12 ways to spend the perfect Valentine's Day in Derbyshire
PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:35 09 February 2016
From steam train rides to a night at the cinema, our pick of some of the best places to see and things to do in Derbyshire and the Peak District for Valentine's Day
Take a nostalgic railway trip
When you think of steam train rides, it immediately evokes a romantic vision of times gone by. At Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, visitors can journey along a line stretching from the charming market town of Wirksworth – with its traditional shops, pubs and cafes – to the pleasant village of Duffield, where there’s a number of shops, places to eat and the enchanting Eyes Meadow. On 14th February, the venue’s Valentine’s Day experience includes a return journey between Wirksworth and Duffield on board one of the heritage trains (departing 11am), a drinks reception served on the way back to Wirksworth before lunch – a luxury meal for two served in our Pullman on arrival at Wirksworth at 1pm. Other heritage railways include Peak Rail – where you can take a nostalgic trip on the former Midland Railway line between Rowsley and Matlock – and the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley - home to a unique collection of steam and diesel trains, with special events and a country park.
Tour in a vintage car
Nothing could be more romantic than touring scenic country lanes with your loved one and Vintage Adventure Tours offers a completely unique way to travel – in an open-topped 1929 vintage car. With knowledgeable guidance from driver Steven White and the option to include a picnic of local produce, it’s an ideal opportunity to take in the area’s wonderful vistas. Routes encompass a huge variety of local sights from isolated country lanes to idyllic ruins and stately homes. Themed tours include ‘Mr Darcy’s Dales’, ‘Up Hill and Down Dale’, and ‘Farm Gates and Homemade Cake’.
Take to the sky
For the ultimate bird’s eye view of the county, a helicopter pleasure flight is an experience you’ll never forget. Themed flights from Pleasure Flights Ltd include the Chatsworth Tour, the famous Dambuster’s Run, Historic Houses and the Monsal Trail. Love is in the air!
Spend the day at Tissington
One of Derbyshire’s most quintessentially English estate villages offers the perfect backdrop for a romantic trip. Wander the pretty village centre, enjoy afternoon tea at Herbert’s Tea Rooms, visit the early 17th century Tissington Hall, pay a visit to the unique candle-making workshop On a Wick and a Prayer and satisfy your sweet tooth at the delightful Edward & Vintage sweet shop, which stocks a mouth-watering variety of sweets, chocolates and fudges stored in traditional glass bottles.
Visit Castleton’s caverns - and purchase some Blue John
Guarding the entrance to the scenic Winnats Pass gorge, charming Castleton is a magnet for tourists in summer and is one of the most beautiful villages in the Peak. Peveril Castle – with its 12th century keep - crowns the ridge above, and the bedrock below is riddled with show caverns. Travel to the Bottomless Pit by boat at Speedwell Cavern, see the largest natural cave entrance in Europe at Peak Cavern and discover the home of the famous Blue John stone at Treak Cliff Cavern. Blue John jewellery, ornaments and decorations can be purchased at gift shops in the village - the perfect memento of your visit.
Spend a weekend on the Chatsworth Estate
If you’re searching for a short break or a romantic weekend away with a difference, the collection of idyllic self-catering cottages on the Chatsworth Estate tick all the right boxes. Each cottage has a unique atmosphere, an iydllic location and stunning interiors - many of which have been renovated by the Duchess of Devonshire. Choices include the Russian Cottage, with beautiful views across the Calton Lees Valley; the imposing Hunting Tower, located 400 feet above Chatsworth House on the edge of Stand Wood; and the romantic Swiss Cottage, overlooking its own lake.
Stay the night at North Lees Hall
Built in 1590 by the famous Elizabethan architect Robert Smythson, North Lees is believed to have been the inspiration for Charlotte Bronte’s depiction of Thornfield Hall, home of Mr Rochester, in Jane Eyre. Charlotte is believed to have visited the Eyre family - the building’s former tenants - while staying in Hathersage in 1845. The fine stone hall, with mullioned windows and battlements, is now self-catering apartments.
Cross the stepping stones at Dovedale
This beautiful limestone dale is one of the most popular natural features in the Peak District National Park and attracts over a million visitors per year. Owned by the National Trust, the ravine runs for three miles from Milldale in the north to Thorpe Cloud in the south. Cross the famous stepping stones and climb to the top of Thorpe Cloud to enjoy magnificent views. Also worth visiting is nearby Ilam – famous for its charming Alpine-style cottages, historic Hall and iconic cross.
Cruise along Chesterfield Canal
Beginning at Tapton Lock, this special cruise on 14th February first explores the beautiful, wooded south-western section of the canal, before travelling around the outskirts of Brimington, past Bluebank Wood and its lock and on towards Hollingwood, where you leave the boat for a special Valentine’s Lunch. After that it’s down through the lock and into Staveley Town Basin. Then, after a short tour, the boat returns to arrive in Chesterfield at around 4pm. Tapton Lock Visitor Centre, 01629 533020, www.chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk
Enjoy Champagne breakfast in Melbourne
Start your trip to the ancient South Derbyshire market town of Melbourne with Champagne breakfast in the modern, sophisticated surroundings of the Bay Tree Restaurant. Start with home-made muesli, berry and maple crunch or buttery kedgeree with natural smoked haddock and salmon, followed by a hearty English breakfast grill; beef hash with seasoned boiled brisket; ham and Gruyère buckwheat crêpes; or poached haddock. The venue is also open for lunch and evening meals, with a focus on European/Asian fusion food. Then stretch your legs with a leisurely stroll around the 20-acre Melbourne Pool in the centre of the village, overlooked by the idyllic Melbourne Hall.
Dine at Fischer’s at Baslow Hall
Renowned for its fine food, Fischer’s is the only restaurant in Derbyshire and the Peak District to hold a Michelin star – so it is certainly a special place to take your loved one. Located in the elegant surroundings of Baslow Hall, at the top of a winding chestnut-tree-lined driveway, the restaurant serves classic English dishes with an exciting twist and a focus on local produce.
Spend a night at the cinema
If you’re looking for a cosy night at the movies with a twist, look no further than the charming ‘indie’ cinema at Belper Ritz. On the site of the original Ritz cinema which closed after 72 years in 1991, the movie theatre has been restored to its former glory and stylish décor and sofa seating all add to the experience, along with high quality refreshments. The ‘twilight suppers’ served at the Fresh Ground bistro opposite and the Italian cuisine at Café Nonno’s around the corner give the perfect excuse to make a full night of it. In Wirksworth, an equally attractive offering for film fans can be found at the Northern Light Cinema. Tucked away in the old Malthouse on North End, the cosy venue includes a bar serving a range of tapas style food.