Chatsworth Caravan and Motorhome site in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside was all nicely lined up for a few days in February. The day soon arrived and this was our third attempt into 2018 to try and find some snow.
We’d missed out on the previous two as no matter where we were, the snow was always at the other end of the country. Scotland would have been a definite but as we were out of holiday leave it was just that little bit too far to go for a few nights away.
Weather reports were checked and it all looked quite promising, but British weather being what it is it still wasn’t a definite.
Due to Chatsworth location and the very narrow one way access road onto the site there was a strict policy of no entry for new arrivals until 1pm. So as not to run the risk of getting a telling off we left it as late as we dare, in the hope we would arrive a few minutes past the crucial hour.
Low and behold we arrived 4 minutes past the hour and cruised onto the single track road towards the site and its reception office. No sooner had we set wheels on the track when we saw no more than 20 meters in front of us the rear end of another caravan slowly manoeuvring its way along.
We thought, okay, not too bad, the chain gate had only just been removed so we must be one of the first to arrive, no. As we slowly wound our way down the track it opened up in front of us and we saw not 2 vehicles, but 8 and behind us there was an ever increasing queue of ‘vans and motorhomes working their way along the same track.
It was quite amusing as neither of us had ever seen anything like this before, but we resigned ourselves to sitting in the queue until it came to our turn to book in. We didn’t know how long we expected to be there but we were pleasantly surprised as the queue moved along quite quickly and we were soon at the gate being greeted by one of the wardens.
Procedure was explained and it was described by the warden as being the quickest and most proficient way of getting everyone on the site with the minimum of fuss. This required a ‘stop and drop’, by which we mean, once outside the office, the passenger, whom ever it may be, jumped out of the car and went directly into the office to book in. Whilst this was being done, driver of said vehicle was required to move along to the next stopping point. All very well we thought, but the stopping point was approximately the length of a standard outfit away from the office, so it didn’t really seem to lessen the queue and what about the solo travellers. But, ours is not to reason why, we were there and that was the main thing.
The site was quite full and we were informed by the wardens that they were expecting 65 ‘vans over the weekend, really good figures, considering it was February.
Pitch was found and Pod with her awning was soon up and running, the thermal wrap went on too, all in preparation for the expected, or should say, dreamed of snow drift.
Kettle had done its job and we sat and chilled with a nice pot of tea and cream cakes watching ‘vans come and go, some did 3 loops of the site in search of the their perfect spot.
Time came for a walk and as we had obtained our ‘secret garden’ gate key we decided to go for a stroll through Chatsworth grounds and work our way towards Baslow and a pub.
Pod was locked and awning secured, then once on the other side of the wall and on Chatsworth grounds we turned left and began our walk along the slightly sodden path but this wasn’t for too long, we then passed the gate house, went through the kissing gate and followed the path to the main road.
Once at the junction we had a couple of pubs to choose from but we decided on The Wheatshef as Caravan and Motorhome Club members were in line for a 20% discount on food.
In we went and found a table near the window, all look good and they seemed to have a nice selection of craft ales on offer. Typical pub fare was on offer and the portions were large, so much so MrB struggled to finish his main, but we managed to squeeze a few more ales in before taking our stroll back to Pod.
Evening showers were had and these were typical of what the C&MC had on most sites, showers we hot enough but would have liked them just a tad hotter, not enough to cause blisters but enough to feel yourself glowing.
All tucked up back at Pod we were very cosy, temperatures were dropping but there was no sign of snow on the forecast.
Woke to a very wet morning, rain looked like it was in for the day, not a good day for walking in the countryside so we decided to head into Bakewell and see what it had to offer, with the plan to return and settle down to watch England v Wales in the Six Nations.
Parking was easy enough to find and we paid 5.00 for 3 hours. We had a wander round the streets to get our bearings and found ourselves at a local craft fair. A very small affair but it had lots to offer, quilting, home made fudge, cards and a grand variety of jams. A jar of Sweet Clementine Marmalade caught our eye so that was our purchase made.
