At the time of writing this, we can enjoy recreation outdoors with our own households (including support bubbles where these are in place) and one other person. From 29th March outdoor of either six people or two households will also be allowed... so let's plan some picnics!
Known locally as 'The Farbrick', Ashover Rock is a great choice for a free trip out. At nearly 300m above sea level, there are stunning panoramic views. There are a few benches but it can get busy so do take a blanket. On a quiet day, you can park for free in a lay-by and just walk up the short but steep hill to the rock. Find it by entering "Alton Lane, Ashover" in a sat nav.
To incorporate a bracing walk, and for more extensive parking, park for free at Ashover Parish Hall.
Queens Park, Chesterfield
Chesterfield's Queens Park is a wonderful example of a traditional Victorian park, complete with a bandstand, two playgrounds, and a large duck pond. The paths are beautifully smooth so this would be a good option for anyone with mobility issues or with prams, buggies, scooters, etc. On that note, there are toilets including good baby changing facilities, a disabled toilet, etc. There's a pleasant café serving light bites - the coffee and ice cream are particularly good.
All the car parks are pay and display. Chesterfield residents can park for free all-day Sundays, early mornings and after 3pm but do make sure you display your pass as the traffic wardens seem to be exceptionally keen around here.
Hardwick is an Elizabethan country house created by Bess of Hardwick in the 1500s. Bess was a fascinating figure. Coming from relatively humble beginnings she rose to be one of the most powerful women in Elizabethan Britain. Most recently Hardwick provided the inspiration for Malfoy Mansion in the Harry Potter film.
There are numerous places to picnic in and around Hardwick. The National Trust website has several specific suggestions. Hardwick is an excellent choice when the weather is less than ideal. The Stable yard has a good selection of picnic benches and if you're looking for shade or shelter to enjoy your lunch. There's also a café (currently open for takeaway only) and toilet facilities.
To visit Hardwick you must pre-book a ticket (although these are still free for National Trust members).
Chatsworth House is the jewel of the Peak District and probably my favourite place on earth. I adore the gardens and there are numerous picturesque spots for a picnic. However, you can save paying the entrance fee to the gardens by picnicking in the beautiful parklands. The 1,000-acre park on the banks of the River Derwent was designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in the 1760s. Climb up to the hunting tower for spectacular views, or sit across the river with a beautiful view of the house. You'll still need a car parking ticket which currently needs booking in advance.
Alternatively, if you're in splurge mode, treat yourself to a Chatsworth picnic hamper full of delectable treats. Order in advance and collect from the Cavendish Restaurant in the stables.
Picnic blanket (and chairs if you're exceptionally well prepared).
The food is obviously completely up to you. You can go as extravagant as you like and cater to the specific tastes and dietary requirements of your party. But as a basic minimum I would suggest:
Sandwiches (cheese is my favourite)
Something sweet - whether that's fruit and/or cake or a biscuit.
Something to drink. I like a bottle of water and a flask of tea/coffee.
To ring the changes you can add or swap in: sausages rolls, quiche, olives, cooked meats, houmous, and carrot sticks/breadsticks - or whatever your heart desires and/or fridge yields!
Why not consider supporting a local business by picking up a takeaway treat from your favourite deli, bakery, or coffee shop?
Have a lovely time!
Words: Molly Scott