For me, the Peak District has anchored a place in my heart for two very distinct reasons.
The first is rather whimsical as it is the fictional Derbyshire that features in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that forged my first connection to the hills and dales, grand houses and country towns.
The estate of Pemberley may have been imagined but the impressions of that green, rather wild, countryside were fact and as an impressionable girl, I linked life and love with the Peaks and towns of the area.
Secondly, it was here in Derbyshire that both my grandmother and grandfather spent many of their schooldays.
My granpa in a rather closeted and unhappy world as a boarder at pre-war Repton School, while (by coincidence, they met later in India) my granny’s entire Welsh boarding school – Penrhos School for girls –was moved here during the war years after their coastal buildings were requisitioned by the government (the ministry of food).
The school was relocated, and it seems impossible to imagine now, into the stunning surrounds of Chatsworth House itself for the duration of the war, which by a happy coincidence was believed to be inspiration or Austen’s Pemberley and used a film setting for the 2005 adaptation, starring Keira Knightley.
So I love to visit Chatsworth and imagine the girls running round playing games in the grounds and through the corridors looked down upon by priceless paintings – or Elizabeth Bennett, chatting to her Darcy.
The lure of Derbyshire for me may be it’s romance but this is a county a great deal to offer for every visitor, from walkers to history-lovers, to last-minute weekenders and those looking for an escape in a region famed for its landscape and idyllic-looking stone buildings.
Nestled in the lush countryside a drive away from and yet officially still part of the Chatsworth estate, is Dannah Farm Country House.
This is an idyllic luxury country house hotel and working farm rolled into one, where the emphasis is on quirky, individual, and wholesome luxury in a country cottage environment.
Here you can luxuriate in your own in-room sauna, or you can walk the farmer’s dogs, guests are very much embraced into the lifestyle.
The house itself, located at Shottle in the Peaks’ Amber Valley, boasts views over the surrounding six counties, namely Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
All the rooms are individual – we stayed in The Ecclesbourne which had it’s own tiny sauna and a spa bath, though admittedly we did not use either.
Our room was large, with a sofa, dressing area and quirky bathroom, with charming windows overlooking the beautifully kept gardens.
We made our way their through the farmhouse’s welcoming living room, complete with squashy sofas, cheerful blue wallpaper, dark furnishings, knick-knacks and fireplaces made for winter roaring.
Drinks are available from a tiny honesty bar in the corner.
As we made our way up to our room, what is memorable is the quiet – we only bumped into other guests at breakfast.
The décor is very much quintessentially English, with charming chintz meeting mod cons.
No stark hotel room experiences here – though you still have all the facilities you need including tea, coffee, flatscreen and Wifi. Everything is comfortable.
Breakfast in worth a special mention of it’s own.
Proudly locally sourced and freshly made, a full English is highly recommended.
The bread for toast is baked on site and a is chewy, crispy and full of flavour, particularly when laden with butter and jams.
Bacon, sausages, even black pudding can all be traced to local source – here breakfast is taken seriously and in the quiet, historic, setting of the farmhouse, feels like complete luxury.
But this is a working farm and outside the pigs are squealing, the tractors starting up and outside the door and for no apparent reason there is a cage full of tiny kittens, mewing in the sunny morning, taking the air.
This is an idyllic Engish experience, reminiscent of the world of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.
I’m sure lashings of ginger beer probably are available at this lovely bolt hole, which is perfect for a Derbyshire adventure – or escape.
Home from home at Dannah Farm. All pics @jabberingjourno