It was delicious! 😋
Suitably filled up (again), we decided it time to head to one of the main reasons I wanted to come to the Peak District on our microgap – Chatsworth House.
The seat of the Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth House is much more of a ‘palace’ than a ‘house’, that I’m used to. It’s fit for royalty and a pretty fancy joint to call home.
Built way back in the 15th Century, Chatsworth House has been on my wish list of places to see for what feels like an eternity, especially after seeing it the movie, Pride and Prejudice.
As we arrived, we headed straight for a stroll around the main rooms.
The first thing that struck me was how grand Chatsworth House is, it’s not only immense but so ornate inside. I almost felt like royalty just wandering around and I still can’t quite believe that someone gets to call this house a home.
After traipsing through the state bedrooms and seeing the gorgeous library, we decided to head straight for the painted room that is said to be the most beautiful room in all of the Peak District.
And you know what, I have to agree!
The ceilings were just as impressive, too.
Along the way, we even came across a gift that J. K. Rowling left to the late Duke – a signed Firebolt (Harry Potter fans will be very familiar with this).
This alone made me pretty excited!
I’m not sure what it is but anything Harry Potter-esque and I turn into my 12-year-old self again.
Even more intriguing is the amount of art and curiosities that are inside and within the estate itself.
After strolling through the vast hallways and staterooms, we finally found ourselves at (what can only be described as) an Aladdin’s cave of treasures.
Filled with everything from sculptures, paintings and hanging installations, it’s part of the family’s private collection. After a little rummage through the installations, we decided to head back to the car (via the gardens) for a little spot of lunch in Pilsley.
Now, we did have grand plans of popping into the Chatsworth Estate Farmhouse for a little bite, but the queues were huge that we decided to waste no time and strolled around the village of Pilsley instead.
This is how we ended up at the Devonshire Arms in Pilsley. It wasn’t planned at all but a totally nice surprise. It’s a proper countryside pub and one that hit the spot just brilliantly!
Anyway, after a little gin and tonic (for Yaya) and a Coke for me (the driver), we ordered some proper British pub grub. I went for the homemade chicken and leek pie, whilst Yaya went for the roast lamb from a local butcher.
As you can imagine, we devoured the lot!
By this point, I reminded Yaya that we actually hadn’t stopped eating all day. Though, if I’m honest, we would need the energy for some of the next places we were visiting.
Now, do you remember in our last post that I mentioned that the Peak District was once at the bottom of the ocean near the equator? Well, this is one of the many reasons for all the unique rock formations and caves that seem to be scattered just below the surface.
After hearing all about this on the day before, I knew I had to see some of these caves and valleys for ourselves. This is why we decided to pop on over to Winnats Pass and Speedwell Cavern.
After parking up, we thought it best to make the most of the daylight and head for a ramble around Winnats Pass first.
With our lack of hiking shoes and the moisture in the air, I definitely slipped a good few times on the grass. I kept grilling Yaya to make sure he prepared us better next time, which went down like a lead balloon. 😉
With a few slips under my belt, we headed through the pass and up some of the less steep inclines to see the views.
They were immense.
With daylight hours slipping away, we traipsed back towards Speedwell Cavern, that’s right by Winnats Pass.
After grabbing our tickets, we headed down the cavern with our own guide. Now, at this point, all I knew is that these caverns were a pretty cool thing to see in the Peak District but I had no idea what was going to come next.
As we entered the ‘secret door’ we descended down a tunnel of steps. It felt like a gazillion steps but I’m sure it was actually around 100 (or so). 😉
Once we reached the bottom, we were greeted by a small opening in the cavern, with a stream and boat running through it.
Immediately, my mind went straight to the tunnel from the original ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ film. It brought back memories that seemed to be the perfect mix of terrifying and exciting.
To be honest, I’m not even embarrassed to say it was a little scary. It was pitch-black down there, with not a soul around. I’d have felt terrified if we weren’t with our lovely guide, that’s for sure!
Anyway, keeping my fear under wraps, we hopped on-board the metal boat that seemed to go into an abyss of a tunnel. It was pitch black, about a metre high, with no end to be seen.
After a little pep talk (and safety helmet), the tiny little motor on the boat started, and with that, we slowly headed into the unknown.
After a little history of the area, the cavern and our next stop, we began to slow down at a dark but pretty vast spot. I could tell this even in the pitch black as our voices began to echo. We had emerged from the tiny tunnel into a huge cavern, deep below the Peak District.
By this point, my fear had slightly gone and was actually excited to see where we ended up.
Moments later, our guide flicked a few switches and turned on the lights. It was an immense cavern that went higher than I could see! It was huge.
Honestly, the photos don’t even show you the scale of this place.
As I sat there in awe, we decided to get off the boat and explore a little of the cavern to itself.
To the left, I noticed a massive gauge going down, it was deep… very deep!
Apparently, it’s known as the Bottomless Pit and is home to one of the largest subterranean lakes in the region. Let’s just say I wasn’t prepared to find out how deep the lake actually was. 😉
And with that, it was time to head back above ground.
After emerging from the cavern, we thought it best to check into our digs for the night. You see, tonight we wanted to do something pretty special and a little bit different. We decided to organise a tented lodge at the Gathering within the deepest countryside around Edale.
Now, I personally can’t think of anything worse than sleeping in a tent in wintery conditions. I’ve only ever camped in summer and that was amazing, but winter seems like a whole different story.
Thankfully, this wasn’t anything like camping at all. In fact, it was the opposite! Our lodge felt more like a home away from home, with log fires, a big bath and massive beds to snuggle in.
It was bliss.
I’m going to share much more on our lodge in our next post as, by the time we arrived, it was pretty dark.
That being said, we still found time to drive back through the village for a spot of dinner. We’d had a local recommendation that the Samuel Fox Country Inn was one of the tastiest spots to eat it.
They certainly weren’t wrong! This was hands-down the very best meal we had the entire time we’d been in the Peak District.
For mains, we both went for pan-fried sea bass that was delicious. So good in fact that I didn’t want that main course to end, but end it did. Greedy guts, here, devoured it all.
In light of how tasty or the main course was, I knew we had to order pudding.
Again, we both went for exactly the same dish of sticky-toffee pudding with dollops of delicious ice-cream. It was a rich and totally dreamy plate from the gods. Honestly, I wanted to lick the plate clean. Though, I resisted that part for common decency. 😉
As the night drew to a close, we headed back to our tented lodge that was nice and toasty from the roaring fire inside.
After a hot cuppa, we called it a night, eager to enjoy the lodge the very next day. 😁
Article credit to: https://handluggageonly.co.uk/2019/01/20/finding-winnats-pass-and-an-underground-river-in-the-peak-district-england/