We have recently visited Renishaw Hall Vineyard, one of the most northerly vineyards in Europe and certainly the most northerly British award-winning vineyard. We were able to walk around the vineyard and also have a taste of the fantastic wines produced by the Estate.
Renishaw Hall has been home of the Sitwell family for more than 400 years. The vineyard is one of the more recent additions to the Estate having been planted a mere 40 years ago! For the past couple of years the vineyard has been under the management of Kieron Atkinson.
The vineyard was surprising small at just two acres. This small walled vineyard manages to produce approximately 5 tonnes of fruit annually, that can be converted into about 5,000 bottles of wine. Once harvested, the grapes are transported to a winery in Staffordshire where it stays until bottled.
It was fascinating to listen to Keiron. He is amazingly knowledgeable and obviously extremely passionate about producing great quality English wine. The challenges of an English summer mean that he is constantly reviewing his decisions for the resulting crop and how it is to be processed at the winery. The cold spring, dry June and warm summer of 2013 should mean that the grape sugars are higher resulting in great potential for a fabulous vintage. Harvesting will not take place for another month or so yet, so fingers crossed for the last few weeks of growing.
Despite the horrible weather conditions for the past couple of years, the still and sparkling white wines from Renishaw have won national and international awards. Just think what the 2013 vintage might be capable of!
The vineyard is about 30 miles from the holiday cottages.
Visit Peak District, the local tourist authority, are putting together a list of the top 10 things to do, see and experience in the Peak District and Derbyshire. They have asked us (and all the other members) for our personal recommendations in order to compile their list.
So here’s a sneaky preview at what we have submitted. We’ll let you know if it agrees to the Visit Peak District list when we see it!
- Take a walk – doesn’t really matter where you start, there is so much gorgeous countryside to take in. We have maps in the cottages and a couple of ideas for walks from the door.
- Visit a well dressing – associated in particular with Derbyshire and the Peak District, well dressing is believed to have started following the Great Plague. It is believed that clean well water kept residents safe from the water-borne disease. In thanksgiving, village wells are “dressed” or decorated with pictures constructed using natural materials embedded in a clay filled wood frame.
- Try a proper Bakewell pudding (from Bakewell of course!) and not to be confused with a Bakewell tart.
- Chatsworth – has it all – historical house, amazing gardens, children’s farmyard and adventure playground and beautiful riverside and woodland walks not to mention restaurants, cafes and a farm shop.
- Haddon Hall – beautiful, un-spoilt medieval house and Tudor gardens for contrast with Chatsworth
- Buxton Festival – music, literature, guided walking tours of the town, fringe. Three weeks each July
- Have a pub lunch – lots of great choice. There are recommendations in the cottages (and we can add our two pennyworth too!)
- Visit a cave – Poole’s Cavern in Buxton or one of several in the Hope Valley give an insight to the geology of the area and some of the ancient trades in Derbyshire.
- Take to the country lanes for a cycle ride. Use the trails if you want to avoid the hills. Hire an electric bike if you don’t want to do the pedaling!
- Sit outside one of the holiday cottages and watch the world go by (although nothing will be moving particularly quickly)
The 11th and 12th August will be best nights this year to watch the Perseid meteor shower. Our holiday cottages are in a great rural location with very little ambient light to spoil the show.
The meteors originate from a comet, Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years. As the earth travels through the trail of the comet pieces of icy dust left by the comet burn up in our atmosphere.
Just in case you are wondering, we are unlikely to be on a collision course with the comet for another 2000+ years – phew!
The best view will be in the earlier hours before dawn after the moon has set. We can provide garden chairs, a flask and rugs to keep you warm. You just need to look northeast and be patient!
The weather at the moment doesn’t look like it is going to co-operate but we live in hope.
The best dates for next year will be 12th and 13th August if you want to get your Peak District holiday booked!
Chatsworth has recently been voted in the top 10 UK visitor attractions by TripAdvisor users. Only 10 miles away from Hayloft and Byre holiday cottages, it is well worth a visit. Here are a few lesser known facts about Chatsworth and its estate.
The village of Edensor was originally much closer to Chatsworth House. The Fourth Duke of Devonshire felt that the village spoiled his view so he had the entire village (apart from one house) moved! It is reported that when the Duke was presented with the proposed designs for the new village houses, he could not make up his mind so had one built of each design.
Did you know that the Emperor Fountain is a Grade II listed building! The fountain is completely gravity fed. The water flows naturally from the moorland above Chatsworth into the Emperor Lake. Pipework then brings it down the hill to the fountain. It is capable of reaching 90m (290 feet) but is usually “turned down” a bit to save water.
More than 100 people work in the Farm Shop and Restaurant – and, by the way, the cherry scones are THE best
There are more than 1,200 yew trees that make up the maze in the Chatsworth Gardens. That is a lot of hedge trimming!
Chatsworth has been undergoing a huge project of restoration and conservation in the past few years. 2,200 square metres of stonework has been cleaned, 1.25 tonnes of lime mortar has been used to re-point the facades and 42 windows have been re-gilded with 24 carat gold leaf which look amazing, especially when the gold catches the sunlight!. I have been trying to find out (unsuccessfully) how much gold leaf has been used – perhaps someone can tell me?
Today was the 4th annual High Peak Road Race, a 42 mile cycle race, and promoted by two of the oldest Sheffield cycle clubs. The cyclists complete a 7 mile circuit 6 times, taking in the ups and downs of the Peak District, and come right past our front door. Today it has been breezy but at least it was dry! I did hear at least one cyclist asking for the wind to be turned off though!!
This year the race has been raising awareness and funds for “the uk sepsis trust” (sometimes known as septicaemia)
There are other cycle events planned for the summer, many for the “not-so elite” cyclists (like most of us), culminating in 9 days of Peak District Cycling Festival from 7th September.
See you there