On Saturday, after camping over for the night just outside of Bakewell in the Peak District, we enjoyed a wonderful family day out at Chatsworth House. I have wanted to visit for such a long time (since first seeing Pride and Prejudice) and have known since then that if I went to Chatsworth house, I would simply love it (and I did)! This post however, isn’t about how much I loved it – that’s a given as I have such a fondness for stately homes! No, this post is a review on how much I loved it as a location for a family day out and how it was to visit with kids. And, in that regard I can already tell you that it was great –  we had a lovely day!

The house 

Chatsworth house has an incredible history. It is currently home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. The house is open to the public, but you only walk around a portion of it – which is enough to appreciate its history and grandeur. It took us about 90 mins or maybe more to take a tour, which led us through the main hall, gallery’s, bedrooms, Library, dining room, hallways and staircase.

It is impressive as soon as you enter the gates and the kids loved the architecture and majesty of the house. They noticed the statues and small carvings in the stone, were interested in how it was made, and then once inside loved looking around at the grand ceilings, staircase and rooms. I love visiting places like this with the kids because they always notice and find fascination in things we tend to overlook. And it was these small things that made the visit more enjoyable, interesting and exciting for them too.

For Ethan it was the grandfather clock in the corner of a hallways that people rushed passed, and a small set of cutlery in a case in front of the piano, that contained so much detail that he said it “was so fancy”!

Megan on the other hand took great interest in the key art and stood for ages looking at the intricate details of the various keys. She also enjoyed walking the stairs like a queen and seeing the thrones that were given to the family from the monarchy.

We all loved the ceiling paintings which adorned most rooms, and hearing the amazing stories from those who worked there – like the one about the bed that Charles II was placed in after his death (would you stay there?!), and the one about how they found all of the signatures of the people that worked in the house on the walls when they started renovating ( 2 of many that make it such an exciting place to spend some time)!

The kids also spent a lot of time in the courtyard where they also have a fun foam building activity that helps them recreate some of the pottery they have seen in the house. They liked this part, and we enjoyed sitting out by the fountain and observing!

The House caters really well for kids – the staff are lovely and were eager to chat to them and help history come alive. Our kids enjoyed these little nuggets of information, as well as looking at the information cards in each room and going around to find out what they needed to know about the different people from history (that had some kind of influence), in order to collect all of the pocket cards that they have which is part of the experience for kids!

It is a beautiful, extremely interesting and exciting place to visit as a family!

* Please note that Chatsworth do not allow prams, pushchairs or rucksack style baby carriers in the house!

Gardens

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the gardens/park itself – it was a very hot day and the kids were eager to get up to the farm and have lunch. I am a little disappointed as they have very beautiful landscaping and statues that would be wonderful for any kid (or adult) to explore.

Later on though, Ethan and I returned to explore the green houses, a place he was eager to see! He is a budding gardener with his Grandma and enjoys looking at plants and how things work and the green houses were most impressive and certainly a little piece of adventure for him. I enjoyed exploring this tranquil part of the estate with my biggest boy and we both were impressed!

Farm/Playground

The farm was lovely and all of the animals were well cared for and happy. They have goats, pigs, horses and donkeys, sheep, cows, rabbits and guinea pigs and chickens. Whilst we were there they also had some newly born chicks and piglets; both of which were absolutely adorable and very exciting for the kids!

The farm really caters for little visitors, with a vintage tractor to climb on, to a tractor land for under 6’s and tractor tours for a couple of pounds! They have regular petting sessions in the Oak barn (like every 20-30 mins) and an opportunity to go into Guinea pig town and sit with the guinea pigs! It is a small farm but very happening!

You have to pay entry to the farm to access the playground and a family ticket for both of these costs £23, which is for 2 adults and 3 kids (thank you Chatsworth for being aware that some families have more than 2 kids!). Having had visited and seen all they have, I find this a really reasonable price for a family day out. Obviously if you choose to do the house and gardens, as well as the farm and playground, then you are looking at £65 for a family ticket (again 2 adults and 3 kids). Either way the farm and playground alone would make for a fantastic day out with a picnic.

