Romantic cottages for two in the Peak District

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Things to do

Our handpicked selection from around Orchard Farm

What to do?

There is so much to do, see and enjoy in the Peak District you could never be here long enough to try everything – that is, assuming you can tear yourselves way from the peace and comfort of Tom’s or Douglas’s Barns in the first place…

There is so much available, it has taken many days just to compile the list which only skims the surface…

This  is a purely personal attempt to summarise attractions and activities that we know and/or which our guests have enjoyed; it is therefore inevitably subjective and incomplete!

Things change all the time so please tell us if anything – as it will – becomes out of date or incorrect, or if you have enjoyed something that ought to be included.

Select an item to jump to or scroll down to read them all.

Annual Events

There are certain events that happen every year, several of them linked to the church calendar.

Country Houses

We are spoilt for choice in Derbyshire and the Peak District, with both Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall, plus six National Trust houses and a couple of smaller still privately owned homes. The latter are open for a limited number of days per year.

  • The big attraction is Chatsworth, much loved by all.
  • Many of us particularly love Haddon too, an unspoilt mediaeval manor house.
  • Bess of Hardwick’s “more glass than wall’ Hardwick suffers slightly by comparison.
  • Sudbury Museum of Childhood is fascinating, everything looking quite familiar to some.
  • The Curzon family’s answer to Chatsworth Kedleston Hall.
  • Calke Abbey Intriguing glimpse into the past – the original home of the Harpur-Crewes.
  • Eyam Hall The first private property to be leased by the owners (the Wright) to the National Trust, who are now running it on their behalf.
  • Casterne Hall Still lived in by the Hurts, the original family (since the 15th century).
  • Tissington Hall Nearest to us. Home of the FItzHerberts, for over 500 years


  • It is hardly surprising that there are many beautiful GARDENS in this already beautiful area, some belonging to the big houses such as Chatsworth and Haddon and other big houses, but a large number belonging to ordinary folk too.
  • Many nearby gardens are in the Derbyshire or Staffordshire National Garden Scheme yellow book (there is a copy in each barn). Lots of local villages, including Parwich (end of June) hold an Open Gardens, or ‘Secret Gardens’ Open Day during the summer, enabling a fascinating insight into normally invisible gardens.
  • Renishaw Hall – home of the Sitwell, and now boasting a fine vineyard that on certain dates you can visit – in the north of the county and Melbourne Hall in the south of the county
  • Lea Gardens near Cromford  (nearer home) are a delight in the Azalea and Rhododendron season.
  • The Burrows Gardens, Brailsford, between Ashbourne and Derby is apparently good but we haven’t yet been to check it out ourselves yet

Well Dressings

  • Well Dressings are unique to the area, with its origins lost in time.
  • The Tissington Well Dressings are some of the best known, and always held for the six days after Ascension Day. In 2016 this will be Thursday 5th to Wednesday 11th May. They are very popular; luckily for us we can walk over so don’t have to worry about parking!


Walks from The Doorstep

  • The Peak District is a paradise for walkers and cyclists. There are countless walks that you can start from the doorstep in Tom’s and Douglas’s Barns.

Walks nearby

  • You’ll find an Ordnance Survey map in each barn, to help you plan your route; if you’re stuck for inspiration – or bewildered by the choice – you’ll find a Walks file bulging with walks culled from magazines and the Internet.
  • You can Google for more information on the iPads in your barn, but meanwhile here are a few useful links if you want to plan in advance:
  • The High Peak, Monsal Trail, Thornhill Trail and Tissington Trails are excellent for walking and cycling.
  • Sally Mosley whose guided walks often include little known spots, and Peak Walking Adventures


    We have a couple of bikes you can borrow with our blessing if you are happy with them and we are able to provide cycle hats.
    Information on where to cycle can be found on the Visit Peak District site.
    You can also hire bikes on the various trails nearby – the nearest is probably Ashbourne.

  • And if all the hills and valleys alarm you, there is always the possibility of hiring an electric bike from Carsington. You still have to pedal but apparently it is much less like hard work.


