If ever you are planning your stay here and look at the advance weather forecast and wonder if those grey clouds and downward droplets necessarily mean there may not be non-stop sun, we have another wet-weather tip. How about a 3-hour ‘award winning chocolate experience‘?
See if you can book a session into Cocoadance. It is well worth it.
It involves perhaps an hour’s drive, to Castleton in the High Peak, which is stunningly beautiful, and when we went just after Christmas all the lighted Christmas tres and decorations made it look like a fairy tale.
However, you leave this enchanting spot, and drive up and up behind Castleton along an increasingly narrow road until you come to a little (National Trust) farmhouse looking quite lost and lonely, sheltering by Mam Tor. Then Dave and his wife Bridget come out to greet you and suddenly you are in a place buzzing with light and energy, and smelling wonderfully of (good, really good) chocolate.
Having just done it (really, unlike many other of the Peak District experiences that we haven’t yet tried) we can promise that it really is a fantastic experience. It helps if you like chocolate but the chocolate Cocoadance makes is superb, and a very far cry from the sickly sweet ‘chocolate flavour’ experience one can all too often have from cheap chocolate. Some very kind friends had asked us to join their party just after Christmas and not one of us felt in the slighted bit queazy after three hours of solidly sampling chocolate. Unbelievabe, isn’t it?
You learn, you do, you taste and you are tested (literally blind, with one’s eyes behind such thick eye masks cheating is absolutely impossible). You design your own creations, some intricate, some beautiful and some it must be said looking faintly kindergarten-y. We learnt how different countries have developed different tastes and fashions, and how here in Britain, tastes have been shaped by Cadbury’s Milk which (I don’t want to be sued by Cadbury’s) is ‘chocolate’ rather than chocolate.
John Ruthie and I came back from our afternoon healthily replete, and absolutely buzzing with the whole experience. Two weeks later we are still eating and enjoying the fruits of our own handiwork and still regaling any unsuspecting folk who stop to listen with our newly gained knowledge and expertise.
(By the way, we had to wear aprons and particularly fetching hairnets; as you see from these photos from John below).