Once out of the fair we took a stroll along the main roads and passed a few bakeries offering Bakewell Puddings and Tarts, we decided to grab some lunch in the hope it may be on offer as a desert.
Lime Tree Coffee House was our stop for lunch and we tucked into ciabattas and a pot of tea, sadly no puddings were on offer, which seemed strange to us as it seemed a simple desert to offer and would promote a local produce. Also, much to MrBs annoyance, no chips were on the menu.
Needless to say, once we left the coffee house we found the Bakewell Pudding shop and bought the said item, had to buy the tart too though, needed for a taste comparison later.
Didn’t take long to get back to the site and we timed it so as not to get stuck behind any new arrivals.
Kettle went on and with feet up in front of the TV we settled into the game whilst conducting taste tastes of the said Bakewell delights. Now, they both went down very well, not all, we hasten to add, just enough to provide a comparison and taste buds switched from one to the other, so much so, neither of us could give a definitive answer to which we preferred.
England won 12-6, good game and hard hitting, we would have had Farrell as ‘man of the match’ but those better qualified than us saw it differently.
Dinner time arrived soon after and the slow cooker came out to play, along with our new door hooked bin, slow cooker works brilliantly for us as the main section cooked a delicious chicken, sausage and apple cider stew, whilst the griddle on top cooked some rather tasty garlic and chilli prawns wrapped in foil. The bin worked brilliantly too, small things you might think, but made a huge difference to preparing the food, just scraped into it, no messing, brilliant.
Following day looked like it was going to be wet again but we weren’t going to be deterred on this occasion, come low winds and high water, we were going walking. Chatsworth grounds were still yet to be explored, somewhere in the grounds a very large elephant shaped rock had an inscription carved in it to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and is now known as the Jubilee Rock.
We slept very well, strong winds woke us occasionally, but not enough to cause us any concern, so neither of us budged from our very warm, snug bed.
Rain was still doing its best and on the odd occasion it turned to snow, but not long or cold enough to stick, perfect weather for the ducks though, they were in evidence all over the site and would waddle on past in search of food.
Wrapped up in our waterproofs, gloves and hats we set off through the secret garden gate and turned right towards Chatsworth House.
Up the main road we went and took the entrance to the left of the house which took us straight into Stand Woods.
Quite a steep start but we remained on the main tarmac path and walked in the direction of the two lakes, The Emperor and Swiss lakes. The further we walked the path became more snow laden, nothing too deep but enough to give it a crunch under foot and a spectacular country eye-line view.
The Swiss Cottage appeared soon enough and between powerful gusts and hail we managed to grab a few pictures, apparently the cottage is for rent and we could just picture ourselves there, especially on a beautiful, crisp, fresh day like today.
We continued to follow the road round and as we stepped on the little wooden bridge we turned towards the Emperor Lake. Just as we stopped to look up the lake the sun came out and a cold fresh breeze passed in front of us, it dropped down to the waters edge and flittered across the water making it ripple in the direction of the bridge, beautiful.
We continued on, there wasn’t many people about, just the odd one or two, we could hear the Chatsworth Hunt somewhere in the foreground and we weren’t sure if it would come bounding in our direction so kept our eyes peeled.
The Hunting Tower came into view and this again is a very impressive building, this is also up for rent and the views were incredible, all the way out and down to the house and beyond, but not sure how we’d feel about a bunch of people sitting on the front lawn having their picnics, also making the most of the view. It seemed to be a regular spot for walkers to take a break and today was no different.
Once back on the footpath we came face to face with the hunt, it was in an opposite field and they appeared to have taken a break as all were sat astride their horses whilst the dogs roamed around below them.
We were a little uncertain as to how to feel about the Hunt as neither of us wished to see a fox ripped to pieces but understand tradition is a big part of the the community. Once back at Pod we did a little research into the Chatsworth Hunt and discovered it was a ‘clean boot hunt’, their quarry is human, such as a fell runner and he/she is usually rewarded by being licked to death. A much better approach we thought and now wished we’d taken a few pictures of the event.