If you’d like to bring a horse with you we can’t provide stabling/grazing but have a friend that can – just let us know and we’ll put you in touch. For those coming horseless but who would like to ride, it is very difficult these days if you want to go off on your own, easier if you’re happy to go on a trek.

  1. Ladybooth Equestrian Centre at Edale and
  2. Parkside Stables near Alfreton.
  • Much nearer is Northfield Farm at Flash (the highest village in England, in the Staffordshire Moorlands between Buxton and Leek).
  • Even nearer, for pony trekking (April to October) is the Tissington Trekking Centre.


  • Sailing, windsurfing, etc At Carsington, which is only five or so miles from here.
  • Fishing Here is a useful summary of the fishing available locally, the nearest possibility to us being Fly fishing at Carsington.
  • Golf Look up the Ashbourne Golf Club (the nearest) or Brailsford a small one, which John likes. See here for a full list of Derbyshire Golf Courses
  • Quad Biking Some guests recently absolutely loved this!
  • Caving The Peak Park have a very helpful page on local caving …and climbing on Climbing
  • Sidecar Safari Guests who have taken a Sidecar Safari have really loved the unusual experience –  not everyone these days has been chauffeured round Peak District beauty spots in a Russian sidecar, stopping off for refreshments…


People having been living in the Peak District for over 12,000 years, give or take a century or two, leaving tantalizing snippets of evidence such as the stone circles at Arbor Low and the ‘Nine Ladies’ at Stanton Moor, near Birchover.

Later the Romans were around, and amongst other things developed lead mining, which reached its peak in the mid 18C, with Wirksworth at the centre. In the hillsides between Brassington and us there are still many telltale humps and hollows where lead workings used to be.

Now of course it is limestone that is quarried.

  • Derwent Valley Mills Is where the Industrial Revolution all started, with factories and machinery replacing individual workers… The site runs from Masson Mill at Cromford to the Silk Mill at Derby.
  • Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mill was the first successful water-powered cotton-spinning works
  • The Cromford Canal was built at the end of the 18th C to provide reliable and cheap transport of coal and particularly cotton from the Peak District to places like Derby and Nottingham. It is being restored and one can enjoy walking along the bank or going on a restored canal boat.
  • The National Arboretum ‘Where our nation remembers’ is at Alrewas, in Staffordshire, about 45 minutes’ drive away.
  • Crich Tramway Museum (Closed November to end March)
  • Peak Rail – ‘…the thrill of steam and diesel on our preserved railway’.
  • There are also plenty of MUSEUMS: industrial, trains, trams, mining, and
  • The National Stone Centre near Wirksworth.

Wet Weather Plans

You can’to always rely on the sun to shine, but there is plenty to do when striding out in the open air has perhaps momentarily lost its appeal.

  • Visit Peak District has some suggestions, such as visiting one of the local caves, museum, swimming pools, shopping.
  • We can add a few suggestions: some personal pampering, going sailing on Carsington (you’ll get wet anyway), have a long and lingering meal at one of our local excellent restaurants and pubs.
  • If the long-range forecast is gloomy, anticipate the worst (weather-wise) and book a cookery course at the truly excellent Tideswell School of Food or Seasoned Cookery School

Retail Therapy

  • If shopping is an important part of a holiday, there is plenty of scope, from the ANTIQUE SHOPS of Bakewell and Ashbourne to the factory outlet shops in Belper, Matlock Bath and Rowsley.
  • There are lots of bookshops (ask us for details) including Scarthin ‘Most Enjoyable Bookshop’ – new, second hand and rare books.
  • David Nieper’s ‘exclusive company shop’ in Alfreton is a delight, with very helpful saleswomen and a convenient free coffee and cakes offered to accompanying male partners who might otherwise quickly become bored.
  • Ashbourne has a good selection of clothes shops including Bennett’s, a locally owned rather special ‘department store’, Go Wilde and Young Ideas, a seriously trendy fashion shop for the beautifully young, slim and well heeled!
  • The POTTERIES less than an hour away, in Stoke; the seconds shops are a great source of very acceptable reduced prices presents to take home! The Denby Pottery shop here in Derbyshire has an enormous supply of perfect and seconds. Magnificent Royal Crown Derby, in Derby, is well worth a visit.


