Sunday, 25 April 2010

Mills and Dales - Day Three

Our final day in the Derbyshire Dales was spent doing something I have always wanted to do and that was to walk along Dovedale. Whenever we have visited this area before the weather hasn't been good or we haven't had time so on this break I was determined that we would finally get round to it - whatever the weather!

Luckily the weather was on our side this time


No, we weren't brave enough to cross the stepping stones but we did watch a few people get their feet soggy!

After our walk there was just enough time for coffee and cake so we headed for nearby Ilam Park, a National Trust owned property (with a lovely tea shop)

A latte and a slice of carrot cake later we just had time to soak up some more fantastic views before heading home.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Mills and Dales - Day Two

So after Fridays dull weather it was great to wake up to sunshine, there is something soooo satisfying about opening the caravan blinds and seeing blue sky!

As our main purpose for this break was to take advantage of the wonderful walking and cycling opportunities in the area we decided that today would be the day to cycle along the Tissington Trail.

The Tissington Trail follows the path of the old railway line from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay where it joins the High Peak trail. It is a flat (or so we thought ) traffic free route for cyclists, walkers and horse riders and we could join it just a stones throw from where we were staying.

On consulting our map it was a 10 mile ride into Ashbourne so we decided that the day would be spent by cycling in the morning followed by a pub lunch and a mooch around the shops then a cycle ride back in the afternoon.

It was a fantastic ride into Ashbourne, the sun shone and the scenery was amazing

On the way we did a slight detour and had a look around Tissington village. Tissington is a very pretty estate village with the rather grand Tissington Hall as its centerpiece.

We arrived in Ashbourne at lunchtime and had a pub lunch (and a well deserved cider) and a look around some of the lovely independent little shops.

Soon it was time to head back and we soon found that the trail had a gentle incline all the way back - hence a 10 mile uphill ride (OK so it was only slight but try telling that to my 10 year old son!)

By the time we arrived back it was time to settle down for the evening and we all looked forward to a good nights sleep.

Mills and Dales - Day One

I hope you have had a good Easter break.

This Easter we took ourselves off to the Derbyshire Dales in our caravan. Now I know caravanning is not classed as one of the trendiest ways to spend your holidays (unlike its close cool relative - camping ) however I can honestly say that buying our caravan is one of the best things we have ever done.

We are now onto our third 'van' and have been caravanning for 6 years and in that time have spent some wonderful family time holidaying all over the country.

This Easter we decided to revisit the Derbyshire Dales, basing ourselves 10 miles north of Ashbourne. This is an area that we love, the beauty of the countryside here is stunning and it is perfect for walking and cycling.

On Good Friday we woke to a dull, wet and grey day and as we are most definitely fair weather walkers we consulted various maps and leaflets to decided what to do. Not too far from us was a place called Masson Mills and it boasted a shopping village, cafe and museum.

On approaching we weren't sure what to expect - it boasted an Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Golf shop - not exactly what we had travelled to the Dales for but it had a cafe and I was in need of caffeine!

The shops were predictable but we mooched around as it was raining heavily by now and the setting was interesting as it was all housed in an old cotton mill. On the lower floor we found the cafe overlooking the River Derwent and as we sat drinking a welcome cup of coffee we notice a small sign pointing to the museum.

To be honest we weren't expecting much as it seemed like a bit of an afterthought - maybe a room with some information about the buildings past life as a cotton mill and the odd bit of machinery.

However we couldn't have been more wrong........

Its hard actually to put into words my thoughts on this place. To me it felt as if time had stood still and all the mill workers had just clocked off. Added to the fact that the three of us were the only people in the place it felt as if we had just stepped back in time.

I found it extremely interesting as I studied textiles at college and spent two years there learning how to weave although not on looms like this!

The Mill was built in 1783 by Sir Richard Arkwright and continued to be a working mill until 1991. It is a huge place and I could only imagine what it must have been like to work there with all that machinery going as most of the rooms were in silence while we were there.

In the shop we have recently introduced Bobbin String Holders which are made from rescued mill relics and as you would imagine there were bobbins a plenty here!

Even the ceiling of one room was covered in them!

Another item from the mills that we sell are used as part of the Cobblers Last Door Stops.

Distaffs are a tool used in the weaving industry used to hold fibres prior to spinning and here they had them by the bucket load.

It truly was a fascinating visit and to round the day off we had time for another of Arkwright's mills, this time Cromford Mill.

Here we just had time to walk along the canal and feed the ducks,

before the rain started again and we happily returned to our home on wheels to settle down for the evening..........