10 of the most romantic places to visit in Derbyshire and the Peak District
PUBLISHED: 09:30 09 February 2016 | UPDATED: 19:03 08 January 2018
Follow in the footsteps of legendary and literary greats, and create your very own love story amidst Derbyshire’s beautiful landscape, historic buildings and pretty villages
Often referred to as one of the ‘finest houses to survive the Middle Ages’, Haddon Hall has charm in abundance and the story of the elopement of John Manners and Dorothy Vernon from the Hall is one of the Peak’s most romantic tales. Founded in the 12th century, the Hall was expanded and remodelled throughout medieval times and attractive features include a splendid Long Gallery and terraced gardens. It is believed that Dorothy Vernon, daughter of Haddon’s owner Sir George Vernon, eloped with John Manners, son of the 1st Earl of Rutland, in 1563. Sir George allegedly disapproved of the match – so according to legend, the young Dorothy ran away with her lover during a party at the Hall. Haddon has also been the backdrop for numerous romantic blockbusters on television and film – including adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. Bakewell DE45 1LA, www.haddonhall.co.uk
The wild, windswept grit-stone edges that overlook Hathersage found fame on the big screen as the scenic spot where Elizabeth Bennett (played by Keira Knightley) dreamed of Mr Darcy in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice. Renowned for its excellent rock-climbing, it’s also a popular location for walkers who can stroll whilst enjoying the spectacular far-reaching views.
One of Derbyshire’s most famous beauty spots, Monsal Head is renowned for its magnificent views down Monsal Dale and up the Wye valley. With the river far below, winding through a steep-sided and often rocky valley, the idyllic panorama is interrupted by the imposing - yet awe-inspiring - Monsal Viaduct that once carried the Midland Railway line. The route of the former railway now forms part of the Monsal Trail - a much-loved, relatively flat route for walkers and cyclists.
The beautiful limestone dale – famous for its stepping stones - is one of the most popular natural features in the Peak District National Park and attracts over a million visitors per year. But visiting on a quiet day is when the area’s true beauty can be fully appreciated. The ravine runs for three miles from Milldale in the north to Thorpe Cloud in the south and provides the perfect backdrop for a waterside romantic stroll. The area’s beauty caught the eye of poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850), who described the ‘romantic spiry rocks…’ and ‘streamy glittering splendour’. Eagle-eyed film fans will have spotted Dovedale in The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), starring Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. Thorpe, Ashbourne, www.nationaltrust.org.uk
The ‘jewel in the Peak District’s crown’ is also one of the area’s most romantic locations. Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth’s glorious surroundings include a 1,000 acre park on the banks of the River Derwent, designed by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s and often referred to as one of the most beautiful and historic man-made landscapes in Britain. Enjoy a romantic picnic in the park by the river, on the Salisbury Lawns in the gardens, or by the magnificent Emperor Fountain. Inside, there are over 30 rooms to explore, including regal State Rooms, the Painted Hall and sculpture gallery. Bakewell DE45 1PP, www.chatsworth.org
With its peeling paintwork, abandoned stables and overgrown courtyard, Calke Abbey has been carefully preserved in a state of decay by the National Trust. A visit to the Grade I listed house is like stepping inside a time capsule and visitors can discover the tales of an eccentric family who amassed a vast collection of treasures, explore the ‘faded’ walled gardens, wander the vast ancient parkland and spot the ‘Old Man of Calke’ - a 1,200-year-old oak tree. National Trust, Ticknall, DE73 7LR, www.nationaltrust.org.uk
Bradford Dale and Lathkill Dales
With their clear blue waters, which cascade over a succession of small weirs, and their abundance of wild flowers and water-based birdlife, Lathkill Dale and Bradford Dale are two of the most beautiful valleys in the Derbyshire Dales. And the rivers that flow through them are two of the most elusive, because they have a habit of disappearing underground for long stretches and even drying up altogether in times of severe drought. The unspoilt scenery provides the ideal backdrop for a romantic walk and Coalpit Bridge at Lathkill Dale is one of the prettiest packhorse bridges in the Peak - providing a perfect photo opportunity.
Lyme Hall and Park, Disley
On the northern tip of the Peak District, Lyme Park is one of the area’s most recognisable television backdrops, achieving immortality as the location for ‘that’ famous lake scene starring actor Colin Firth, who emerged dripping wet in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice (1995). The lake stands in front of the fine Italianate house, restyled by Venetian architect Leoni and now owned by the National Trust. Highlights in the Park include an Edwardian rose garden and 170-year-old-plus giant red camellias. Disley SK12 2NR www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lyme
The Manifold Valley
Boasting some of the county’s finest scenery, the Manifold Valley is renowned for its pretty villages and quiet lanes. For a romantic walk or bike ride, the Manifold Track follows the old route of the disused Leek and Manifold Light Railway. It stretches for just over eight and a half miles from Waterhouses to Hulme End, and all but two miles are traffic-free and shared by walkers, cyclists and pony-trekkers. There are many paths and bridleways linking the Manifold Track to the surrounding limestone plateau where visitors can explore the rugged landscape and picturesque villages. Highlights include Thor’s Cave - approximately 250 feet up from the Track, where a steep walk is rewarded by spectacular views – plus the pretty villages of Alstonefield, Warslow and the charming village of Ilam with its Swiss chalet-style houses.