Derbyshire Venues & Accommodation For Every Occasion

Feeling Arty? Look How Derbyshire's Been Upcycled

Derbyshire folk get creative with upcycling, the Wandering Beeste is Back, Ancient Streams to discover, indulge in healthy chocolate and if that's not enough we have some treats in store for you too...

A new life for Derbyshire’s red telephone boxes

Mobile phones may be ubiquitous, but some Derbyshire communities remain passionate about their red telephone boxes. Peter Naldrett puts in a call to those maintaining this icon of rural Britain.

Superman likes to change in them, Dr Who travels about in one and most ordinary folk have a memory of finding one to make an important call at some point in their lives. Public payphones have been embedded in our culture as an important method of communication since they were introduced in 1921. But less so these days.

Gradually disappearing from our streets, the heyday of the phone box has long gone and some people even believe the days of dialling from them are numbered.

British Telecom tolled the death knell of the red payphone 30 years ago when it announced it would be switching to the more bland grey kiosks. There was opposition to the change – and there is still opposition today when BT apply to remove more boxes from our streets. So several villages have taken up the chance to buy their red phone box for &1 and run it as a community facility instead of a telephone, with uses including art galleries, libraries, information stations and even coffee shops.

Some may wonder why there is such a rush to cut the iconic red boxes off the phone network in the first place and find other uses for them. The reason can be found close by to most of us – in the shape of a mobile phone. There is just not the demand to make calls from public telephone boxes in today’s world of contracts, texting and 150 minute bundles.

At their peak in 2002 there were 92,000 BT payphones across the UK – this has been reduced to 58,500 today and the number is still falling. Another 1,500 will disappear this year. That will leave us with 10,000 of the much-loved red telephone boxes left, most of them found away from city centres in more rural areas.

And therein lies another problem; although 63,000 calls are made each day from the remaining payphones, they tend to be the ones in built up areas. This leaves the rural red box a loss-maker; 12,000 countryside boxes are used less than once a month.


With the disappearance of red telephone boxes seemingly inevitable, communities across Derbyshire have rallied round to take advantage of the BT scheme to adopt their local payphone shell for a shiny pound. Paul Harrison, of the Tideswell Living History Group, heard about the chance to get hold of a community telephone box for &1 and jumped at the chance, working with the Parish Council to make it part of their oral history project.

He told me: ‘As a group we have been recording people’s memories of the past in Tideswell and the plan to use the village telephone box as part of that oral project was put forward as part of a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

‘If you go inside the phone box now you can pick up the receiver and listen to ten audio clips of local people talking about times gone by. We have focused on areas of childhood, celebration and employment. The ten clips are changed regularly so you will hear different stories in there.’


There’s another phone box in Tideswell – but that one is still in use so there are no plans to extend the initiative. But thought was given as to what colour the ‘history box’ should be when the group gave it a new lick of paint. There was talk of moving away from the traditional red to make it stand out and attract the attention of visitors. But the original colour won the day and the phone box remains as red as a field of poppies. Paul added: ‘They have been around for so long, it is part of our heritage a little bit like the red post boxes are. Sometimes we don’t notice how important things are until they start to go.’

In Little Eaton, the red phone box was in a shabby state and sat close to residents who had formed a book group. In a flash of inspiration, they urged the Parish Council to buy it and it’s now set up nicely as a book exchange on Alfreton Road. The village had a doctor’s surgery, pub, butcher and a chemist – but it lacked a library. Now keen readers can pick up a book free of charge, leaving one they have just finished behind for others to enjoy.

The bright red boxes in Quarndon on the outskirts of Derby and in Shirley and Hollington, near Ashbourne, have also attracted bibliophiles and you’ll now find so much more than a Yellow Pages inside them.

After Shirley Parish Council paid their &1 to adopt, they put out an appeal to see what locals wanted it to be used for. Up stepped local postie Martyn Glover, who put together custom made shelves to fit inside and lined them with 100 of his own unwanted books.

And so a public library was born, albeit a teeny weeny one. Nearby residents soon got involved and contributed to the collection, meaning the catalogue was soon in the hundreds and a few DVDs were also made available to borrow.

But attempts to preserve the old telephone boxes do not always get a good reception. In 2009 there were plans to turn three of Dronfield’s cast-iron classics into community phone boxes – the initiative was turned down by the Town Council because of fears they would be used as public toilets and targeted by vandals.

The decision had its critics.

