[AD] As part of my previous collaboration with Chatsworth Kitchen, we were gifted family tickets to Chatsworth and finally put these to good use this weekend with a lovely day out exploring the gardens, farmyard and playground as a family.
I have visited Chatsworth numerous times over the years. It’s probably my favourite place on earth. I’ve come by myself, my husband and I came for a romantic day out when we were newly dating, we’ve brought visitors here, shopped the Christmas market and most recently I was given a behind the scenes tour of the kitchen garden.
We have also brought my daughter here but she was too young to remember so this was her first proper experience of Chatsworth. On the drive home, I asked her afterwards what were the best and worst bits. Best? “Everything.” (Although I suspect it was the playground) Worst? “Nothing.” Job done!
Whilst Chatsworth House is absolutely stunning, and a must visit in Derbyshire generally, if you have young children I personally would not bother. There is more than enough to explore outside. You could make a reasonably full day out of the farmyard and adventure playground alone, but add in the gardens, plus the free to explore parkland, and that’s the day sorted. I also find it much more relaxing to be somewhere where kids can just run free (and inside a stately home is not the place!).
There are various different tickets available, but I would recommend buying the ‘Garden, Farmyard and Playground’ option for a family day out, particularly if you have never been before. This is from £53 for a family ticket (adults £18.50 each, children from £12.50) which includes unlimited access to these areas and car parking.
We visited on a sunny September Saturday, arriving just after opening at 10.30am and were directed straight to the overflow parking area which was on grass (although possibly with some mesh underlay – it certainly wasn’t muddy). The main car park is a combination of tarmac and gravel.
Straight after the garden ticket booth (and probably from the car park too – I’m afraid I forgot to check) if you look to your right, there is an E R plantation visible in the distance. Apparently planted to celebrate the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Particularly since we were visiting just days before the state funeral of the Queen I found this sight really quite moving and poignant.
Chatsworth House gardens
We then set about exploring the gardens. There are varied, expansive and beautifully manicured gardens. Highlights for us included the Cascade fountain, the emperor fountain and the maze. You could spend hours wandering around at leisure but of course we were going at the breakneck speed of an impatient five year old.
The view from the top of the Cascade is one of my all time favourites. On a sunny day children (and the young at heart!) can paddle in the fountain so it’s worth bringing a towel. It was far too chilly on the day we visited but we enjoyed climbing to the top and then catching our breath inside the temple which overlooks the gardens, house and wider estate.
My daughter absolutely adored the maze. I find them rather anxiety inducing – so used the opportunity to send my husband and her off whilst I enjoyed a rare moment of blissful quiet. Given how full the car park was, it was remarkable how gloriously peaceful the gardens felt.
Picnic in Chatsworth House gardens
After a couple of hours exploring the gardens we enjoyed a picnic in the September sunshine. Whilst I’m not aware of any picnic tables in the gardens there are plenty of benches dotted throughout the gardens so its easy to find a lovely spot. It’s worth taking a blanket if you have one. There are a few ice cream and coffee vans dotted about the grounds (some are cash only so be prepared). There are also various catering options in the main stable yard area near the entrance/car park.
After lunch we took a slow walk back to the stable area (via the toilets!) and then headed up towards the farmyard and playground. Don’t forget to stamp your hand in case you want to return. This, actually, may well have been the absolute highlight of my daughter’s day – simple pleasures eh?!
You’ll need to show your ticket again at the entrance to the farmyard (or buy one here if just doing this bit). You can also buy bags of animal feed for £1.
We really enjoyed wandering round seeing the different animals. Highlights were the horses, seeing piglets and feeding the cheeky goats. It was so heart warming seeing my daughter grow in confidence around the animals. There’s a vintage tractor to sit on, chickens roaming etc. There’s also a shop and a café here too.
It’s then quite a steep but short walk up to the adventure playground. Kids over five (who are feeling brave) can access the playground via a secret tunnel which has a ladder at the top.
In my mind, this is the best playground in the whole of Derbyshire. There’s so many different play areas – a climbing wall, a short rope course, a big sandpit area, different climbing frames, swings, water play and so on. The playground area has a soft bark surface. There are a few benches and picnic tables – but these were at a premium. There’s also a snack van up by the playground but be aware this is cash only.
Overall, we all had a wonderful day out and my daughter is already asking when we can go back.
Fun family day out in the fresh air – lots to explore for all ages.
Chatsworth, Bakewell, Derbyshire, DE45 1PP
Booking in advance is highly recommended. particularly if you wish to visit the house
Dogs on leads welcome in the garden but not in the house, farmyard or playground.
Access – No pushchairs allowed in the house but otherwise pushchair and wheelchair friendly.
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