Romantic cottages for two in the Peak District

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British Beer, Elizabethan Manor Houses and Electric Bikes

Sudbury HallThe National Trust and the National Brewery Centre… a heady mix for one day and  John and I have just spent a most enjoyable- and useful – day sampling both. Our local tourism board, Visit Peak District & Derbyshire, runs familiarisation trips to local attractions for its members; the idea is to give people an enjoyable day out, whilst learning more about the area.

It also gives the the attractions an opportunity to show off their wares, so to speak, so that accommodation providers can speak at first hand about local places, and be able to recommend helpfully and appropriately to their guests. We have just been on their most recent one: a guided tour round Sudbury Hall, including its impressive Museum of Childhood followed by another tour, round the National Brewery Centre in Burton on Trent and would happily recommend both!

Quite illogically both feel slightly outside our radar, possibly because both are in Staffordshire and we tend to look towards Chatsworth  and Haddon, and even Hardwick Hall and Lyme Park (Cheshire) which are both quite a bit further away. Sudbury is only about 30 minutes’ drive from here. It is a stunning red brick late 17th century house, built by the Vernon family, and lived in by them until it was given to the National Trust in lieu of crippling death duties. It remained more a family house than a grand or ostentatious one, although the grand staircase, cornices and ceilings and Grindling Gibbins wood carvings are hardly modest.

Incidentally, apparently it is a favourite destination of the so-called ‘set-jetters’ who like to visit the settings of films they have enjoyed. The Peak District really comes into its own for this and apparently Sudbury is a favourite haunt of all Pride and Prejudice fans. We were shown the exact settings for many scenes everyone remembered from the film, particularly d’Arcy/Colin Firth addicts.

The Victorian Schoolroom The Museum of Childhood is wonderful. Such a lot of care and imaginative thought has gone into the design and the content; while we were there there were happy groups of children being introduced to old fashioned games, watching someone in an old-fashioned kitchen ironing with a flat iron, having the chance of going up a chimney and  ‘enjoying’ a lesson in a Victorian schoolroom.

None of us were remotely of young school age, but there were constant whoops of delighted remembrance as people pounced on Hornby trains, books, games, toys and clothes they remembered from their own childhood. The Victorian school room with its rows of double wooden desk-with-lids-and -inkwells looked very familiar to a number of us who were educated long after the Victorian era I hasten to say but obviously went to schools which had seen no need to modernise!

There is a very pleasant cafe at Sudbury and a very different one also at the National Brewery Museum which provided us with a delicious buffet lunch. Much more scope for nostalgia here on this second lap of our trip, and plenty of opportunity to sample some draught beer. The only time I personally would think of drinking beer is as a reward after a long walk to a pub but it didn’t take much persuasion to try something called White Shield which slipped down very sweetly! The trouble was for the rest of the afternoon one felt rather dosy and inattentive (good thing this came after the Victorian classroom!).

A quick trip back to Carsington Water, our drop-off point, where John and I saw for the first time the brand new electric bikes which are being piloted in the Peak District and Devon (hilly counties both, where extra power uphill is a great asset!). Friends who use them say they are brilliant but we haven’t yet had a try. You can hire these at Carsington.

So, two very good recommendations at any time, but probably even more especially if the weather looks unpromising and you don’t feel like being outside; the electric bikes a fun thing to consider if the weather is good!

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