Who are you?
I’m Kay Hutson, wife of Practical Caravan contributor Nigel Hutson. We are keen caravanners, and I’ve been touring with Nigel for the past 22 years.
Why are you a local authority on Hope Valley?
To me, Hope Valley, in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District, is home. I lived on the family farm there until I was 21, and my four siblings still live in the valley.
What do you love about it?
I love the scenery; the rugged crags and hills are very familiar to me. There’s so much to see and do within a small area, from wandering around the ancient streets of the villages to full-on walking and cycling. Hope Valley really has it all – provided you don’t want towns!
What’s your favourite place to visit in the area?
I have to say Hathersage, as that’s ‘my’ village. In the churchyard, you’ll find the grave of Robin Hood’s lieutenant Little John, and down in the village, there’s the open-air-swimming pool, first opened in 1936. It’s heated, so the water is always pleasantly warm.
On the outskirts of the village, you’ll find the David Mellor cutlery factory and design museum, and of course, there are numerous cafés and shops.
Author Charlotte Brontë stayed at the vicarage in Hathersage in the summer of 1845, and is thought to have used nearby North Lees Hall as inspiration for Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre.
Elsewhere in the area are Castleton, with its caves, famous Blue John stone and Peveril Castle, Stanage Edge (where Keira Knightley admired the view in Pride and Prejudice), Mam Tor (Shivering Mountain), and the dams of Derwent Valley, used by the RAF when training for the Dambusters Raid. Where do I stop?
Which campsites would you recommend, and why?
Castleton Caravan and Motorhome Club site, although it’s busy at weekends and holiday times. An alternative is Laneside Caravan Park, at Hope. Both are easily accessible and offer a good base for exploring the area.
What food and drink is the area known for?
Nearby Bakewell is, of course, famous for its delicious puddings. Another tasty local speciality is the oatcake, a kind of flatbread or pancake.
Tell us somewhere great to eat!
Bank House is very popular with the locals, which is always a good sign. As the name suggests, it’s located in a former bank! The menu is Mediterraean, but most of the produce is locally sourced.
For more traditional fare, the Old Hall Hotel takes some beating. It has an excellent selection of real ales, too.
If you fancy traditional fish and chips, Bradwell Fisheries, on the main street in Bradwell, is the place to go.
Where can you get spare kit?
In Hathersage, there are specialist outdoor shops, selling camping gear,
Where can you find the cheapest petrol/diesel?
Sickleholme Service Station (Texaco), on the A6187 at Bamford, or Barons of Hathersage, in the centre of the village (which also has a Spar shop and a post office). The fuel is generally reasonably priced, so it’s not worth traipsing for miles to save a few pence per litre.
Where should you avoid?
Nowhere is the short answer, but it is important to be aware that Hope Valley is a hugely popular tourist destination these days, so everywhere can become very busy, especially at peak holiday times and weekends, which means that parking can be at a premium.
If there’s a flypast by the famous Lancaster bomber over the Derwent Dam, to can be mayhem!
Share a highlight only a local would know…
This is a frequently visited region, so there are probably very few secrets remaining in the area, but one walk that we love to do takes you from Hathersage, along the River Derwent, to Grindleford, usually with at least a coffee at Grindleford Station Café (not in the station, but next to it).
As you enter Grindleford, you pass Padley Chapel, and the ruins of the Manor and Gatehouse, all of which date from the 14th century.
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