Friday, 13 November 2015


We tend to keep our visits to Chatsworth for the grim, grey months of winter when access is easier than on the small, side roads that have a tendancy to remain icy throughout the day. But this time we were on the hunt for autumn colour, and PC suggested Chatsworth, so here we are on a crisp morning with a blue sky overhead and, if the trees in the car park are anything to go by, plenty of colour to see.


This is an all-too familiar walk to us, probably just as well since I can't find the map anywhere. I know when I used it last - to write the last blog post - but I seem to have misplaced it since then. At least it won't be much of a problem today.

Our first photos come from the garden centre car park (en route to the conveniences) where the displays of baskets and pots are a joy to see. Then we head off down through the small wood to join the road, over the bridge then right onto the footpath through the field. Fortunately today there are no cows, though there are sheep aplenty. 

There are quite a few walkers about, although it isn't half term in Derbyshire yet it is in other parts of the country, so there are plenty of holidaymakers to add to the locals who have been tempted out by the sunshine. We pause while PC takes off her coat, it really has warmed up, then watch a buzzard soaring high above us. 

We continue along the field, cross the main road and walk up the lane at the side of Beeley church and into the village. A right hand then a left hand turn and we are on the quiet lane flanked by stone houses. This leads us past some interesting chicken coops, then a slight incline as we pass the turning to Moor Farm and head straight on along the narrow path next to the hedge which leads to a stile and gate. Once past this we are flanked by a steep field to our left and woods behind a wall on our right. 

There seems to be a choice here, into the woods or continue along the wall. We always go into the woods (Beeley Plantation) so do the same again. There is a stone stile, a very high one, in the wall but fortunately the gate works easily. A much better option.


Once inside the wood we are enveloped by the wonderful scent that is peculiar to autumn: rich, earthy, damp and fragrant. What a pity it can't be bottled. The path is wide under the trees and we keep getting glimpses of colour through the branches. A group of children, with a couple of adults, come towards us so we step off the path to let them pass. One child is in a wheelchair which must have been awkward in some places along here.

Further on we come to the stream, Beeley Brook, which crosses theh path with there being a choice of rocky stepping stones or wet feet. Once at the other side we look back, and regret not taking a photo before, but we've kept our feet dry so aren't taking the risk again.

From here the path gets steeper and a little muddy, though in places it is either completely dry or boggy. We continue uphill, the stream is on our left now and quite a way below us, and we hope that our photos do it justice. 

One of the trees on our left catch our eye, it has some splendid bracket fungus growing on it so, naturally, we take photos. A couple of other walkers catch us up and exchange a few words before we move on and they take our place, camera in hand.

The path begins to level out eventually then sneakily zig-zags back on itself. Good job we remember our way. We climb a little more then once again the path levels and we find one of our 'familar' sitting places; a few rocks on the wooded slope.

So we settle down to enjoy a drink - ginger vodka today, a first attempt at making this and a definite success - and a coffee, as well as a natter. 

Time to press on, and too early for lunch, so we pack up and continue on our way, the path eventually leading us out of the woods and onto the rough unnamed road from Beeley Lodge. We cross this and we're on the Rabbit Warren, though no sign of rabbits today. The stile is a high one but we are feeling, and looking, surprisingly agile.

The walk across here gives wonderful far ranging views, and with the benefit of a clear sky and good weather we decide to sit on the edge to eat lunch. Sandwiches and our second coffee are consumed, along with fat choux buns oozing with cream. They are becoming a bit of a favourite.

It is very tempting to sit here all day, it isn't even particularly cold, but again we have to move on. Nearing the end of the Rabbit Warren there are cows next to the path though fortunately for me they don't even seem to notice us.

Another steep stile to clamber over, and the tree directly opposite (a magnificent beech) has more bracket fungus - so another photo opportunity.

Looking back from where we have come the tree arching over a gate and stile looks rather splendid, and it is a shame that the photo doesn't manage to do it justice.

We don't follow the main 'top' path that would eventually lead to the lakes but instead weave our way on small little used paths that skirt around and gradually descend.

There are certainly more people about now, these woods and paths are much closer to the main house and gardens, but we manage to avoid too many people .

We do get the occasional glimpses through the trees to the landscape of the park, and some of the straight avenues in the far trees that must have been planned so well without any hope of seeing them come to maturity.

By the time we reach the farmyard area and the path into the main house car park there are people everywhere.

We make our way through what feels like crowds, looking rather dishevelled and downbeat compared to most of them who are dressed for a day out visiting a smart house rather than hiking. But we get down to the bridge and start to enjoy the colour again.
The sheep appear oblivious of the views, their only interest being grass.

Once we are over the bridge and wandering along the grass at the side of the river we can see across to the house and gardens, and the woods behind are a tapestry of muted colours.
The house does look rather splendid in the autumnal light.
And the river appears tranquil.
We abandon the riverside and cross the parkland heading directly to our starting place. The colourful trees here stand out as they are not hemmed in by neigbours, so we manage a final 'fix' of colour before we reach the cars. All in all, today has turned out to be superb.

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