The house is an elaborate treasure trove of fine art and opulent architecture, the result of the decadence of dukes past — the Devonshire family being historically one of the richest in England. The gardens are an attraction in their own right, with glorious vistas at every turn and dotted with sculptures. Also worth a visit is the estate’s farm shop, a few miles from the main entrance, which overflows with taste bud-tingling fresh produce.
Knightley is in fact a Chatsworth regular, having also shot scenes for the 2005 film of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice there. As everyone’s favourite heroine Elizabeth Bennet, she shares a “moment” with a veiled statue before encountering a marble bust of her love nemesis, Mr Darcy, played in the movie by Matthew Macfadyen.
If Colin Firth is your only Darcy, however, the definitive Pride And Prejudice screen moment comes as, shirt sodden, he strides towards his manor in the 1995 BBC adaptation. The Beeb scouts deferred to Austen in their search for a location (the novel mentions Elizabeth had already visited Chatsworth before arriving at Pemberley) and plumped instead for Lyme Hall, 20 miles away in Cheshire. The nearby village of Longnor doubled as Lambton.
Speaking of brooding period drama heroes, Toby Stephens set pulses racing as Mr Rochester in the 2006 serialisation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, filmed at Haddon Hall. Scenes from 1998’s Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett as England’s virgin queen, were also shot there, along with the story of Elizabeth’s parents, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, in this year’s big screen version of The Other Boleyn Girl.
Back in Brontë world, Emily’s epic Wuthering Heights has been filmed for ITV using the Dark Peak as a backdrop for the bleak tale of thwarted love.
And if all that talk of literature has left you cold, try this: The League Of Gentlemen’s Royston Vasey is in fact Hadfield village.
The Peak District National Park — Britain’s first — was established in 1951. It falls neatly into two areas: the imposing Dark Peak in the north, and the gently rolling White Peak in the south. It’s now visited by an estimated 22 million tourists a year, making it the second most popular national park in the world, after Japan’s Mount Fuji.
Although the park is chiefly in Derbyshire, it extends into several neighbouring counties. Manchester is the nearest city. The Pennines, a long ridge of mountains known as the backbone of England, rise here and run north to Scotland.
What and why?
The region is special because of the underlying limestone. The Dark Peak sits on millstone grit, creating a rich, peaty ecosystem of steep valleys and moorland plateaus.
The ridges glow purple with heather in summer, contrasting with the bottle green bracken, black forests and parched yellow grass.
In the White Peak the gritstone has worn away to leave each hilltop with a distinctive punk hairdo. This is farming country, lurid green grass criss-crossed by drystone walls as far as the eye can see. Coupled with the dramatic skies and changing light of the temperamental weather, the area’s breathtaking natural beauty is captivating.
Take the waters and admire the grand architecture in this historic spa town.
Get underground to the area’s magnificent limestone caves.
Set out on the Pennine Way or watch paragliders above Mam Tor from this scenic valley.
Tuck into the famous pudding in this quaint market town.
Drink in the awesome view from this gritstone ridge.