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Summer 2024: Explore the Derbyshire Dales

Sheffield DA are delighted to return to Darley Dale once again in 2024 with our Temporary Holiday Site running from Friday 5th to Sunday 22nd July.

Darley Dale is a superb base for exploring the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire, from Matlock to Bakewell and beyond. Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall are within fifteen minutes drive with buses serving all within walking distance of the site. The more adventurous might head for the remote villages of Winster, Birchover and beyond to Stanton Moor. This peaceful site enjoys panoramic views of the surrounding hills along with heritage steam locomotives chugging casually by and halting at Darley Dale station.

View of Darley Dale THS from Stanton Moor

The site at Four Lane Ends is conveniently located with bus routes directly to the towns of Matlock and Bakewell and also provides routes up to the remote hillside villages of Stanton in the Peak and Winster. Chatsworth is also served by direct bus route from the A6 at Darley Dale. Darley Dale Co-op store is located within a short walk of the site and is open 7am to 10pm, for convenient provisions.

The presence of the nearby A6 makes Darley Dale extremely accessible, however it is now possible for the cyclist or pedestrian to avoid this main route by taking the Derwent Valley Cycle Way, a 5 mile off-road trail from Matlock to Rowsley, which passes directly by the site. Walkers can also enjoy a slightly different perspective meandering to Rowsley or to Matlock via the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail, tracking the Derwent, including a gated road leading through meadow land from Darley Bridge to the ‘hidden’ village of Oker. Take a pause to enjoy the historic grade 2 listed Darley Bridge where the ancient packhorse crossing over the River Derwent dates back to the 16th Century: see the skilful flick of the fly fisherman wading in the gentle flow of the Derwent as they pursue Brown Trout or Grayling. The Square and Compass Inn is a popular spot for a bite to eat or to enjoy a pint of local best.

Whitworth Park adjacent to the site is a hidden gem and legacy of Victorian industrialist, Sir Joseph Whitworth. This pretty landscaped park offers gentle pathways around peaceful ornamental lakes which host bird and wildlife; facilities also include a children’s play area and sporting activities, all within strolling distance of Sheffield DA’s THS.

St Helen's Church

A further short walk out from the site to the right finds St. Helen's church at Churchtown, a grade 2 listed parish church dating back to the 12th Century and encompassing an ancient Yew tree, reputed to be over 2,000 years old with a girth of 33 feet! Wander further through Churchtown to the railway level crossing and see the heritage junction box in operation, have a friendly word with the signal master and he might just invite you up for a tour. The Church Inn beyond the crossing offers a good range of real ales in a traditional setting.

Stanton Moor rises above Darley Dale and provides breathtaking views over the Derwent Valley. The Moor is also the site of Bronze Age stone circles and barrows, the most famous and preserved being the Nine Ladies which comprises nine upright stones, each of local millstone grit and less than a metre high. The site is easily accessible and occasionally frequented by Druids and Pagans, particularly to celebrate the Solstice.

Further afield, the Monsal Trail provides another traffic-free leisure trail that follows the route of the former Midland Railway to Chee Dale via a series of tunnels and viaducts as it cuts a spectacular 8.5 mile route through iconic Derbyshire countryside.

Chatsworth needs little introduction, historically significant and spectacular home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, having been passed through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. Chatsworth today is very much a working stately home and estate where the Duke can often be seen at events and around the Park, supporting and directing work. Chatsworth can be enjoyed on many levels and the visitor would be wise to plan a few days to appreciate this stunning feature of Derbyshire.

The 1,000 acres of Chatsworth Park are free for visitors to roam what is a varied mix of parkland, woodland and farmland landscaped to a great extent by Capability Brown, including straightening the river! The woodland stretches above the House to the east and is host to the 16th Century Hunting Tower.

Chatsworth House is a must for any visitor to this area with 126 rooms, 30 of which are open to visitors to view including the famous Painted Hall, State Rooms, Sketch Galleries and magnificent Sculpture Gallery which accommodates ancient Roman and Egyptian works dating back over four centuries.

Chatsworth Garden dates back to the late 17thCentury and has evolved over the years under the direction of famous landscape architects including perhaps the most iconic, “Capability” Brown. The Gardens have to be experienced to appreciate their majesty, however it is worth highlighting the Cascade and the famous eruption of water that is the Emperor Fountain, which are ingeniously fed by gravity from lakes set in Estate woodland above the House.