Ironically, as we make every effort to cling onto these Derbyshire landmarks it’s worth remembering what people thought of them during their installation in the 1920s and 30s. Letters were written to MPs and opinions given to local newspapers calling on them to take away these ugly eyesores. How times change!


Some of the content provided in this article has been sourced from

Derbyshire's Lakeland Makes Us Top Visitor Destination


In a county with an almost complete lack of natural lakes, it is surprising to find that two of Derbyshire’s top visitor destinations are based around large expanses of water.

The area surrounding three vast reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley has become so popular that traffic management schemes are in force during summer weekends; and Carsington Water, a reservoir completed in 1992 on 741 acres of land near Ashbourne, now attracts over one million annual visits.

These artificial ‘lakelands’ have made contrasting impressions on the countryside.

With the drowning of the old villages of Derwent and Ashopton and the planting of conifers around the shores of the Derwent reservoirs, a large tract of the High Peak has mutated into a ‘Little Switzerland’, whereas the area around Carsington Water has been left largely undisturbed as a piece of green and pleasant England, where unspoilt hamlets shelter in the folds of a gently undulating landscape.

Of course, Severn Trent Water’s vast new lake has changed the wider context of the local hamlets, but the water board has made amends by creating a watery playground for all ages. On the shores of the reservoir, there are footpaths, cycle tracks and hides for watching wildlife.

A visitor centre provides information and refreshment facilities, while the lake is a venue for all manner of water sports, including windsurfing, sailing, kayaking and bell-boating.

Invented by David Train, an Olympic canoeing coach, bell-boating involves using two long canoes linked by a robust platform that provides reassuring stability.

As well as offering a safe activity for the many school parties that come to the reservoir, this novel form of paddling is even being advertised as a sport that can be enjoyed by end-of-term revellers as part of their school ‘prom’.

Dave Horner is one of the many people who revel in sailing on Carsington Water. He says: ‘Given favourable weather conditions, I try to make trips every week to the reservoir from my home in Langwith. It is the perfect place for me to enjoy sailing my Merlin Rocket, which I have spent many hours restoring.’

Close to the shores of the reservoir, there is a popular pub called the Knockerdown. With its panoramic views over the lake and its indoor and outdoor dining areas, together with a play area and an adjacent caravan and camping park, the Knockerdown is a particular favourite with families.

Carsington Village

Another pub that has benefited greatly from the influx of visitors to the area is the Miners’ Arms in the village of Carsington. After taking multiple orders for food and drink from members of a coach party, Debbie Moorhouse found a few minutes to expand on the pub’s appeal. She said, ‘We serve great food, with a carvery on Sundays, a Steak Night on Wednesdays and a Fish and Chip Night on Fridays, and our beers include local ales from microbreweries. We even have a cycle-hire scheme.’

The Miners’ Arms has the additional advantage of being located at the heart of a delightful hamlet which nestles cosily at the foot of a steep wooded hillside that rises to the heights of Carsington Pastures, an area once extensively exploited for lead and now labelled on the village information board as ‘a spiritual place for reflection and a place to make you feel as if you are top of the world.’

Another spiritual place is to be found squeezed right up against the hillside, as if reaching up to the heavenly pastures above.

This is St Margaret’s Church, described by Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘a nave and chancel in one’. Despite its simple geometry, the church features an impressive west gallery and several stained glass windows dedicated to the memory of various members of the Gell family. 


Since 1995, when the last of the Gells left Hopton Hall, their ancestral seat on the edge of the village, Carsington has seen lots of changes, not least the conversion of several cottages and farm buildings into holiday lets, thereby halting the likely deterioration of much of the village’s fabric and helping to preserve its old-world charm.

Another recent development has seen a &50,000 enhancement of the village green, thanks to contributions from the Carsington Reservoir Fund and the Exton Trust.

The green now features delightful sculptures of three animals madly chasing each other around a tree.

Carsington and Hopton C of E Primary School is located just beyond the green. As a grammatically suspect inscription testifies, ‘The school was built and given by Temperance Gell of Hopton for twenty poor children of Hopton and Carsington to read, write and other proper works, AD 1726.’




Some of the content provided in this article has been sourced by

Run & Be Rewarded!


We are pleased to be involved with the Derby RSPCA charity race at Carsington on 10th May 2015.

As well as sponsoring the water stations for the race we are delighted to offer the runners and their families a 'Family Open Day' at Knockerdown Cottages.

Runners will be able to join us after the race, use our shower facilities, have a swim in our pool plus join us for a BBQ.


