I was in the UK from 19th December 2016 to 2nd Jan 2017 for a family holiday. Part of our 2 weeks holiday in London was to visit Chatsworth House, in Derbyshire.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
We took the Virgin train from London Euston to Stoke-on-Trent. The train tickets were bought a few weeks prior to the trip. The tickets to Stoke were GBP 105.60 (4 tickets x GBP 26.40) for economy seats, with a journey time of 1 hour 30 mins.
It was my first time on a Virgin train. I was surprised to see the interior was much nicer than the other UK trains that I’ve taken before.
I was impressed to see the facilities on the virgin train. They had a comfortable toilet, fully equipped with baby diaper station (now that I’m travelling with my 18 month daughter, these things matter). The cafe was well designed too. They sold all sorts of drinks, snacks, and magazines.
After arriving at Stoke-on-Trent station, I walked to Europcar to collect our rented car. It was just a 10 minute walk away. I rented the Audi A5 automatic as it was the only car with a big trunk available, and also because I wanted to try out the A5 😉
The rental for the Audi 5 was GBP322 for 2 days (inclusive of baby seat, insurance and 20% VAT). Yes, I was shocked to see the VAT was GBP50 (20%). Madness!
Anyway, after figuring out how the car works, we went to Portmeirion Factory Group. The place is apparently a well known shopping place for Malaysians. True enough, there were a bunch of Malaysians shopping there when we arrive.
Next stop was Trentham Home & Garden Centre. It’s a massive shopping mall specialising in garden deco. We also had late lunch here.
Afterwards, we headed to our 3rd destination, Burleigh Factory Shop. Established in 1851, Burleigh is well known as producers of fine craftsmanship.
From there, we headed to the Chatsworth estate. The drive from Stoke-on-Trent took about 1 hour 20 mins. Waze took us through pitch black streets through the open lands. I was kinda worried as it was completely dark and almost no other cars to be seen on the road. Our accommodation for the night is located in Pilsley, a small village in Derbyshire, and part of the Chatsworth estate.
As we arrived at the Devonshire Arms, we were greeted by the friendly receptionist. They showed us to our rooms. It was definitely much colder up here in the midlands, but the rooms made us feel cozy. The rooms were recently refurbished and it looks absolutely great. Honestly I didn’t expect a bed & breakfast to look that good!
Thursday, 22 December 2016
We woke up quite early that day, around 5AM. Breakfast was served at the pub. They had a decent continental breakfast selection, apart from other meals that you can order.
After breakfast, we went out to have a look at the surroundings. Pilsley looks very much like a typical English village from a 19th century period drama! I absolutely love it. Strolling through the village is absolutely refreshing from the usual bustling streets of London.
We went to the Chatsworth Estate Farm House to have a look at local products. They sell various food products such as sweets, biscuits, bread and meat, all from Chatsworth.
In the afternoon, we went for our prebooked tour of Chatsworth House. To my surprise, there were a lot of visitors (for a weekday!). The house was decorated in a Christmas theme. I was also most interested in learning about the history of the Cavendish family, the family that holds the title of Duke of Devonshire. Their history go way back to the 16th century. They are well known as the most wealthy and influential aristocratic families in England.
After our tour inside the house, we went to explore the surrounding gardens. We had a enjoyable walk around the impressive Emperor Fountain.
After our tour, we had the Wedgwood afternoon tea at the The Flying Childers. It was the perfect end to our visit to Chatsworth.
From there, we drove back to Stoke-on-Trent. I returned the rented car, and walked back to the train station. Given that our return time was off-peak (after 7PM) and on top of it, we got 20% off, I took the opportunity to buy First Class tickets. It was just GBP37.60 per person, which was a complete bargain!
With our First Class tickets, we were able to access the Virgin lounge at Stoke-on-Trent station. It was really comfortable. There were drinks station for softdrinks, juices, coffee and tea. A large toilet area, and easy access to the platform.
I was impressed with the interior of the first class cabin. They provide complementary snacks and drinks throughout the trip. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a photo as my little daughter was acting up, but the photo above (from raileurope.com) shows a similar interior.
We definitely enjoyed our trip to Chatsworth. If anything, it would have been great to stay another day longer. I look forward to exploring other parts of England, and even further up to Scotland, hopefully someday.