Downwards we went, towards the village but the pub would not be visited until the Jubilee Rock had been located.
After a few wrong turns towards boulders and rocks that didn’t fit the bill, we eventually spotted it off on the horizon. Brilliant piece of work and still very legible, you could also see its previous identity in its shape too, clearly an elephant, don’t you think.
Feeling very accomplished we headed in the direction of Baslow and once in the centre we thought we’d try The Devonshire Arms, not to be it seemed, as they had stopped serving food, so across the road we went to the Wheatshef.
Phones then came out to calculate how far we’d walked, turns out that by the time we returned to Pod we would have done a nice 6 mile walk.
Our walk back took us back through the kissing gate and by this time the snow was starting to fall, Pod was waiting with the awning light glowing through the window and once inside our little fan heater came into its own, wonderful little thing, works a treat.
Showers were had and by now the snow was getting heavier, it was also sticking so there was a small promise of a possible white awakening.
We slept soundly and woke to an amazing site, the road, ground and surrounding caravans were covered in snow, untouched by anyone, so without wasting a second MrB ran out in only his shorts and snapped a few pictures of Pod and the surrounding area, sorry, no pictures of this event, so you’ll just have to believe us, he did get a few strange looks as expected but it had to be done didn’t it.
Now of course the next thing to do before breakfast was to build a snow person, but the snow person had to have a Snow Pod. Clothes were donned this time and out we went, don’t think we did too bad, do you ? Definitely have the Pod shape, even a step.
The day ahead looked fabulous, not a cloud in the sky so a walk was definitely on the cards. After speaking to a few people on a variety of caravan media pages we took someone’s advice and decided to visit Nelsons Monument on Birchen Edge and also stop by the three boulders named after his she ships, Victory, Defiance and Royal Soverin.
Again our winter gear was donned and off we went. Once through the garden gate we turned left and headed in the direction of the Jubilee Rock. The grounds were a complete blanket of snow and in places a good few inches deep, we passed a few of the horse jumps and the odd one looked more like a piece of art than an object in an obstacle course.
Upwards we went and took the footpath towards The Robin Hood Inn and Birchen Edge, a bit treacherous in places as it was very sodden, plus the snow tended to hide the path, luckily for us the route we were taking someone had walked earlier so we soon found ourselves at the foot of Birchen Edge.
Through the gate we went and followed the footpath along the base of the ridge, there was a footpath off up the ridge on the right but we decided to approach it from the bottom and walk that way back to the village.
The path slowly rose towards the ridge and we passed the Monument on our right, as we came to the end of the wall lined fields we decided to take a path up towards the ridge and what a good choice this was.
As we reached the top we came face to face with the trig point for Birchen Edge, couldn’t have worked out better.
The snow was starting to melt but the overall view from the top was still incredible, the wind had picked up and a chill was starting to set in so we made the decision to head in the direction of the Monument and then onto the village.
Nelsons Monument was set precariously on the cliff edge and from this point you could see down to Baslow and beyond to Chatsworth’s grounds. Behind the Monument sat the three huge boulders with the names of Nelsons ships stamped within them, with a bit of imagination you could see them as ships too.
Once back on the main road we walked the half mile into Baslow and as it was our last evening at Chatsworth we bought ourselves an evening meal in the The Wheatshef, a just reward for another 5 mile walk.
Darkness was starting to descend so we began our walk back through Chatsworth grounds and back to Pod. It was now a very different picture, all the snow had gone, not a patch to be seen. Have to say though we were pleased to still see our snow person and Pod still standing.
Last night in Pod and the rain decided to make an appearance and continued through the night, not the best end to our break as it meant a wet awning to deal with once home, but that’s part of ‘vanning so no big deal.
It did stop long enough in the morning to take the awning down and our poor little Snow Pod and person was definitely looking the worst for wear, but would we do it all again, you bet your bottom dollar/pound/euro we would.