  • There are ART GALLERIES in nearly every town – the St John Street Gallery in Ashbourne has a constantly changing display of sculptures and pictures, including often those of Parwich’s  Lewis Noble and Ruby Hickmott, both of whom have painted pictures now hanging in Douglas’s Barn… You can eat there at the Gallery, too.
  • Many of our guests love BOOKSHOPS (as do we). One can spend hours (as have we) trawling the shelves in
  • Scarthin’s second hand BOOKSHOP in Cromford shopping, stopping off every so often for a delicious snack in their tiny restaurant.
  • Brierlow Bookshop – one of the largest discount bookstores in the country apparently – on the way (A515) to Buxton is a Mecca for book lovers.
  • The Hassop Bookstore on the Hassop roundabout just north of Bakewell is worth a visit. You can also have a meal and hire a bicycle – even an electric one – at the same time!

Theatres and cinema

  • The star of the show locally is  the Buxton Opera House. There is something on practically all the time, from opera, ballet, classical and pop concerts and Shakespeare to stand up comics and farce.
  • In July the annual Buxton Festival takes place, an exciting literary and musical event.
  • There are also THEATRES in Derby, and Sheffield, Nottingham, Stoke, and even Stratford is well less than two hours away …
  • Cinemas There are several big multiplexes in Derby, but we find the Showcase Derby Cinema de Lux in the Westfield centre very convenient. We rather like going to afternoon showings, if possible paying slightly over the odds for the Director’s Lounge. It feels very decadent, but the seats are enormous and very comfy, and there usually aren’t too many other people there.
  • As a complete and very charming contrast, there are several very delightful tiny local cinemas:
  • Try the Ritz in Belper or the Northern Light Cinema in Wirksworth.

Farmers’ Markets and Food Shops

  • Most towns have a weekly market and Farmers’ Markets are held regularly. Probably the best known locally is Bakewell Farmers’ Market on the last Saturday of the month.
  • There are many specialist FOOD SHOPS in the area, including the Chatsworth Farm Shop. Ashbourne, proud to be a ‘Fairtrade town’ has several including: The Cheddar Gorge has lovely cheese, pates and cold meats, cakes and bread. Bramhall’s, opposite the marketplace, is another delicatessen with a tempting array of exotic cheeses, breads, quiches and pies as well as chocolates.
  • In Bakewell the Original Bakewell Pudding Shop – and at least two others – claim to produce the one and only authentic pudding… (Many of us prefer Marion’s own original Fake Bakewell, but you’d better keep quiet about that.)
  • There are three excellent butchers in Ashbourne but nearer to home is the White Peak Butchers in Tissington – a not-to-be-missed delight. Their bacon is wonderful: it really fries – rather than stewing in a scummy liquid. Many of our guests walk over the hills – some of them daily – to buy their bacon for a breakfast treat, or sausages, black pudding or steak…
  • The Old Cheese Shop in Hartington is a delight. They are well on their way – or so we understand – to have their ‘Peakland Blue’ cheese reinstated as an authentic Stilton. Whatever it’s called, it is truly delicious.

Pubs and Restaurants

  • There are a lot of excellent pubs in the area (many stocking real ales) and restaurants. Chefs and owners move on from time to time but we try to keep up with the changing reputations and you will find a continually updated list of places of recommended places in your barn when you arrive. The village has its own pub The Sycamore which is dog friendly and serves a good varied menu. We have picked out just a few others:
  • The Gate in Brassington is the nearest at just under 3 miles away on foot over the hills or 10 minutes by road. Open fires, candle-lit tables…
  • The George at Alstonefield is a great favourite with us all. It never fails. Fischer’s (Baslow, 35 minutes) (Michelin Star, seriously good, try their special 2014 lunches which are already great value and you get an extra 10% off if you’re staying here!
  • Rowley’s also in Baslow is linked with Fischer’s – less expensive and less atmosphere but food super!
  • The Packhorse Inn at Crowdecote goes up and down but we think it is on a real up at the moment! Let us know if we’re right.
  • The Peacock in Rowsley (owned by Haddon) is excellent. They too do reasonably priced lunches.
  • Finally, just into Staffordshire on the other side of Ashbourne is the Duncombe Arms which we can seriously recommend.

