I fancied a kipper the other day, but as my tastes run to something better than the dyed apologies on offer in supermarkets, I decided to combine my shopping trip with a walk, especially as the day in question was one of the sunniest we have had in this atrociously wet winter so far.
There may be other places where you can buy a real kipper in our locality, but the best by far in my opinion is the Chatsworth Farm Shop near Pilsley, the main Chatsworth estate village. Here you can buy some of the finest produce on offer, much of it grown, reared or baked on Chatsworth estate property. What I was after was not produced by the estate, but was one of the diligently sourced items of high quality produce on offer. In my case, my search was for the excellent Manx kippers caught by fishermen working out of the tiny ancient harbour at Peel and smoked within yards of the quayside. Herrings that end up as kippers migrate annually around the British Isles and seem to have put on weight by the time they reach the Irish Sea. As a result Manx kippers, especially those from Peel are about as succulent as can be found anywhere. Full of omega oils, they are not only tasty, but a healthy addition to our diet.
Chatsworth Farm Shop was the brain child of the late Duchess of Devonshire. Like many of the innovative ideas she came up with, the farm shop must make a very useful addition to the costs of running Chatsworth House and its surrounding parkland. Despite being a little off the beaten track, the shop is always busy no matter when we call. Rather than have it slap in the middle of the already busy section around the house, the shop is based on the once redundant buildings of the estate stud farm across the road from Pilsley village, home of many of the estate workers. Stocked with a tempting array of edible goodies, no one who goes there seems to come away empty handed; where else could you buy freshly baked real bread, or well hung finest beef? And of course kippers!
Although she might have been an astute business woman, the late Duchess’s attempt to break into the London quality food market had to be abandoned when it failed to compete with the likes of Harrods, or Fortnum and Mason. Probably her mistake was in assuming London quality food shoppers knew about Chatsworth, but their loss was our gain.
Because TM Travel’s 217 service from Matlock to Chatsworth stops twice a day outside my house, I couldn’t resist standing at the bus stop by 10:20 a.m. the other morning. Despite being out of season with the great house still closed for spring cleaning, the car park was quite busy when we arrived at Chatsworth; family groups were already enjoying the almost forgotten sunshine and taking off for strolls around the park, or climbing up into Stand Wood. Our route was away from the house, over the river and through Edensor. Here we took the old way up to the ridge-top road from Bakewell and turned right for one of the least known but superlative views over the central Peak. Pilsley village and the farm shop were about a mile of easy road walking further on and joy of joys, there were the kippers I sought; and to complete the pleasure it was only a yard or so round the back to the café for a late morning coffee. A short stroll through the village took us to the Devonshire Arms where a right turn downhill along another quiet lane reached the busy A619. Unfortunately this road is the only blackspot on an easy back lanes and parkland walk, but it is soon finished. A right turn at the traffic island in Baslow joined the Manchester to Chesterfield road as far as the Cavendish Hotel and the path through the park back to Chatsworth House.
6 miles (9.6km) of easy back lanes and parkland walking, but with a short stretch of busy main road where care should be taken.
Recommended Map: Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 scale Outdoor Leisure Sheet 24. The White Peak Area.
Public Transport; TM Travel 217 hourly service from Matlock.
Car parking (pay) at Chatsworth House.
Refreshments. Chatsworth Stables, Farm shop and Devonshire Arms at Pilsley.
- From the car park walk down to and across the bridge.
The isolated walled structure surrounded by a usually dry moat to your right, prior to the bridge, is known as Queen Mary’s Bower and is where the captive queen took her ease while held at Chatsworth.
- Immediately over the bridge leave the road by turning right to climb a footpath leading over the rise and down to the main road.
- Cross the road, go through the gates and follow the lane through Edensor village.
Edensor (pron. Ensor) village was built on the instructions of the 6th Duke of Devonshire when the park was being landscaped by Joseph Paxton, his head Gardner. At that time Edensor was within sight of the house and to improve the view, the duke decreed that it should be moved. Looking at a book of architect’s plans, the duke decided that as he couldn’t decide which of them he liked best, then he would have one of each! The result is a very pleasant village with houses all the same age, but all different. There is however, one house remaining from the old village. This is out of sight in a hollow before the main village and is known as Naboth’s Vineyard from the biblical story of the man who defied a king.
- Walk along the road past the church and through the village, continuing until the lane forks and becomes a rough track.
- Do not follow the better surface going left, but continue ahead on a rough track. Follow it until it joins a ridge-top lane.
- Turn right along the lane, following it until it joins a second road. Walk along this while admiring the views across a lesser known part of the Peak.
The Farm Shop is signposted on your right and the café is to its rear.
- Cross the road opposite the shop and walk past the school to make your way through the pretty Chatsworth Estate village of Pilsley as far as the Devonshire Arms.
- Turn right opposite the pub and go downhill along the narrow road until it reaches the road from Chatsworth to Baslow.
- Cross over and turn left and continue onwards at its junction with the busy A619. WALK IN SINGLE FILE PAYING GREAT ATTENTION TO THE BUSY TRAFFIC ESPECIALLY AS THERE IS NO PAVEMENT UNTIL THE ROAD REACHES BASLOW.
- Turn right at the traffic island in Baslow and walk along the pavement, past the entrance to a caravan site and as far as a narrow squeezer stile.
- Go down steps to follow a path round the back of the Cavendish Hotel, crossing a footbridge and over a meadow.
- Turn right by a large house and follow the access track, through a curious swinging kissing gate and into Chatsworth Park.
- Follow the track all the way back to the house where the Stables Restaurant and café are to your left.