The playground was definitely a favourite and was very welcomed by the kids after a morning around the house. It is unbelievable and was fantastic for them to run, jump and climb on after being so sensible! I was impressed by the size of it and how well planned out it was. It easily caters for tiny tots right up to young teens and has so many amazing things to it – you have to see it to believe it!

They have ropes and rope bridges, they have courses through the woods, multilevel frames that are mega high and teeny frames for the little ones. There is a trampoline and lots of slides.

We loved the sand and water area and the kids spent a chunk of time in there building with the sand and drawing water from the stream. The weather was lush and it was a beautiful part of the grounds that catered so well for younger visitors. I thinks its great that you can go to Chatsworth for the day and take the kids just to the farm and playground and that in itself would fill a whole day too!

Food!

There is a great array of food available at Chatsworth (and some rather classy dishes too!). They have a snack bar in the grounds of the house, 2 restaurants near the gift shop, and a cafe in the farm. They have a wide range on offer (including lots of local produce) and a kids lunch bag is £5 (you can choose 4 items – A sandwich, Drink, Crisps, Fruit or Yogurt). They also sell Ice creams in all of these places, as well as in the gift shops too.

I personally would stick to taking a picnic. They have several lovely assigned areas where you can eat it and as we were so busy with so much to see, it would have been cheaper and way more convenient to just nibble as we went or set up at a table in the playground so they could graze all afternoon whilst they play!

I think sometimes as parents we may look at the grandeur of a place like Chatsworth House and feel like taking our wild little ones wouldn’t be the best place or more stress than its worth to give them a cultural and historical experience. But having been with my 3 this last weekend, I cannot tell you enough what a great location it is for a family day out. It is full of wide open spaces, a house that becomes a treasure trove for kids – building imagination and takesing them into a different world. The whole place helps them appreciate history and offers a fun family adventure in the farm, gardens and playground.

If you are looking for somewhere special to take the kids this Summer then this would be first on my list! If you would like to plan a visit this Summer, then click here to see what they have on!

I really want to take them back again – perhaps when they are slightly older and don’t tire so easily in the heat! We didn’t see all we wanted to and even then we were there for the whole day!

I also want to go back to Chatsworth for the house and Gardens at Christmas time for myself. I have seen pictures and heard about it from friends and it looks incredible. I want to go without kids so that I can stroll round the Christmas market they have and do some shopping, as well as taking my time in the house to notice all of the festive details. But yes, we will definitely go back again as a family. If you are looking for an exciting adventure filled with outdoor fun and animals, a bit of history and imagination, then you should totally check it out this Summer. Its popular and a little busy but it was also totally fine. We spent 6 hours there and only left because we were so tired! But it gets 2 thumbs up from us all!

*We received complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review! Our visit was fantastic and all images and thoughts are our own! Thanks to Chatsworth for a wonderful family day out. 

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Growing up our family did a lot of camping. My Dad was an ex-scout and scout leader and loved the outdoors, and consequently shared this passion with his whole family. You could say it is in my blood, as according to family stories I have been camping since I was a baby! From my own memories I remember camping and walking in the Yorkshire dales, around the southern coast, Wales and the Lake District (lots in the Lakes). We went on many an adventure most school holidays, and whilst at times I whined as I became older, as a younger child I only remember how much fun it was. I loved exploring the mountains, the dales, swimming in rivers and cooking on little stoves. It was peaceful, beautiful and exciting, and a wonderful time with my sisters and family.

I have since becoming a mother of older children, contemplated time and time again over how much fun it would be for us all to go camping and create equally adventurous memories with them. Whilst I personally (and Nathan too) would always opt for a hotel or Airbnb over camping any day, there was something inviting and exciting about the prospect of getting into camping as a family and embracing the outdoors more than we already do. I thought that being in the outdoors together and camping in a tent would be enriching and the ultimate adventure – Camping is fun isn’t it? But I also thought it is such a cheap way to travel and so would enable us to see and do more in the world too. And so this last Friday we went for it – Our first family camp to the Peak District!