Historians will appreciate a visit to Haddon Hall, a fortified medieval manor house, dating back to the 12th Century and having retained much of its period features; the Hall has played host to numerous period TV and film dramas including “Jane Eyre”, "Elizabeth” and "Pride & Prejudice”. Haddon Hall is reported to be “the most perfect house to survive from the middle ages” in a book called “England’s Thousand Best Houses” by the author and newspaper columnist, Simon Jenkins. Top tip is to plan your visit on a Monday for a free guided tour of this dramatic location.

Interestingly, Haddon Hall has its own railway tunnel! The Haddon Tunnel was constructed to hide the railway from the view of the owner of Haddon Hall, the Duke of Rutland, by the Midland Railway in 1863 when extending the Railway from Rowsley to Buxton. The line was closed in 1968 under the now infamous Dr Beeching programme of cuts and although various stretches of the line are now re-purposed for leisure, the Haddon Tunnel remains derelict but intact today. The Midland Railway line ran between Manchester Central and London St Pancras but today it is still possible to travel a 4-mile stretch of restored steam heritage railway between Rowsley South Station and Matlock. Peak Rail operates services throughout the year and the nostalgic visitor to the Sheffield DA THS will enjoy both vintage steam and diesel engines passing the site and can take a Peak Rail train to Rowsley or Matlock from Darley Dale station.

Heading along the A6 towards Belper, Crich Tramway Village is always a popular attraction, the visitor will be be transported back in time travelling on vintage trams or soaking up the atmosphere of days gone by in the period street recreation, with a visit to the shops or refreshments from the tearooms and in the Red Lion pub.

The Great British Car Journey is an exciting new visitor attraction which opened in Summer 2021 just long the A6 at Ambergate, Derbyshire, just 20 minutes drive from SDA's Darley Dale Holiday site. The attraction has carefully curated a selection of vehicles made in Britain which changed the world for good, starting in 1921 and weaving an automotive narrative through to the 1980's. See the exhibits including Ford Cortina, MGB, Ford Capri, Mini, Ford Fiesta, Austin Metro, Triumph TR7 and even Rolls Royce, Elton Johns's Bentley and the McLaren 650s. Take the opportunity to drive a selection of these classic models: advance booking advised.

The famous market town of Bakewell sits on the banks of the River Wye, around 6 miles from the site along the A6. Monday is notable for Bakewell's popular outdoor and livestock market. The medieval five-arched bridge over the Wye is one of the oldest of its type in the country, said to date back to the 13th Century. The town offers a wealth of shops and boutiques for the visitor to discover as they enjoy exploring the courtyards and lanes; not forgetting a stop-off at the famous Bakewell Pudding shop to sample this local delicacy.

The county town of Matlock lies just three miles from Darley Dale and offers shopping and supermarkets with Matlock railway station providing direct connections to Matlock Bath, Derby and beyond. The popular Hall Leys Park has served the town since the late 19th Century and has recently received the Green Flag Award for the eleventh consecutive year. The park boasts a boating lake, skate park, tennis courts, children’s play area, children's splash pad and even a miniature railway!

Proceeding along the A6 and following the River Derwent is the ‘resort’ town of Matlock Bath. Developed as a Victorian spa, the town follows the river cut through a narrow gorge, which led the visitor Lord Byron to refer to Matlock Bath as “little Switzerland”. Tourism is still the beating heart of the town with attractions including the Heights of Abraham complete with cable car access and Gulliver's Kingdom theme park or the chance to discover local industrial heritage at the Peak District Lead Mining Museum. Often described as an 'inland seaside resort', complete with amusement arcades and fish and chips, at weekends Matlock Bath is a must for the motorcycle enthusiast as the A6 roars to the sound of engines as bikers flock to the town to hang out and proudly show off their machines.

Sheffield DA’s Temporary Holiday Site at Four Lane Ends, Darley Dale, runs from Friday 5th to Sunday 22nd July 2024. £11.50 per unit night, £3.00 extra adult night. Booking requested:

Further reading:

Sheffield DA THS Darley Dale

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