On a sunny day last year we headed to Derbyshire and Hardwick Hall, a stunning Elizabethan house built by Elizabeth Shrewsbury, best known as Bess of Hardwick. Rather than explore the house on this visit we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and go on some of the walks around the Estate and the gardens, which did however bring us close enough to admire the Hall.
There are a few walks around the park to choose from and, as we wanted to go towards the Great Pond, we turned off from the entrance of the house and proceeded down the Sculpture Walk of around 2.5 miles. As you’ll have no doubt worked out, the Sculpture Walk is a trail of sculptures made from materials found in the park by Richard Janes. Each one represents either the wildlife of the park or its Elizabethan history. I haven’t managed to find a comprehensive list of each sculpture online – most were easy to interpret, others less so. A few of my favourites are below.
This walk took us past the row ponds – where plenty of fishermen were at work – as well as the ice house tucked away in the side of a mound.
The Great Pond and Miller’s Pond were very pleasant to walk around, although there actually weren’t that many ducks or swans to be seen on our visit.
From here we walked up the hill – steeper than it looks! – and into the Hall’s gardens. Very little remains of Bess of Hardwick’s original garden but each of the four courtyards here are laid out as they would have been then. We were very impressed with the herb and vegetable gardens, including these large cabbages and marrows.
There were some also lovely flowers that the bees and a butterfly were certainly enjoying.
We then moved to the East Courtyard at the back of the house which is notable because it leads out to a field full of sheep (prevented from entering the gardens by a ha-ha) who were very interested in my presence!
This part of the garden also allows you to have a good look at the house – famed for having more glass than wall at a time when glass windows were extremely expensive.
And there was also a lovely statue of Bess of Hardwick hidden by the side of the house that I particularly liked.
All in all, well worth a visit. The Hall itself will feature in a later post, but for now you can find more pictures of the park and gardens here.