Today I visited two English Heritage properties located in a part of Derbyshire I haven't visited before; Bolsover Castle and Sutton Scarsdale Hall.
I don't have an Ordnance Survey map covering the area, so I downloaded one from the internet; as well as a bus timetable and a route guide for a circular walk from the castle to the hall, and back.
There was a spectacular view of the castle as the bus entered Bolsover: I was really looking forward to this visit after reading so many positive reviews online. I arrived about twenty minutes before the castle opened to the public and so I had a quick look around the town. Bolsover is a very pleasant, small market town; most of its buildings are made of the same type of sandstone as the castle, and there are several quaint pedestrianised streets and courtyards. I popped into a shop to buy a sandwich and a chocolate truffle bun. This was the heaviest bun I have ever held in my hand; it must have weighed the same as a small cannonball - it was delicious though.
According the the location maps that I found there are meant to be four lots of public toilets in the town centre - I couldn't find any of them and had to wait for a pee until I reached the castle.
Bolsover Castle isn't a typical mediaeval ruined castle; it dates from the seventeenth century and was more of a stately home than a castle...there was an older fortified castle on the site though.
Here's a link to the castle's Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolsover_Castle
Here are some photographs I took.
I spent nearly two hours walking around the castle. The audio commentary was very interesting and lively, and there's a bit of clever technology used which synchronises your commentary to the images being projected onto the wall in one of the rooms; the beer cellar.
With the map and the written instructions in hand I then set off for Sutton Scarsdale Hall, which I had spotted from the castle's battlements. It's about three miles away, but because of the imprecise and confusing directions, and old map which didn't depict the new bypass and an industrial estate, I walked considerably further.
The walk isn't particularly attractive, mainly across fields and down country lanes and farm tracks. By the time I got there the hazy sun which was attempting to break through the clouds as I was exploring the castle was nowhere to be seen. It was quite murky now, and a few degrees colder.
At one time Sutton Scarsdale Hall would have been very impressive, but it's only a shell now. It's quite a sad story how this happened.
Here's the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton_Scarsdale_Hall
I didn't stay very long; there wasn't that much to see, and there was a funeral being held in the church, right next to the ruins.
The walk back to Bolsover was much quicker since I didn't get lost - there were a couple of recently ploughed fields to cross though. It's always annoying, and hard work, when the farmer doesn't drive his tractor along the alignment of the footpath so that walkers are able to use the tyre tracks.
I arrived back at Bolsover thinking that I'd only have a few minutes to wait for the bus. I checked the timetable just in case though, and was glad that I did; the Sheffield to Mansfield service only runs every two hours - many small villages in the Peak District have a much better service than this.