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Review of Park Cottage, Chatsworth, Derbyshire

Park Cottage from back garden

Chatsworth House is a must-see if you're visiting the Peak District. Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, this world-famous historic house has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family, and features magnificent rooms packed with works of art. Outside, visitors can spend hours exploring the stunning gardens and grounds.

If you want to really immerse yourself in the historic atmosphere of Chatsworth, a stay at Park Cottage is highly recommended. This Grade II listed, 17th-century thatched cottage is owned by the Chatsworth Estate, and is located in the small village of Baslow, on the edge of Chatsworth Park.

Stepping into Park Cottage is like stepping back in time. Scrubbed wooden floors, antique furniture, and traditional fabrics (we especially loved the delicately embroidered curtains in the bathroom), combined with original features such as stone windowsills and beamed ceilings, create a truly atmospheric interior.

In 2011, the cottage was refurbished by the Duchess of Devonshire, with superb attention to detail. The inclusion of many modern touches makes your stay as comfortable as possible, while still retaining the historic character of the cottage.

So alongside the antiques and original features, you'll also find a lovely modern bathroom, and a fitted kitchen with painted wooden cabinets concealing a built-in dishwasher, washing machine, and fridge-freezer. There's also a flat-screen TV, iPod dock, and free, fast WiFi, so you can stay connected to the modern world – if you want to!

The cottage is at the end of a quiet lane, and you enter the front garden through a little wooden gate. This is painted in the same distinctive blue shade that's used for all the doors and gates on the estate.

The front door (also painted blue) opens into a spacious kitchen. There's a grandfather clock, and a huge wooden dresser displaying lovely colourful crockery.

Chatsworth House
Park Cottage living room
Park Cottage window
Park Cottage front gate

The living room has comfortable sofas and a fireplace with a wood-burning stove. A big basket of logs and kindling was left for us next to the fireplace – with plenty more logs that we could help ourselves to in the woodshed outside.

There's a small, cosy bedroom downstairs – but perhaps the biggest attraction of Park Cottage is on the upper floor, up a steep, narrow staircase that's subtly illuminated with inbuilt spotlights at floor level.

Park Cottage bedroom
Park Cottage master bedroom

Here we found the most spectacular master bedroom – a huge space with a high, vaulted ceiling and exposed cruck beams.

In the centre of this room is a four-poster bed unlike any other. Handcarved on the estate from locally sourced rhododendron wood, with a canopy of twining branches, getting into bed at night felt a little like climbing into a treetop nest.

The Chatsworth Estate has a Green Tourism Gold Award, and the estate's environmental policies include reducing energy consumption and minimising waste.

In Park Cottage we found eco-friendly Ecover cleaning products, and a divided bin in the kitchen that makes it easy for guests to recycle their plastic, glass and cardboard.

The complimentary toiletries in the bathroom were luxurious shower gel, shampoo and body lotion made by Noble Isle. This is a brand that takes environmental issues seriously, with all products British-made, cruelty-free, and presented in recyclable packaging.

Park Cottage garden snowdrops

Behind Park Cottage is a very private walled garden. It wasn't warm enough to sit outside during our stay, but this would be a wonderful green space to relax in during spring and summer.

There were lots of snowdrops in the garden – a fantastic, nectar-rich flower that supports insects emerging early from hibernation. And despite the cold weather, there were already shoots of pollinator-friendly perennials emerging in the flowerbeds.

Protecting biodiversity on Chatsworth Estate is of the utmost importance. Chatsworth is one of the partners in the Pollinating the Peak project (alongside Green Adventures' sister project Little Green Space) – a project, led by The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, that is helping to protect bumblebees in the Peak District.

The Chatsworth parkland has a remarkable wealth of biodiversity, and there is a wide range of habitats across the estate, including native broadleaved woodland, lakes, and streams. A recent survey found the estate was home to more than 600 veteran trees, as well as 250 species of fungi, 44 nationally scarce invertebrates, and six species of bat.

It's easy to explore the grounds from Park Cottage – you can walk directly from the door, follow a riverside footpath, and be in the park itself within a few minutes.

It takes about 20 minutes to walk from the cottage to Chatsworth House itself. You're very likely to see some of the resident deer along the way – look out for red deer (Britain's largest land mammal) and fallow deer, as well as all sorts of other wildlife.

Tree at Chatsworth
Chatsworth deer

When the house is closed during winter (usually from early January to late March, click here for opening times), you can still explore the beautiful grounds – and the shops, restaurant and café in the stable courtyard remain open year-round.

During our visit, we walked to the stables block for coffee and cake in the café, and then set off for a walk in the grounds. Climbing up from the house through woodland, we came to the fascinating 16th-century Hunting Tower. You can actually stay in this remarkable building, as it's one of the Chatsworth Collection holiday cottages.

Hunting Tower Chatsworth

During our visit, we walked to the stables block for coffee and cake in the café, and then set off for a walk in the grounds. Climbing up from the house through woodland, we came to the fascinating 16th-century Hunting Tower. You can actually stay in this remarkable building, as it's one of the Chatsworth Collection holiday cottages.

We continued through the woods to two picturesque lakes, and found ourselves at the very top of the famous Cascade, with fabulous views of Chatsworth, the gardens, and the Peak District.

Lakes at Chatsworth

The network of footpaths is extensive – you could set off from Park Cottage every day for a week and find a new route to explore.

If you want to treat yourself to a delicious meal out, the Cavendish Hotel, in Baslow, is just a short walk from Park Cottage – and is highly recommended. Cottage guests get a 10% discount on food when dining here, and also at The Devonshire Arms at Beeley and The Devonshire Arms at Pilsley.

Guests staying in Park Cottage also have a unique opportunity to get a glimpse behind the scenes at Chatsworth House. The 'Secrets & Surprises' tours, led by a specialist guide, run during the winter months when the house is closed to the general public – and are exclusively available to guests of Chatsworth Cottages, or guests staying at one of the Chatsworth Estate Hotels or Inns. Click here for more information.

Park Cottage is part of the Chatsworth Estate Holiday Cottage Collection. The collection features a range of charming, historic properties – from the Hunting Tower, with sweeping views across the Peak District, to the romantic, gingerbread-house-like Swiss Cottage – all sympathetically restored and beautifully situated.