Chatsworth House © Rob Bendall
Home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House is one of Europe's greatest private houses. It is set on the River Derwent in the Peak District National Park. The estate comprises the 16th-century house, a 1,000-acre park, a farmyard, miles of free walking trails and spectacular gardens. Dubbed the 'Palace of the Peak', the house contains a treasure trove of antiques and impressive art works, some dating back 4,000 years. Thirty of the magnificently preserved rooms are open to the public. Wardens are on hand to provide information and answer questions, while an audio guide is also available. The manicured gardens boast a yew maze, sculptures and several impressive fountains including the Cascade, a 24-step waterfall that drops 600ft (183m) down the hill towards the house. There is a well-stocked farm shop selling locally produced and home-grown items, as well as the Farmyard Children's Shop, the Carriage House Shop, Orangery Shop and Garden Shop. There are several restaurant options to choose from, and picnicking in the grounds is encouraged.
Chatsworth House has appeared in the recent film adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and the house plays host to several exciting events throughout the year. It is well worth allocating several hours to explore this fine historic estate and its gardens, while those on a tighter budget can enjoy the dramatic surrounds of the park for free.