The Carsington 7 + is a 7.76 mile (12.5km) race around the stunning Carsington Reservoir.

This year the Carsington 7+ will follow a route starting and finishing close to the Carsington Water Visitor Centre.

The course will take runners on a full clockwise circuit of the reservoir, taking in spectacular views across the water and the beautiful Derbyshire countryside.

Mainly on cycle track, the course is flat in places but includes some moderate inclines.

We welcome everyone over 17 who wants to run whatever their ability or experience.  

There will also be a shorter run, the Stones Island Spin starting at 10am, for all the family.

The flat traffic free course, starting and finishing at the Visitors Centre, is 3 spins around the Island making a distance of 1 mile in total.

For more information on the spin please click here.

Enter and finish the Carsington 7+ to receive a race Technical T shirt



TO ENTER Online entries: (&15.00 affiliated, &17.00 unaffiliated) 


For more information click here

Further information will be emailed to all race entrants and included on our pre-race newsletters.

The Wondrous Wandering Beeste Is Back

Not long ago we revealed a little secret about the Wondrous Wandering Beeste available at Worth Brothers Wine. 

Shortly afterwards, Worth Brothers Wine, and other independent wine merchants across the country, were all sold out.

This week, Worth Brothers Wine received, a frankly paltry, final delivery of 18 bottles (9 per shop) and that, I'm afraid, is it until the new vintage... 

So, if you'd like to try it and haven't yet,  pop down to Worth Brothers Wine - you can always explore their other wines whilst you're there. 

The Wandering Beeste 2013 (&13.50) has been declared South Africa's best Syrah by the magazine's illustrious tasting panel. Click here to read the judges comments.

Worth Brothers Wine reveal why you should choose your wine like you choose your favourite football team. 


Which treat would you choose?

Nobody can resist peeking at a special offer!

Especially THIS Winter Warmer delight of the month!

See what luxury extras we're treating you to...
Click here to read Which treat would you choose? .

Gainsborough Gallery






Beautiful scenery this month around the Gainsborough Retreats sites in Derbyshire.

Views from our retreat cottages have been breathtaking, views from the treatment room at our site Spa "Brackendale Spa" has allowed guests to sit back and enjoy being pampered, the views on the walks around the Knockerdown Cottages & Nether Burrows Farm areas and the grounds at Egginton Hall are starting to wake up with pretty flower buds. 

Although we feel extremely lucky to have such beautiful scenery on our doorstep, especially since the snow has graced us with its glistening presence, we must admit it has been somewhat freezing in these parts...

Not that our Managing Director Hannah Ellis Hunt realised that early in the month - here she is sunning herself in Puerto Rico!

Slightly envious!...

Something tells me she hasn't been wearing her scarf, gloves and woolly hat this month! 


Also we have the beautiful Carsington Water photo from our competition winner of this month "Helen Doran"! 

Walking To Where? Ancient Woods & Tumbling Streams

Longshaw Country Park & Eastern Moors 

A wonderful place to discover spectacular views of the Peak District, ancient woods, parkland and heather moorland. The spectacular White Edge Moor overlooks the Derwent Valley and forms part of the long gritstone edge stretching from Stanage towards Birchens Edge south of Chatsworth House. If you have time, discover the old quarry workings at Bole Hill.

Walk Route Summary:

Longshaw Country Park, Woodcroft Car Park, Wooden Pool, White Edge Moor, White Edge Lodge, Nether Padley, Oaks Wood, Grindleford Station, Padley Gorge, Lawrence Field, Burbage Brook, Granby Barn, Granby Wood, Longshaw Pond, Longshaw Country Park.

Vital Statistics for this Walk

Park:        Peak District

Area:        Derbyshire

Length:    5.3 miles / 8.6 km

Ascent:    600 feet / 182 metres

Grade:     Easy/moderate

Start:       OS grid reference SK266800    Lat 52.5974395734908 + Long -1.99610196190845

Postcode: S11 7TZ (approx. location only)



This short half day walk is a route full of contrasts. In the early stages the walk crosses some wild moorland and includes the well known rocky viewpoint of Higger Tor. From here the views across the valley to the gritstone Burbage Edge are excellent. The return route follows the infant Burbage Brook which includes a delightful section towards the end of the walk. Finally you have a chance to explore some of the grounds of the National Trusts Longshaw Estate. Refreshments are available at the start and end in Longshaw Lodge. 

