Night was falling fast, but I had to get one last walk in, to the Cobb – the old harbour area.
To get there, we walked right along the beach from town.
There were some pretty terraces along the way. This one was decorated with fossil ammonites, one of the more common species to be found in Lyme.
Even the lamp posts were sculptured like ammonites. I guess fossil hunting is major tourist attraction in these parts.
Soon we had a clear view of the old sea walls of the Cobb. Jane Austen used it well in her novel Persuasion – it is the place the main characters visited and the scene of a dreadful accident.
I’m having a short blog break and will return in a week or so with more on Lyme Regis.
We headed south west to Dorset, and the seaside town of Lyme Regis. The weather was noticeably milder – there was no snow on the ground, only rain in the air. Lyme Regis has been a popular destination for holidaying Brits since the 18th Century. My favourite author, Jane Austen, holidayed here with her family, and hubby was excited to be in the area where the sciences of geology and paleontology was born.
Lyme is another one of those towns in England that has been wonderfully preserved. The old town contained the same narrow streets and terraces, mills and bridges, as two hundred years ago, albeit with a few alterations. We stayed at the cute Old Lyme Guest House, which in the early 1800’s was the town’s post office. Being a 17th Century building, the rooms were atmospheric, if very cosy, with sloping floors and ceilings. You can imagine Jane Austen coming here to post her letters.
We took a walk at dusk down the canals that used to feed the old mill (now a cheesemonger and a brewery).
It didn’t take long to reach the sea, and a view of that wonderful Dorset coastline they called the Jurassic Coast.
We continued the ascent, passing trees long bare, and shrouded in snow.
Riber Castle, on the next hill, was almost always in view. Unlike other heritage buildings in the area, the castle is a 19th Century creation, and hence relatively new. Unfortunately, the upkeep has been too much for a succession of owners, and the castle is at present abandoned.
After an hour’s walk, we finally reached the top of the hill, at Geoff’s Seat.
It would be a lovely place to sit in summer, when you have views like this to contemplate on. In the middle of the snow, we took a few photos and continued on.
On the other side of the hill we again have views of Riber Castle, which sits above High Tor. We certainly climbed far that day!
That’s all from Derbyshire. Next time, we’re heading south to more hospitable climes.
We are still in the Peaks district for this series – we are walking up Masson Hill, which behind the B&B. It was the day after our visit to Chatsworth, and the weather hasn’t really improved.
But we walked anyway. Matlock was free of snow by this stage, as the early views of the town atest.
But the snow was quite thick on the ground as we ascended further up the hill.
We walked over countless stiles and through many fields. The snow was two inches deep in places. Soon we were high up above Matlock.
We braved the cold outside and found that the fountain had partially frozen over.
Even the ducks kept out of the water.
One last look at the grand house.
And we were back across the park to catch the bus back to Matlock.
There were more frescoed ceilings to gaze up on, particularly in the wing that formed the Royal Suites.
It was furnished in the late 17th Century for William III and his wife Mary II, hence why everything was so grand. Unfortunately, they never came. Other royalty did however visit the house – Queen Victoria visited it twice; once when she was still a princess, and later with Prince Albert.
One thing the Dukes had in common over the years was their love of art – there are works throughout the house, both classical and modern. There was also a separate sculpture gallery that housed precious busts from Ancient Greece, such as the one below.
As well as Italian sculptures from the Renaissance.
The gallery was conveniently located next to the dining room, so that guests could peruse the collection while waiting for dinner to be served. It however did not have a bust of Mr Darcy (aka. Actor Matthew Macfadyen) – he was in the gift shop!
The Downton Abbey-like sumptuousness continued in the dining hall. It still gets used occasionally in this way, but I wouldn’t want to be the one ironing the tablecloth or polishing the dinner service. In the old days before gas or electric lights, the maximum time allowed for a meal is four hours – the time it takes for the candles to burn out.
Hubby said he’d love to have a library like this. I would think there were a few rare books here.
The house was surprisingly light for an old place – it certainly wasn’t lacking in big windows.
Even though we didn’t venture out into the formal gardens (it was much too cold for that) we did get a sneak peak at them.
We entered Chatsworth House, and what an entrance it was.
The original house was Elizabethan but was added to over the years. The facade of the northern wing that we saw was an 18th Century creation, but in the entrance hall one could see the original Elizabethan vision, with its wonderful Italian fresco ceiling.
The grand staircase contained portraits of inhabitants past and present. The main painting of the horseman with sabre drawn was of the 1st Duke of Devonshire, who lived in the 17th Century.
It was getting colder by the minute.
We hoped that the house would appear soon. And it did.
Chatsworth is a grand old house, and very popular with visitors. There were quite a few in the house and in the grounds, and it was a weekday in the dreads of March. I imagine that there would be twenty times that amount on a nice July weekend.
We passed through the golden gates.
And into the inner garden, where there were lots of little things of interest.
Next, we enter the house proper.