Cookery Courses

So many of you seem to enjoy good food, whether eating at the numerous excellent pubs and restaurants in the area, or cooking something delicious at home in Tom’s or Douglas’s excellent kitchens, where many a gourmet meal has been lovingly prepared and enjoyed. But however good a cook, any genuine food lover is keen to learn more. ‘Culinary Tourism’ or Food Tourism to put it more simply, is a big thing so we’re told and we are well served locally by two excellent cookery schools: Tideswell School of Food to the north of us and Seasoned to the south. We can personally vouch for both.

Leave the car at home

There are lots of reasons to leave your car at home. Wondering how to get here without a car? You can plan your trip using We can pick you up from local railway stations or from the bus station in Ashbourne. While you are here there is local transport to get you to a variety of visitor attractions and we have bikes that you can use to get out on the trails. The village has a shop in the local pub and you do not need to cook as the pub also sells delicious home made food and we do provided basic store cupboard provisions. Local transport information, maps etc are all provided in the barns.

Stargazing - Discover the Sky at Night

With our big, open skies you will be amazed by what you can see.
Over the past 100 years, our skies have become more difficult to view as man-made light pollution obscures the stars. However here at Orchard Farm we are extremely lucky – being so far away from towns and street lights our night skies are truly dark, and you can still get a brilliant view of the twinkling stars above.
On a clear night there is nothing better than gazing up at the starry sky. To make the most of the opportunity you can also bring along your telescope if you have one.
Dark Sky Places
Don’t just take our word for it! The Peak District National Park Authority, Nottingham Trent University and the Science and Technology Facilities Council have worked together to identify dark sky discovery sites where there are good conditions for stargazing.
One of the 3 designated dark sky sites is at Minninglow car park just a couple of miles along the High Peak Trail.
Dark Places in the Peak District:
• Minninglow, off the A515 at Pikehall (nearest postcode DE4 2PN)
• Surprise View, off the A6187 near Hathersage
• Parsley Hay, off the A515 near Hartington (nearest postcode SK17 0DG)
At each site there is an astronomy interpretation panel to help you explore the night skies. The panels are changed each season.
The Wirksworth StarDisc
If you are interested in astronomy and star gazing why not visit The StarDisc, situated at the top of Stoney Wood, near Wirksworth. It is a stunning space created by local artist Aidan Shingler to bring the wonders of the night sky to all.
Visit the web site for more details

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

There are 43 nature reserves in Derbyshire where you can see a variety of wildlife. Great places to see wildflowers, listen to birdsong and wintering wildfowl in the winter months. The latest reserve to be added is Hoe Grange Quarry now home to 26 species of butterflies.The former quarry has a micro-climate created by the surrounding cliffs and trees. Hopton Quarry nearby is a great example of recolonised quarry workings. Full details of all reserves are available at:

What have we forgotten!

If there are other attractions that you would like to see here please let us know.


  • What a great place to spend Christmas!

    There is still time to book a last minute Christmas get away in Douglas’s Barn. The weather may be cold but the barn is very warm and cosy. Why not treat yourselves to a get away from it all break. You can order all your supplies from one of the supermarkets, get it delivered and […]

  • Time for a short pre Christmas break

    Time to get a bit of relaxation before the Christmas mayhem. There are still short breaks available in Douglas’s Barn. Plenty going on in the Peak District. Lots of Christmas markets selling lovely gifts that you don’t see elsewhere. Chatsworth House is also a must at this time of year. There are plenty of stories […]

  • A busy Sunday in the Peak District

    Lots of events to go to in and around Parwich today but managed to get to the Horticultural Show in Parwich and the Hartington Show. Missed out on the Antiques in Ashbourne though which is always worth going to. Izzy did better than me by getting 1st prize as the Prettiest Bitch at Hartington Show […]

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