The Peak District 

The Peak District is such a stunning part of the UK. Located in central England it is home to a lot of wildlife, little English towns with famous produce (Hello bakewell and its tarts!) and has such lovely breathtaking scenery. It is a great spot for cycling and walking and also offers a lot of history too. It has been on my radar for a while because I wanted to visit either Buxton or Bakewell, as well as fulfill a bucket list goal of Chatsworth House with my very own Mr Darcy!

And so we decided on the Peak District and made Bakewell and Chatsworth our little weekend thing! We planned on one night camping and then a day at Chatsworth and home again on Saturday. We chose to keep it super basic as being first timers we didn’t want it to become a stressful thing and as it was also rather last minute, we were somewhat clueless. We booked one night at a little farm between Buxton and Bakewell which cost us £17! It had everything you needed – A simple field surrounded by animals and dry stone walls, and a tap, toilets and shower which were really handy too! The weather was dry (thankfully) and it was, aside from hyper kids, a really positive experience!

We arrived about 7pm and the tent was surprisingly easy to assemble and get up (I soon got back into it and took charge!). By 7.45pm the tent was up, the car unloaded and the beds all made up. As I say, we only went basic and so literally had the tent, sleeping bags/bedding, clean clothes and some snacks for brekkie the next day with us – It was just right!

After setting up camp it was lovely to be able to take a stroll down the lane in the evening sun and explore a little corner of the countryside. The kids loved seeing the sheep, goats and cows, and I loved the scenery, dry stone walls and feeling relaxed and free. I am constantly reminded in these moments how peaceful I feel when in the outdoors and how good for my mind and emotions nature is.

The kids took a while to settle that night due to crazy levels of excitement! But other than that we all slept really well and taking an airbed for Nath and I was an absolute dream! Camping in the Summer is enjoyable as it wasn’t even that cold, and it was beautiful to wake up to blue skies and the morning sun.

On Saturday morning I awoke about 6.30am which is unheard of for me at home! Blurry eyed I stumbled to the tent door and opened it back, then laid back down. It was so beautiful to just lay there and stare out onto the hills, sheep and a fresh Summers day. I had the words of “Be Still, My soul” running through my mind and I realised in the ordinary family moment just how much peace and joy I had – it was really great!

The kids soon arose with eagerness to get out and explore and we found that breaking camp was just as simple as building it. By 9.15am we had already packed up and left, and were in Bakewell (about 10 minutes away). We wandered its cute little streets, popped into a couple of charity shops and sampled some good old Bakewell tarts and then headed over to Chatsworth house for a day. There we had lots of fun soaking up it’s beauty and history. The whole little trip was exactly how I had imagined (minus a few nutty kids here and there) and it was all so lovely and quintessentially English!

Camping for the first time worked well for us and gets 2 thumbs up from us all (except Mr Smith that still needs converting!) and I am already planning our next one! This time we want to build up to 2 nights and try and cook outdoors!

I can’t help thinking about all of the incredible places we can go as a family around the UK and Europe on a budget if we can master the ropes of camping! How many more mornings we can greet the sun and be at one with nature. How many mountains we can show and take the kids up, and how many moments can be spent snuggled in a tent together and building family bonds away from everyday life!

This trip was so enriching for my soul, so fun for our family, and a wonderful little adventure filled with beauty! Roll on the next camping adventure we can’t wait for another!

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I am a little later than usual with my weekly round up of joyful moments from this last week – mainly because it has been such a busy and fantastic weekend I haven’t really had much time to sit and collect my thoughts. This week overall has been an incredibly hard one for me and in time I will go into more depth on that, but for now I am more than grateful that it ended on such a high, so many lovely moments shared together. We have enjoyed the kids sports day, football and a beach adventure!

The highlight this weekend (aside from our victory over Sweeden to qualify us for the Semi’s – how mint!) most certainly was our family expedition through the caves on Saturday evening. Kitted out in wetsuits, our little family joined my sisters family and our parents up at Thornwick Bay and together had a whole lot of fun swimming in the sea. We were seen climbing through the caves and “cliff jumping”, and It was a whole lot of fun/a rather epic moment!