1. The start is the main National Trust car park for the Longshaw Estate (grid ref. SK266800). After parking follow the signed footpath towards Longshaw Lodge. 

2. On reaching the main drive turn right and walk to the B6521.

3. Cross this road carefully and bear right to take a signed footpath on your left (grid ref. SK265802).

4. Follow this clear path through light woodland until you reach the busy A6187 at Burbage Bridge. Cross when safe and follow the road to the left. Once across the bridge take the first footpath on the right.

5. The onward route crosses Hathersage Moor. It can be a little wet underfoot after rain. The path is distinct and well trodden trending roughly northwards to Carl Wark an ancient fort which rises above the surrounding moorland.

6. Descend a little and keep on the same bearing towards Higger Tor which is the next objective. This gritstone mass rises quite sharply although the ascent is relatively short lived. Once you have gained the top it is worth spending a few minutes exploring as there are some fine views to be enjoyed in all directions.

7. Continue in the same direction leaving Higger Tor. Bear right at the first major junction of paths to walk parallel to the road on your left. This road is rather quaintly known as Fiddlers Elbow probably because of its alignment.

8. On reaching the road (grid ref. SK260829) bear right and cross Upper Burbage Bridge. From here you have a lovely view of your return walk. 

9. Once across Upper Burbage Bridge turn right and follow the broad path along the east side of the valley. To your left are Burbage Rocks a favourite spot for climbers. This is easy walking and you will get a fine view of Higger Tor on your right as you gently descend.

10. You reach the A6187 just east of Burbage Bridge (grid ref. SK262805). Cross this busy main road and take the footpath opposite.

11. After a short way you reach the path used in the early stages of the walk. You can turn left and return easily to the start but a much more enjoyable finale to the walk is to bear right and walk towards Burbage Bridge.

12. Before you reach the road turn left (grid ref. SK261806), cross the footbridge over Burbage Brook and follow the path down the stream. This is a pretty stretch and in fine weather is a popular place to relax and perhaps paddle in the brook.

13. Continue down to the next footbridge (grid ref. SK257800). Cross this bridge and walk up to the B6521. Cross the road and bear right to take a signed footpath on the left.

14. This leads up Granby Wood, passes a small lake and leads to Longshaw Lodge and back to the start.



Some of the content provided in this article has been sourced from:

Sunshine & Smiles

Knockerdown Cottages Reviews

"We had a very enjoyable stay thank you, the location and views from the cottage were brilliant. You were very helpful and we appreciated the addition of the Christmas tree, chocolates and Champagne."


"Thanks for the great service during our stay, we had a good time.  We hope to return next Christmas! 

"We had a lovely break, we would return for a re-visit and recommend the cottages to friends and family."

"We had a great time!  I have stayed in a couple of your other cottages before but the Two Dales one was really special in comparison, Gainsborough Retreats have done a really good job.  We will definitely try to get back and have recommended you to a number of people already!"

"We had a wonderful stay in The Farmhouse. The cottage was very comfortable and well equipped. We were so impressed with the Christmas decorations and really appreciated the thoughtful gifts of chocolates and Prosecco. Many thanks for a great holiday"

Nether Burrows Farm Reviews

"The house was very comfortable and ideal for our family group. We have already recommended Nether Burrows Farm to several people – a lovely location and a really comfortable house."

"We absolutely loved our stay at the Sunshine Cottage. It was so beautifully kitted out and in such a lovely setting (especially in the snow). We felt like we were staying in a 5 star hotel! Thank you so much for all you did to make it so special. Thank you in particular for the chocolates and Prosecco (a lovely touch that we thoroughly enjoyed). We really can't fault the cottage. We had such a wonderful time, thank you. We will definitely recommend it to friends and you may well see us there again."



Delicious guilt-free choc shock!

If you’re cravings for chocolate are pushing you close to breaking your New Year’s resolution, here’s a much healthier option than your average chocolate bar.

The great thing about Cacao powder is that it actually contains loads of antioxidants. The bad thing about it, is that when made into chocolate, most manufacturers mix it with loads of bad stuff like refined sugar, trans fats and preservatives. This shake has none of that nonsense and loads of great stuff like Omega-3 in the Chia seeds and flax seeds and what’s more it tastes great.

Recipe (serves two)

◦2 Bananas

◦Coconut milk

◦4 tbsp Cacao powder

◦2 tbsp milled flaxseed

◦2 tbsp Chia seeds

◦1 tsp Maca powder

Throw it all it all in your blender and give it a blast.