Go & Stay
It’s an odd thing to meander through the Peak District’s rolling green hills and quintessential English villages and then arrive at the Russian Cottage.
Clad in dark wood with white decorative surrounds, this chocolate-box cottage was inspired by an intricate model gifted to Chatsworth Estate by a Russian tsar. Hidden from sight up a country track that passes through bluebell woods, it really is a magical sight when it finally comes into view; like a scene from a fairytale.
Inside, the charm continues. Decked out in beautiful antiques, colourful rugs and quilts, it’s a place that feels instantly uplifting and comforting.
The wonderful kitchen became the epicentre of our weekend stay. With the radio blasting in the background, we all sat around reading or chatting under the impressive antler light fitting, our breakfasts lasting the hours we wish they would every day.
I loved sitting in the perfect nook by the kitchen window, cuppa in hand, watching the clouds cast shadows on the hillside opposite. It was hard to tear ourselves away but those afternoons we did, we returned to our woodland sanctuary and collapsed contentedly in front of a roaring fire (even though the weather didn’t quite demand it!).
Eat & Drink
The Chatsworth Estate has a fantastic farm shop just over the hill from the Russian Cottage. We filled a couple of baskets to the brim on our first day, feasting on freshly baked bread, local chutney and cheese wherever our picnic took us; around the kitchen table, in the garden of the Russian Cottage or by the river on the estate.
When our farm shop finds did finally run out, we made our way to The Devonshire Arms in Baslow. We positioned ourselves intentionally in front of a wall covered in an old map of the area so we could plan our next day’s adventuring, while sampling some great local ale and a supper of seasonal local produce.
With Bakewell a stone’s throw away it was also obligatory to go in search of the original Bakewell pudding. Quite different to the Bakewell tart, it can only be found in this pretty market town and is well worth a special visit. Sampling a few from the handful of bakeries, we decided ‘Bloomers’ pipped the other puddings to the post.
See & Do
Russian Cottage is such a retreat, set on its own wooded hillside, with nothing but hills, valleys and woodland as far as the eye can see. Most of our adventures thus started at the cottage and were made on foot.
We happily rambled through the woods and valley below us for hours, propping ourselves up with nature’s own walking sticks we found along the way. This was my first visit to the Peaks and, like so many, I fell for its rugged landscape; all rolling hills, babbling brooks and winding rivers dotted with bridges (which made for many games of Pooh sticks!).
In those hours we did leave our hillside we explored the local towns of Baslow and Bakewell, enjoying the antique and traditional pudding shops on offer in each. And of course, we couldn’t stay on Chatsworth Estate without visiting the impressive and palatial house itself.
If you’re a fan of surrealism then you might spend your time in the house as we did, making a beeline for the rooms that host the artwork of Lucien Freud. The best for us though was to be discovered in the garden, getting lost in one of the many glasshouses or the maze. The gardens were just starting to come to life and I can only imagine how glorious they must be in full bloom on a summer’s day. I’m hoping I can one day return to the Russian Cottage to see them and sit in that perfect kitchen nook once more.
Images by Hannah Henderson at penandshutter.co.uk