The Peak District is a National Park smack dab in the middle of England.  It's known for its bucolic walks and estates from the past, popular amongst local and international travelers alike.  Of course, to any fan of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, it's more notable for its two fictional "Pemberley" estates, home of the difficult, yet romantic - Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Traveling in the region without a car, as I did, is challenging.  I equate it to visiting the Loire Valley chateaux in France.  If you are relying on buses and trains, you're going to be limited in the number of sites you can see.  Picking my Peak District points of interest was easy, though:  Chatsworth House (used for Pemberley in the Keira Knightly film version of Austen's book) and Lyme Park (used for Colin Firth's Pemberley in the BBC TV series).  

The first thing I had to do was decide on my home base.  Either I was going to stay on the west side or the east side of the National Park. This meant, in my view, either Manchester (west) or Sheffield (east). Because it was more convenient as a departure point for my next stop in my travel plans, I went with Sheffield.


Lyme Park 

With that in mind, Lyme Park requires two train rides and a half mile walk to reach the main gates. From Sheffield, I took a train to Stockport, then changed trains to go the 17 minutes down to Disley. Disley is a small rail station, but the signage is good and points you down the road to the estate.  When you get to the main gate, you will have the option to walk the 1 mile, slightly uphill road to the house and garden, or speak with the agent at the gate to have the minibus called for a free pickup.

The house is not open all days, which was the case on the date I went.  I wasn't disappointed, though, because sometimes the houses are less impressive than you imagine they should be, as implied by the grandeur of the exterior and the gardens.  Besides, there's really only one "must get" photo, and that's the pond reflecting the house.  I did learn that the pond into which Colin Firth's stunt dove was not this pond, since it is only about 2 feet deep.  That scene was filmed at a much smaller, but deeper, pond on the property.  Actually, if you watch the footage, Darcy does have to walk a bit before reaching the estate, and you can see the house and water in front of him.





At the time of my visit, there was also an exhibition of the illustrator Axel Scheffler, whose Gruffalo is chronicled in Julia Donaldson's children book series.  Some of his drawings were on display in a back room of the Orangery, and other childrens activities related to the Gruffalo were placed around the garden grounds.


Chatsworth House


Because of the three hour round trip timing for Lyme Park and the train tables, it really restricted seeing anything else on the west side of the park.  So, on the second day in the area, again based out of Sheffield, I headed to the Sheffield Interchange bus station to catch the #218 bus.  Outbound, this bus leaves every 30 minutes toward Bakewell.  The stop for Chatsworth House is, conveniently, right next to the house.  Perhaps because the house was open for tours, it seemed a lot more crowded than Lyme Park.


With such a congested experience inside and the allowance for personal photography everywhere, it was a shuffle to get from room to room, though the detail work on everything was inconceivable and worth it!  The wood trim was hand carved into animals, the ceilings and walls were often completely painted scenes with no inch untouched.  The only thing that surprised me was the display of modern artwork and furniture intermingled with the period furniture.  It was, in my opinion, very distracting. Then again, in general I am not a fan of modern design.








This house, as I mentioned before, was used in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice.  This was Matthew Macfadyen's Pemberley.  It was also used in the 2013 TV mini-series, Death Comes to Pemberley.




The estate appears to be appealing for both travelers and picnicking locals with their families, with plenty of hills for kids to roll down in play.  Around the estate, don't be surprised to find flocks of animals, including deer, cows, and sheep.  Returning to Sheffield on the #218 is easy, yet note that the bus only stops every hour for the trip back into town.

Out of curiosity, I just did a quick search for an all-encompassing Peak District bus tour right now, and I came up with only a handful of partial solutions for the tricky transportation problem.  Of course, a car is the simple answer; however, for those of us not used to driving on the left side of the road, sometimes the smaller lanes can be intimidating and the sensation of driving unfamiliar/ uncomfortable.  Just something to keep under consideration.

And now, I leave you with this classic Darcy quote:

"In vain have I struggled.  It will not do.  My feelings will not be repressed.  You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you,"

Swoon!
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