The Cavendish Hotel on the Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire is an ideal base for exploring this beautiful part of Britain.
There are some hotels — many hotels — where the sight of a trio of men appearing late at night, soaked to the skin and smelling of river mud would prompt not so much the raising of eyebrows as a phone call to the local constabulary. Finding a dog-friendly place to stay is easy these days; fisherman-friendly is rather harder.
The Cavendish Hotel in the Derbyshire village of Baslow is one place, however, which promises that anglers on a weekend away will face no such trouble. Country Life sent a trio along earlier this year — Mark Hedges, David Profumo and Charles Rangeley-Wilson, respectively the magazine’s editor, fishing and motoring correspondents — to test them out, and found them as good as their word.
A good day’s fishing in the local area was, according to Charles, capped off by ‘the deliriously welcoming staff at the Cavendish, who didn’t mind a bit when we dumped a pile of soggy waders and nets for the drying room and enquired of the chance of ale.’
David equally impressed, reporting that a request for a late dinner in the garden room was cheerfully accommodated by ‘staff so polite you can hardly believe you’re in England.’
It’s not just a hotel for fishermen, however: this 18th century inn is relaxed, commodious and intimate, with 28 individually-decorated rooms, many featuring fireplaces, four-poster beds and artworks sourced from the Chatsworth Estate.
There’s plenty to see nearby: the towns of Buxton and Bakewell are rightly famous for their charm, while Chatsworth House and Bolsover Castle (see ‘Things to do’, below) are also within striking distance of The Cavendish. ‘It makes an ideal base for exploring this green-and-pleasant heartland,’ adds David.
Food and drink
The Gallery Restaurant is the Cavendish’s fine-dining option, with chef Adam Harper — poached last year from the Michelin-starred Fischer’s, in the village — serving up locally-sourced food in comfortable surroundings. Three courses are £55, and there’s also a £60 tasting menu.
For a more informal setting the Garden Room is a fine spot, especially on a summer’s evening, an ideal place for a steak and a bottle of wine at the end of a day in the Peak District.
There are also a couple of other options well worth a mention: the kitchen table, where up to four people can eat (and chat to the chef) while watching the behind-the-scenes work; and a champagne picnic for two if you’re exploring Chatsworth House and gardens, which costs £129 but includes the £24-per-person entrance tickets.
B&B for two people at The Cavendish Hotel, Baslow, starts from £180, or £290 including dinner. See more details at www.cavendishbaslow.co.uk or call 01246 582311.
During the winter, guests staying two nights can also book the ‘Secrets and Surprises’ package, which includes a guided tour of Chatsworth House by guide Shenagh Firth. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at the conservation work — from restoring gold leaf on wood carvings to deep-cleaning rare silk tapestries — which goes on at the house during the winter break when it’s closed to the general public. The cost is £249.50 per person for the two-night stay, including dinner allowance on both nights and the tour itself.
Things to do
Fishing is what drew our correspondents to this part of the world. For day tickets on the Cressbrook and Litton waters (£53), contact head river keeper Chris Dore (07835 371424; www.bookings.clff.co.uk). For the Peacock Fly Fishing Club (£75 to £150), contact Jan Hobot (07718 636128: www.thepeacockatrowsley.com/fishing.
Chatsworth House is justly regarded as one of the finest houses in Britain, a spectacular building which houses an astonishing collection of treasures been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. There are events held throughout the year, but the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show is without doubt one of the highlights — in 2020, it runs from 11-14 June.
The house is closed to the public as of November 10 until the Spring, but guests staying for a couple of nights at the Cavendish (or one of the other estate properties) can take advantage of a ‘Secrets and Surprises’ guided tour during these winter months. Small groups are shown around for a behind-the-scenes look at the restoration work which goes on during the winter.
See www.chatsworth.org for details on the house or www.cavendishbaslow.co.uk for more about the ‘Secrets and Surprises’ tours.
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