Having a crafty Peak

We snatched a couple of days off and on Sunday morning headed North to Derbyshire and the Peak District. Our camp site for the trip was Ilam hall the National Trust property.

Ilam Park Caravan site is a beautiful green oasis nestled in the grounds of Ilam Hall, about 5 miles from Ashbourne in the southern end of the Peak District National Park.

The hall was built in 1827 and was destined for demolition in 1930. Three quarters of the hall had been demolished before Sir Robert McDougal (the flour magnet) bought it for the National trust to be used as a youth hostel.

ilam hall

Ilam Hall

I found it rather grand sleeping in the grounds of a Victorian hall, but of course the Extreme knitter being a Lady herself takes it in her stride.


We took the drive away awning with us, but the strong winds meant we couldn’t put it up.

We spent the afternoon wandering around the extensive park land admiring the hall and the river.


Yes, we had meat balls in homemade tomato sauce again, but we have decided to alter our first evening meal for future trips. Just need to decide what to have instead.

Ruby came with us on this trip although she had some dental work carried out in the week. Yorkies are prone to having dental problems, so she had a clean and descale at the Vets. Unfortunately she had to have three teeth removed, one being a baby tooth that hadn’t popped out in her youth. We were concerned that she wouldn’t be up for this trip after the anaesthetic, but she was back to her normal self the following day.

This campsite is stunning and fairly basic in a good way, it’s a bargain at £16 per night with electric hook-up.


Our Morning View

The facilities are housed in an annex of the hall which a fair trek from the camp pitches, so a trip to the toilet has to be preplanned. It’s no good waiting until your bursting.

toilet block

Ye oldie toilet block

This slight inconvenience (see what I did there) is a small price to pay for the privilege of using this site. There is however a well sited fresh water, waste water, chemical toilet disposal point and refuse bins situated bang in the centre of the site.

During a late night trek to the toilets I could hear footsteps following me, so I stopped and looked around, but there was no one there.

I carried on and the footsteps started following me again. At this point I was having visions of a mad axe man/woman ready to murder me. After looking around and finding nobody, I finally realized that I was hearing my own footsteps being amplified through my new hearing aids.

Monday morning and Ruby woke me up to go for a wee. The rain was torrential at this point and she didn’t hang about outside for long. We eventually dragged ourselves out of bed and cooked a full English breakfast to set us up for the day.


Our Corner Pitch

Calamity!!! The electric power supply tripped. A quick reccie showed that rain water had entered the supply socket and tripped the circuit breaker. No problem, the site rangers were sorting it out later for us as we were going out and we didn’t need it until we returned.

Unfortunately, I disconnected our supply cable then I promptly slid down a muddy embankment on my back.

I was covered in mud and feeling embarrassed I quickly got up as if nothing had happened, as you do. I changed my clothes while the Extreme knitter hosed the mud of my rain coat and we finally set off for Bakewell.

Following the sat nav directions, is always a risk, but we got to see some beautiful countryside whilst travelling down some narrow country roads.

We have visited Bakewell before on a previous trip and experienced the Bakewell tart/pudding wars.


Well, because I couldn’t decide which was the best back then I just had to have a rematch. Funnily enough even after a tasting session I still couldn’t decide, but I must say the lemon/coconut version of the Bakewell tart was scoring a 10 out of 10, but technically it wasn’t the original recipe so it didn’t count.

Parking in the farmer’s livestock market car park was a little muddy and I had to walk very carefully as I didn’t have another change of clean clothes if I decided to slip over.

The walk in to the town took us across the footbridge covered in padlocks.


Padlock Bridge

We drove back to the campsite via Matlock Bath which has gained a reputation for being a landlocked seaside resort. The river creates the focus for the visitors to promenade up and down and during the autumn they have the river and road illuminated similar to Blackpool.

Tuesday came around quickly meaning we were heading home. This campsite is run by National Trust and staffed by volunteers. We couldn’t have wished for a better pair of site rangers as Colin and Jenny. In fact in all the years we have been camping we have never met such a pleasant and helpful couple. We will return.

Of course our trip home would be incomplete without a visit to a wool or sewing shop and as always, the extreme knitter had located two shops in the same street in Darley Dale.

I will say that she is a dab hand at sewing/knitting etc.

Many years ago I asked for a pair of trousers legs to be turned up. “Put them on the sewing pile” she said. A few years later I found my trousers still at the bottom of the pile. I tried them on and found I had grown in to them.

Tarts, Puddings and Peaks

October was upon us we still hadn’t been away since our Scottish trip. Cabin fever was driving us mad, so we set off for the Peak district grabbing a spare night out of a busy weekend to escape.

Ruby opted out of this trip and decided to have a sleepover at our daughter’s house.

A few miles along the A515 before reaching Buxton we were surprised to see that the Book Store Brierlow Bar was still there and as popular as ever despite the advent of the Kindle.

Buxton is a beautiful Spa town with a very similar feel to it like Harrogate.

Trying to find somewhere to park Puffin was proving to be a nightmare. I went to the Springs Shopping Centre pay and display car park and luckily spotted that the height barriers were across on the exit, but the entrance barriers were open meaning we would have been trapped if we had entered. We eventually found a space in the Market Place car park.

We ate in a bistro in Market Street called No 13. Nice food, but slow service.

The walk down the hill called the slope led us into the main shopping area.

The extreme knitter immediately found a wool shop (how does she do it?)

Buxton Baths now converted to shops were interesting particularly the tiling and glass stained roof.

The walk back up the slope was a struggle.

Our campsite of choice for the evening was Beech Croft Farm situated quite close to Buxton just off the A6. A quick phone call and we were booked in. It’s a superb campsite with excellent facilities and being a Saturday night the site was busy.



Large hardstanding pitches with electric, water and TV point.

A late start to the Sunday morning with the usual Bacon baps for breakfast. Tidy up and we were off, headed south towards Bakewell.

The parking at Bakewell is good as it utilises the cattle market.

All the television travel shows that visit Bakewell hone in on the tart verse the pudding wars, a myth fostered by the crafty inhabitants of Bakewell. The supposed heated fight of what came first the Bakewell tart or the Bakewell pudding means that visitors have to buy at least one of each for a comparison. Vast quantises of both are sold each day. I’m sure that when the competing shops lock up at the end of the day, they meet up for a friendly beverage and discuss marketing tactics.

You don’t think that I was going to be drawn into by this sale ploy, by heck I was.

Armed with one Bakewell Tart and one Bakewell pudding.  I carried out an extensive taste test. Unfortunately the results were inconclusive, so further testing will need to be required on future visits.

I noticed three shops calling themselves “the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop” and only one called “the Bakewell Tart Shop”. Does that have any impact on the tart/pudding debate?

Feeling only slightly full we dragged ourselves to Puffin passing over the river bridge that is festooned with padlocks.