Grateful For 

The beach makes me so happy, so to have the opportunity on Saturday to get into my wetsuit was a joyful moment I felt grateful to have. We went in the evening at low tide so the waters were calm and blue and the evening sun looked and felt lush. I felt truly grateful for Summer, for brave kids that were up for the adventure and for fun times with some of our family.

This week I have also been grateful for mum friends at school that get me and took time to chat about life! I am also very grateful for sisters and having a fab time on Thursday with 2 of them carbooting and ice cream eating. It was such a lovely day out and I am once again grateful to live close by them and the coast – so much more spontaneity in life as a result!

Succeeded At 

This week I succeeded at getting into my wetsuit after 2 years (too long) and loved it! Last year we never really took the opportunity to go caving and really missed the fun we have together up in the caves! I also succeeded at doing a tonne of laundry thanks to the glorious weather and succeeded at hitting up the car boot sale and finding some mega deals.

Found Beauty In 

A boat full of kids eagerly floating through the caves with us. My kids playing with Russian dolls whilst sat in their England tops watching the world cup! And, seeing the little kiddies at sports day running their little socks off – so cute!

I also found great joy and beauty in the continuously sunny days we’ve had, the beautiful coastline in the evening sun and seeing the Puffins line the cliffs!

This gorgeous weather has brought so many wonderful moments and I am feeling so happy that we are having a proper Summer – long may it continue.

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I never considered myself a country girl, but rather always thought of myself as a city dweller. My style and interests are mostly suited to urban living and growing up in a small seaside town I liked the idea of living in a place that was happening! I guess I always wanted to be somewhere rich in opportunity, culture and things to see and do day and night. I love to explore museums, shop, see cool architecture and eat out, and I couldn’t wait to break out into life and live in the big city.

I think Nathan found that all attractive too, and it was great that years down the line, what started as housemates and friends between 2 small town people, turned into dating, marriage and us creating a lovely life together in Leeds.

For possibly about 9 mostly great years (more for him), I lived in Leeds and found it to be a brilliant life in a fab Yorkshire city that I love. But then our kids started to grow up, and a fog of grief and tear stained memories hung over our home and the city we once loved and thrived in, held to much pain and bad memories. We felt trapped in someways and we both realized that the dream shifted. We fell out of love with city living and I suddenly found myself craving a slower pace of life surrounded by nature. We discussed at length where we might like to live next, and some days we felt drawn to the coast, on others it was smaller towns around Leeds… but in the end, and after several months of viewing houses all over Yorkshire, we both decided (and felt right about) a village location in East Yorkshire. The wolds are beautiful, the little market towns charming, and the coast and family are close by – it seemed the most appealing choice for what we wanted in this stage of life and so we headed home.

Last Summer we packed up and headed over here to start our new “Village Life” Chapter!

I of course then feared I might not like it. It was such a vast change, and whilst the idea sounded fabulous, I couldn’t help but wonder what life might be like going from such a bustling town on the edge of a City, into living in a small village surrounded by fields! Would we feel cut off? Would it be cliquey? Would we fit in and would it fit us? How would we get to the shops? What about emergency’s? Would a new school be good for the kids? Would we be bored?!

But now I see that all of that was minor because our neighbours are great and the village has a train line which means I can get to local towns in anything from 5 to 10 mins. I can get to the coast in about 25 minutes, and the City of Hull in about 40 minutes. I am surrounded by lovely people, there are local toddler groups, a farm shop and SPAR, and I do not feel cut off at all. Surprisingly I have actually found that since being here I enjoy not having shops nearby me or busy things. I like to be able to just wander – be that wandering home… wandering around the village green… wandering up to the farm shop or wandering over fields. I like that I have the option to stay in our village bubble enjoying the beauty and chilled pace, or venture out and be busy. I love the freedom to step out into fields within a couple of minutes and see little old churches, tractors and farm animals. I love to see the kids en mass riding their bikes to school and horses passing by our window on occasion. I love how everyone smiles and greets you, and how many birds we can hear 24 hours!

Yes it is lovely, and nothing to fear! In fact when we first drove into this village and onto this street I simply felt at peace – I knew this was where I wanted to live and that we could be happy here. Now after a whole year since leaving Leeds to start this new life in the country, I have to say it has been such a great and wonderful adventure, and we are happy here!

