The Manifold Beauty of the Derbyshire Dales

The season’s properly started at last and traditionally we go away for the May Day Bank Holiday weekend. Our other tradition is that we leave it late to book anywhere and end up back at Eardisland and a trip to the Antiques Fair in Bullith Wells.

This year though was different and Alison had booked us into an area I know hardly at all; the Derbyshire Dales. We opted to go down on Thursday (the joys of semi-retirement) and stay over until Tuesday (ditto). After a couple of issues booking (yes, we mean you, Rowson House Farm), we got ourselves into Bank House Farm in Hulme End.

The site has a river running through it and a pub nearby – perfect.


We arrived about 3pm after a relatively clear run down the M6 and set to work putting up the Glawning – we’ve got it sorted now (or Alison has anyway!) so we were soon set up.


A quick walk down the Manifold Trail with Boris and then up to the Manifold Inn for food and drink.

The food was good, the ale even better and apart from struggling to get to the bar, which was occupied by contractors working at the rear of the pub, it was everything we needed.


There were only three of us on the site on Thursday, including a Swiss lady travelling in a small motor home with her labrador.

On Friday we drove to Bakewell and pottered around the shops, hoping to find a dog friendly cafe – no luck though, so we had to sit outside to eat. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but there was a strong, cold wind blowing and it took a while to find somewhere that was sheltered and sunny.

The River Wye runs through Bakewell and has massive trout in it – they’re obviously used to being fed as they hang around under the bridge in full view.

The bridge itself has been turned into a Derbyshire Pont Vecchio, with padlocks and lovers messages.


Obviously, we had to eat a Bakewell Tart whilst we were there, but apparently the more local dish is a Bakewell Pudding which we saw in some local bakeries. To be honest, I was underwhelmed by its appearance, so we didn’t bother.





One of the attractions of the area is the number of well signed walks of all different types. On the way back from Bakewell we stopped at Lathkill Dale to walk Boris.


A Derbyshire Well




The walk was perfect – down into the valley, with few people around and no livestock, so Boz could be off the lead.

Back to Absinthe, then and onward to Hartington, a small picturesque village not far from Hulme End. We had a quick stroll around, bought some food for Saturday and headed back to camp.

After a lazy morning on Saturday, we drove to Dovedale for another walk, down another dale. The weather was showery and the walk was extremely busy as you’d expect on a Bank Holiday weekend, I guess.


Rush hour in Dovedale



As we got back and into the van, the heavens opened, so we popped the kettle on and ate the pies and pasties we’d bought the day before. Surely, this is one of the joys of a Campervan. A brew, some food and Radio 4 – what more could you want?

Back at the campsite we lit the Frontier Stove and I cooked pasta for our evening meal on it, and we drank wine until our eyes bulged. Lovely. The evning was finished off with a few episodes of Forbrydelsen before sleep.

I say sleep, but actually both nights so far, had been disturbed by two things. One, it was flipping cold at night and, two, we were sharing the bed with a thrutching schnauzer! The forecast was warmer for the rest of the weekend, so we were hopeful of catching up on a few hours kip later.

It’s cold, Dad (and muddy, apparently, too!)

The forecast for Sunday was for rain so we headed to Matlock to satisfy Mrs B’s retail desires. On the subject of her desires (steady on…), I’m delighted to report that Alison has stopped smoking and has been “clean” for nearly two weeks – well done her!

I’ve never been to Matlock before, so when we saw a sign that said Matlock Bath, I assumed we were there. I was wrong.

Matlock Bath is a whole different kettle of fish (there’s an Aquarium full, if you’re interested). Actually, make that a whole different kettle of fish and chips, because we counted at least 8 chip shops on the main street. It was bit like a small inland Blackpool – complete with rock for sale. We didn’t stay long.

Matlock Bath

We drove on to Matlock proper, not far down the road, and it was more to Alison’s taste, by which I mean it had loads of vintage and craft shops for her to browse in, whilst I had to stand outside with a grumpy schnauzer.




Riber Castle, above Matlock

We stopped off at the Tissington Trail on the way back, for tea and cake in the van, and to give Bozzer more of a walk.  The trail follows the former Ashbourne to Buxton railway line and is very popular with walkers and cyclists. Boz and I headed off the main path into Ruby Wood (a sign said the last few trees were planted by the Rochdale Cowboy himself, Mike Harding, although I’ve got no idea why).






We had another walk around Hartington on the way back to camp. Actually, I was in search of the usual photos of Absinthe and wanted one next to the village pond.



Sunday evening meant more cooking (chicken curry a la Frontier Stove), more wine and more of The Killing.



We had a visit over the weekend from Emma, Andy and their Van, Adie. They live not far away and had spotted that we were staying in Hulme End from my regular Facebook postings, so popped over to say hello.


There was another Danbury on site, but the owners were parked in a different field across the road so I didn’t get chance to speak to them.

It was quite a Danbury spotting weekend, because we’d seen one in Matlock and left a Forum card, plus one of Absinthe’s – I was really pleased to get an email from Molly’s owner in response.



Absinthe’s calling card

Monday was a day to stay local so we decided to walk the Manifold Track to the tea rooms at Wetton Mill and to visit Thor’s Cave. It was a lovely day and we had a great walk, although we failed to find Thor’s Cave! Maybe next time.




Thor’s Cave – next time we’ll find it!

The forecast was for rain to arrive on Monday evening so we wisely packed the Glawning away on Monday afternoon – boy, were we glad that we did, as the rain was torential later on.

We had our last night in the pub and chilled with a bit more Killing.

Back in the Manifold Inn
Red sky at night meant rain this time
Tuesday was a day for finishing packing and driving home from a fantastic weekend – I can’t wait to get away again.


Packed and ready to go

Things we’ve learned:
*It can be a tad chilly overnight in May
*Drinking wine from a wine box is likely to exponentially increase your intake
*I’d rather have a tart than a pudding
*Derbyshire’s a lovely county (but it isn’t Yorkshire)
*Boris is prepared to take on all-comers in Dovedale – many tried, many failed…
*Having Baked Brie for starters, followed by Scampi is fine. Having a side order of Onion Rings and  4 pints, is a bridge too far…
*Hot ashes from a Frontier Stove can burn though a protective mat, a rug and all the way to a groundsheet
*Driving home over the Cat & Fiddle when it’s blowing a hooley is a challenge, even for Mrs B
*Charging up the solar lights in our conservatory before the trip is a great idea and even better if you remember to pack them in the van before you set off

There’s a full set of pics here: Flickr

As always your comments would be much appreciated.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, so grab a pew and I'll make you a brew - Hobnob or Bourbon?

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