The Peak District is a rich source of literary inspiration, which is why I’m here with my book club. We aren’t all insatiable readers, but we do love a good yarn.
We are staying in the village of Litton in Derbyshire, within striking distance of Wentworth and Chatsworth houses, two of Britain’s most feted private homes.
Our base is Littonfields Barn, which would suit friends or families travelling en masse. It’s comfortable, sleeping 12 with a brilliantly equipped kitchen and huge sitting room with a real fire.
Inspiring: The Peak District National Park offers sensational walks
The working farm is run by owners Bridget and Andrew, who are accommodating hosts, loaning (squeaky-clean) wellies.
Our first visit is to Wentworth, which this year was sold for £7 million to the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust.
Built in the 1720s, it looks like a vast Italianate villa with grand staircase entrance for visitors such as King George and Queen Mary, who stayed in 1912.
They weren’t the only celebrated guests. Kick Kennedy (JFK’s sister) and ballerina Anna Pavlova came, too. There were lavish parties, funerals, family tragedies.
Read about it, as we did, in Catherine Bailey’s gripping Black Diamonds. The house is so vast that guests were given rose petals so, like Hansel and Gretel, they could find their way back to bed.
It gets chillier the further in you go, so we are glad to return to cosy Litton and the Red Lion pub.
Daily Mail’s Jenny Coad checked into Littonfields Barn with her book club, a homestay which sleeps 12 with a ‘brilliantly equipped kitchen and huge sitting room with a real fire’
The venue features many original features including exposed brickwork and wooden ceiling beams
The village is quiet, filled with stone houses dating from 1768, but on a Saturday night the Red Lion does a roaring trade serving portions fit for serious walkers. There’s barely room for Bakewell tart, a local speciality.
Stomping to the plague village, Eyam, a six-mile walk the next day, is a refresher.
Eyam quarantined itself during the 1665 plague in which 259 villagers died. The Plague Museum details ‘cures’, such as placing live toads on the boils.
There’s a replica of the vinegar stone, where goods or letters were exchanged, and coins disinfected with vinegar.
Novelist Geraldine Brooks imagines what it must have been like in the Year Of Wonders.
Confession: we don’t make it to Chatsworth House. But we’re saving the Mitfords for another weekend.