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Camping out in the Duke’s secret garden on the charming Chatsworth Estate.

As long as we have a kettle and heating we’ll be fine,’ said my camping companion Chloe.

‘Don’t fret, it’s luxurious,’ I replied. ‘It’s got a cooker, a shower, a toilet, and a soft, springy bed – it’s practically a mini-palace on wheels!’ Indeed it was.
As I kept reminding our friends before we set off on a three-day trip to Chatsworth in Derbyshire, Chloe and I had hired a motorhome, not a caravan. You tow a caravan, but you drive a motorhome.

I’m no stranger to camping, but the majority of my experience has been confined to pitching a tent at major music festivals. This was entirely different – a spacious site and modern facilities rather than a flimsy tent and trying to wash in the morning with only a wet wipe.

Before we arrived, we had been informed that Chatsworth is one of the loveliest parts of England – a claim I am happy to endorse.

The Chatsworth Park site, run by The Caravan Club, is situated within an old walled garden at the famous Chatsworth House estate, the home of the Duke of Devonshire. Upon arrival we were handed a key to a wooden door. Walk through it and you are in the estate’s 1,000-acre park – all very Secret Garden-esque.

I must have commented at least 20 times as we passed through the Peak District about how spectacular the scenery was – even the sheep looked fluffier. This region is picture-perfect – no wonder so many great artists have been inspired by it.

The gardens at Chatsworth are exquisite, and the house is one of Britain’s most impressive stately homes. Before we stepped foot inside, we checked out the family tree in the courtyard; Georgiana Cavendish lived here in the 18th Century with her husband, the 5th Duke – and his mistress.

Inside, the house was a Narnia-like wonderland – hundreds of candles (not real but clever glowing contraptions), an enormous stuffed toy lion and a White Witch stood regally at the top of the stairs in the Painted Hall. Three days isn’t long enough to explore the Peak District, but we did manage a trip to the bustling market town of Bakewell, home of the famous tart. Chloe and I had a delicious hot chocolate at the Lavender Tea Rooms in the town, which also serves scrumptious cakes.
Good food, welcoming people and gorgeous surroundings – camping doesn’t get better than this.

Chatsworth Park is one of over 200 campsites operated by The Caravan Club.

Christopher Macgowan