In May 2021, as hotels were re-opening and we were finally allowed the absolute joy of a staycation, our first choice for the bank holiday weekend was The Peak District – far enough from home it felt like a holiday, but not too far that we’d spend the whole time in the car. Our base for the stay was Bakewell, and then we added on a third day exploring Castleton (post HERE). Set to a backdrop of beautiful hills, walks and quaint houses and shops, Bakewell makes the perfect base to see some of the Peak District’s best attractions. I’ve put them in to a laid back itinerary for the perfect 2 day stay.
Day 1 – Bakewell and The Monsal Trail
A. Bakewell Bridge
Start the day with an early morning stroll along the river in Bakewell. You’ll pass the love lock bridge and then come to the Bakewell Bridge, a grade I listed stone bridge that crosses the River Wye. Here you can get some lovely views up and down the river and feed the ducks whilst having some breakfast on one of the many benches lining the river path.
B. Bakewell Town Hall and Almshouses
The Bakewell Almshouses are special, having been founded by St. John’s Hospital in 1602 for the poor. They’ve been renovated and restored and are absolutely beautiful. Also in the area is the town hall and a few lovely little lanes of gorgeous cottages.
C. All Saints Church
Sitting on the hill, Bakewell’s parish church is imposing and beautiful. The church was founded in 920 during the Anglo-Saxon times, and the churchyard still has two 9th Century crosses. You can still find Anglo-Saxon stonework in the porch and in some ancient stone coffins – amazing!
D. Bakewell Pudding
Bakewell is most famous for its dessert variety tarts. But did you know the Bakewell tart was actually originally a Bakewell Pudding? And you can sample said original pudding in The Bakewell Pudding Shop in the heart of the town. Now, disclaimer – I am allergic to almonds so can’t eat said puddings and have no idea if they’re nice or not, but people assure me they are.
E. Little Longstone
At this point of the day, it’s time to head out of Bakewell and on to Monsal Head car park, around a 15 minute drive. From there, stroll in to Little Longstone to enjoy the pretty cottages and beautiful church, before indulging in a delicious pub lunch at The Packhorse Inn. We timed it for a Sunday and enjoyed an incredible roast.
F. The Monsal Trail
The Packhorse Inn is the start point of an amazing walk which takes in one of the Peak District’s most famous walks – the Monsal Trail. The route is constructed from an old railway line which connected Manchester and London on the Midland Railway from 1863 to 1968. Once closed, the old railway route was converted to a walking/cycling trail which is 8.5km in length.
Instead of walking straight along the trail, we decided to complete the route as shown HERE. This gave us a bit of variety – partially along the trail, across the viaduct, through tunnels, climbing for stunning ridge views and rambling along the river to take in waterfalls. Overall the route we took was around 5 miles and took us 2.5 hours to complete.
After finishing the walk we were exhausted so collapsed in a pub with a drink and an ice-cream, before heading back to our hotel to freshen up and head out for dinner.
Day 2 – Chatsworth
Chatsworth House lies a 15 minute drive from the centre of Bakewell, and is a must see on any visit to this area of the Peak District – especially as it’s often voted as Britain’s favourite country house. The house you see today was built in the 1500s, and during that century, Mary Queen of Scots was even held here. Since the mid 1600s, the house has been open for people to see despite being a residential home right up to the present day, with 16 generations of the Devonshire’s calling it home.
There is so much to do on site, and we easily filled a whole day.
A. Explore the parkland
Our first stop was a loop around the parkland in front of the house, taking in the views full of sheep and across the river and bridge down to the main house. In total we spent about 1 hour strolling around. It’s really important to do this first thing because by about 10.30am the whole grass area in front of the house was covered in cars as it’s the overflow carpark.
B. Tour the house
After a short walk, we then went in to the House. You have to book timed entry, which run in 15 minute entry slots. You can then tour around a set route in the house, taking in the grand stair case, beautiful wood panelled rooms and more chandeliers than you can shake a stick at.
C. Enjoy the gardens
Chatsworth’s gardens are really something special. There are acres of stunning formal gardens, including waterfalls, ravines, a big maze, caves and kitchen gardens. My favourite area is the long pool with a fountain in it, looking to the back of the House – it’s a really beautiful view and a great spot to sit and take everything in.
D. Indulge in afternoon tea
Chatsworth has a number of eating options, ranging from pizza food truck, to café bites, all the way through to formal afternoon tea. We decided to treat ourselves and book afternoon tea in The Flying Childers restaurant. Dress code is relaxed, but the restaurant itself is beautiful. I particularly loved the posh china and the tea was actually the best tea I’ve ever had and I drank the whole pot. To start, they bring you salmon, followed by a variety of finger sandwiches, followed by a stack of sweet treats including two scones each and delicious desserts. You can also choose to have champagne with it, or order other drinks from the bar.
E. Hike to the Hunting Tower
After afternoon tea, it was time for the final walk of the holiday – a short 15 minute hike up to Chatsworth’s Hunting Tower. This Tower is now actually an Airbnb, but the views from the top and the tower itself are beautiful. We sat up there with a final drink, before heading back to our car and heading home after a wonderful weekend away.
So that brings an end to 2 days in and around Bakewell. If you have longer for your stay in the Peak District, then add on a visit to Castleton, another picture perfect town in this amazing region.
Thanks so much for reading – I really hope you’ve enjoyed it and perhaps been encouraged to visit. Stay safe and happy travelling everyone.