We are very lucky to have the Peak District on our doorstep and sometimes I wonder how we all manage to get any work done at all in the Little Trekkers office. One place that we return to time after time is the Chatsworth House Estate.
We buy an annual pass each year which, having gone up significantly this year, is a little pricey. However, as we go so often it does still make each individual visit cost effective, especially as we get free tickets to their annual Country Show.
You can go into the house and this does entertain older kids to some degree for the first time. You can also explore the gardens which have over 5 miles of walks. This is best for children either when it has snowed, making fantastic masses of space for snowmen building, or when it is a very sunny day. On sunny days the kids play in the 300 year old Cascade – a trough waterfall in the rockery.
I'm not really sure if this is 'allowed' and therefore don't take my word for this! However, on the Chatsworth website the photo for the Cascade has a little girl with her bare feet dangling into the water and is followed by the text "Visitors are encouraged to explore the garden at their leisure, there are no signs saying 'keep off the grass'". How refreshing to hear is that?!
Outside of the paying attractions there are miles and miles of open space to explore along the river and beyond. It is an enormous estate. And there would be plenty of places to walk or have a picnic by the river without paying any entry fee (except a small car parking fee) if you chose.
Having said all that, the best bit for the kids is undoubtedly the Farmyard & Adventure Playground. The farmyard is relatively small but almost always has piglets and hatched chicks, as well as hens and cockerels which parade around your feet. They also do a milking display and have a few other animals to see.
The adventure playground is big and has something to entertain from toddlers to teens. It is probably the best playground that we have been to. One side is a more traditional playground which keeps the younger children happy. The other side is a high tree tops adventure playground with big towers to climb, rope bridges to cross and enormous slides to tear down. All great, but to top it all off are 2 very large sandpits which both allow children to feed up water from the stream via large rotating Archimedes Screw devices.
All this means that the children get completely lost in play as they dig channels and create water pools all over the sandpits. It keeps them occupied for hours, so thank fully there are picnic benches all around this area for the grown-ups. However, don't save a place for the Dads though, as they seem completely unable to keep away from the Archimedes Screws! My advice, on colder days take your child's wellies and waterproofs (and possibly a change of clothes). In summer, take a towel for drying off wet feet at the end of the day (and possibly a change of clothes).
The little cafe in the farmyard/Adventure playground area is not bad at all. However, a nice touch is that they also provide a good-sized picnic room where you can go to have your packed lunch if you don't want soggy sandwiches in the rain.
- Tags: Peak District