We have seen the village in all seasons now, and each one has brought with it excitement, beauty and joy. I love the traditions the village have and I love that because we are out in nature more we really get a feel for the season and can embrace it in its fullness! I have loved this huge change to our lives, and how we appreciate and find beauty in the smallest things around us now.

With 3 young nutty children and grief in our hearts, we desperately wanted somewhere that felt healing and peaceful to us. We wanted a place we could explore and enjoy in all seasons, and we wanted an adventure. We imagined a slower pace, less traffic and stress, and whilst some of that is still present (stress and busy lives), and we have a few things still to sort to fully live our dream here, overall life is just what we wanted and needed – slower, more peaceful and that wonderful feeling of being free in the outdoors!

Here’s what we love most about Village life in the 12 months we’ve being here

Peace – Despite the normal stress and craziness of being parents and having a busy family life, the first and biggest thing we noticed from living here was peace and quiet! We love the peace of village life – the sounds of nature and children playing, and we love the peace in our hearts that we have found somewhere to raise our family that feels so right!

Community – The community spirit and incredible friendliness of the people here caught me off guard initially – people in cities just aren’t so chatty and I found it odd that so many people wanted to know about us! Immediately we had lots of smiles, chats, welcome cards and invites to local events and it was lovely. People would talk to us at the park, in the street and at school and still even now this is the norm. It was so weird and a huge change to let our guard down, but now I love taking interest in others too and we love belonging to a community and living in a place where people genuinely care for one another and look out for each other and their kids. All the kids play out all together like we did when we were kids, and the village has so many lovely traditions each season and holiday to bring everyone together.

Our favourite has been seeing the little lit up nativity scene on the island of the village pond at Christmas, the daffodils that fill the green in Springtime, and the village show and music festivals that all sound great too.

I love how everyone smiles and greets you each day – I love how trusting and kind everyone is, and that we have discovered that village life means living in a place with great community spirit. It restores faith in the goodness of people and makes life very joyful indeed!

Wide open spaces – I think this was the most obvious change and thing that we wanted from village life and it hasn’t disappointed. Whatever the weather we love the wide open spaces all around us – it is so pretty and we thoroughly enjoy our wanderings, hikes, adventures, and the opportunity to rejuvenate and heal via all that await us in nature!

A Little school – Thankfully when we lived in Leeds we were able to have our kids in a little faith school, but I would say this one is definitely a little smaller.  I love that too about living here – and we have found the school and parents are lovely, and they run some fantastic free clubs too (gardening being a fave). The kids have settled well, and especially love ice cream fridays, parents being able to go for school lunch, and stepping out of school on to the green and playing with friends.

I never considered myself country girl, and elements of my style and interests still aren’t particularly country girl, but I do love an adventure and being outdoors and this move has helped me discover new things I love to do. I now own a pair of joules wellies and am mostly rocking life in the country!!!

Overall I would say that village life is wonderful though and is far less about style and more a new lifestyle with a young family. Life generally could do with a couple of improvements here and there, but that is life isn’t it?! And I often say to Nath that I would prefer to deal with life’s challenges here in such a beautiful chilled place, than in a busy city with some bad memories, because when it comes to where we live, I couldn’t have imagined how blessed we would feel to live here!

I didn’t realise how much my soul needed to live in such close proximity to nature and the coast and how it would help me discover more about myself. We each love the peace, the sound of the birds, the people we live around and are getting to know, and we love how right it feels to live here. The kids often say we live in the best place (they love it), and I suppose for us right now it is.

I feel so grateful everytime I take a stroll around the fields, up to the farm shop, or across to the neighbouring village that this is our new home. I love to see the joy of the kids playing out with friends and having independence, and having a childhood chasing nature. Even the school run is pretty, and I am thankful in all of these little moments that this is our life now. I love how close we are to the beach…the ocean, seaside and family – it really is so fulfilling and I love that we all feel settled and happy with this move. We have slotted in seamlessly, and are enjoying our new village life in the country – it is pretty, and just what we needed!

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