Urban district of Derbyshire (6 miles east of Chesterfield).
PLACES OF INTEREST:
1.Bolsover Castle (English Heritage site) (2001 prices: Adult £5, Concessions £3.80, Children over 5 £2.50, Children under 5 Free). Open all year 10am to 4pm (5pm in October and 6pm March to September).
I highly recommended that the tour of this beautiful awe-inspiring building be taken alongside reading the Official Guide Book and take advantage of the FREE audio tour. Many people wander around the site aimlessly and do not truly understand what they are seeing. The audio tour takes you logically around the site and gives you information about what you are seeing. In addition, there are extra bits you can listen to which are reenactments of what went on (for example, dances performed for a Royal visit in the long hall and the food that was prepared there is described by a cook).
English Heritage special events held here most Bank Holidays and during the Summer Holidays - very varied selection from Queen Victoria and Scottish Dancing, to World War 1 German battles, to Charles 1 and the Cavaliers/Roundheads fighting (well worth a visit - quite often no additional fee) Coffee shop available. Dedicated car park close to main gate (when events are held there are additional car parks signposted, sometimes with transport laid on free to the Castle Gate). My boyfriend and I regularly visit and enjoy theise reeanctments especially the war related ones or Knights of the Round table. Children often get roped into helping at these events e.g. musket drill or shooting arrows - sometimes there is a small cost involved. Not having any children I can not comment further on this.
More information from 01246 822844. NB Group discount of 15% for groups of 11 or more members. Disabled visitors welcomed but the Little Castle area may be too difficult for less able-bodied visitors and not suitable for wheelchair users, as it is mainly spiral staircases with about 10 steps at the entrance. Please note I joined English Heritage in 2002 and therefore now get free entry so the prices may have gone up.
2. Every October, there is a firework display at the Castle organised by the Council, from about 7pm with entertainment provided by the local radio station Peak 107FM. More information available from The District of Bolsover on www.bolsover.gov.uk or email email@example.com. It is usually the last Saturday of the month and includes laser displays, charity stalls, Peak107FM road show, children's entertainers, and a fun fair in the town itself. Fun fair from 2pm, Opens about 5pm and fireworks at 7pm.
Ticket only event and tickets sell out well before the night - you have been warned! Tickets about £4.50 (2004 prices- under 5s free). Tickets are also available from Bolsover Castle, Clowne District office, Bolsover council offices, Shirebrook and South Normanton district offices or Creswell or Kissingate (Shirebrook) leisure centres. This years theme (2005) is Gunpowder Treason Plot as it is the 400th anniversary this year and is on 29 October.
24hr credit card box office 0115 9129000 or book online at www.wayahead.com - believe that there is a booking fee payable per ticket of about 50p a ticket on both these services.
Postal service available from 01246 242382 (reserve ticket by phone and then send a cheque payable to the District of Bolsover for the required amount). Postal service not available after 22 Oct.
UPDATE 2005. This service is no longer available and can only pay by debit card when ringing Bolsover District council, Oxcroft Lane, Bolsover on 01246 240000. Unsure if can pay by cheque or cash if you visit the District offices listed below:
Clowne District Office, 9 Church Street (Ticket Hotline 01246 242600)
South Normanton District Office, 124a Market Street (Ticket Hotline 01246 242660)
Shirebrook District Office, 2a Main Street (Ticket Hotline 01246 242630)
Also available from Bolsover castle and Creswell Leisure Centre, Duke Street (Ticket Hotline 01909 721371) and Kissingate Leisure Centre, Park Road, Shirebrook (Ticket Hotline 01623 748313)
My boyfriend and I go regularly to this event and the amount of people who have been, because of our recommendation is amazing. I started going with just my boyfriend and now I regularly take his mother and a friend of ours too. This year (2006), I am to get tickets for 2 other friends! I would very highly recommend that you visit this event. It is great fun.
Disabled viewing area provided. Free shuttle service from car park to Castle for all guests not just disabled. No dogs allowed.
3. Every December, there is a Victorian lights parade through the town to the Castle organised by the Council, from about 4pm with entertainment provided by the local radio station Peak 107FM. More information available from The District of Bolsover on 01246 242324 or www.bolsover.gov.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It is usually the first Saturday of the month and includes lantern workshops (earlier in the day), charity stalls, children's entertainers, and a fun fair in the town itself, as well as the parade. Many people dress up in period costume and there are occasionally craft stalls. You may need to book the craft workshops - various locations in 2001 including the Library (Tel 01246 823179) and prices were between £2 and £4 depending on the lantern size.
Never been when this is on, as usually busy at a St John Christmas fair but they usually put a small display similar on at the firework display to advertise it so have seen a clip as it were. Seems to be I need to try and get to see this!
4. In nearby Creswell you can visit the Creswell Crags - world famous limestone gorge with caves and lake (not visited yet myself as an adult) Open February to October between 10.30 and 4.30, November to January open Sundays only same times. Free car parking. 2001 prices - cave tour Adult £1.95, child £1.45, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £5.75. Booking advisable - free car parking. More information from 01909 720378, visitor centre, Crags Road, Welbeck nr Worksop. There is a museum and audio-visual visitor centre.
Visited when at school and can't remember much about this but was in the papers recently because it has found cave paintings.
5. Bolsover Town Trail takes about 1 hour (2 to choose from) and includes 17th century buildings on the Market Place, 18th century Derbyshire stone houses on Middle Street, the Library (built 1976) with local limestone, the Church of St Mary and Lawrence and the church yard including a grave of the clockmaker Thomas Hinde, and the Conduit House built in 1626 (all in trail 1). Trail 2 is optional and adds about 20 minutes to look at the town entrenchments. I have not personally tried either trail so cannot say how difficult the terrain is.
6, Market Days are Tuesdays and Fridays.
Other local attractions:
 Cromford - Black Rocks, Cromford canal, Arkwright's Mill/Craft Centre
 Bakewell - Haddon Hall, Bakewell Agricultural Show in August
 Baslow - Chatsworth Hall
 Matlock and Chesterfield - see separate articles
 Bonsall - noted for its lead mines and well dressing ceremonies
 Tansley - noted for its numerous garden centres and Public Houses.
 Wirksworth -Heritage Centre, Middleton Top Engine House & visitor centre near High Peak trail.
DIRECTIONS: From M1 (jnc 29) choose A617 (towards Chesterfield) at Hornsbridge railway bridge roundabout take the second exit, past MFI, to Markham road island, turn right at the island onto A632 (signposted to Chesterfield Hospital and Bolsover). Follow this road, under the railway bridge, past 2 sets of traffic lights (Spital Cemetery on right) up the hill (Chesterfield Hospital on left as going into a dip). Carry straight on at hospital traffic lights into Calow. At mini roundabout (Brimington turnoff) carry straight on to next set of traffic lights (after v. bad bend) (near Calow Green turnoff) Go straight on to large roundabout (Arkwright to the left) Take 2nd turnoff (i.e. go straight on) past New Arkwright Town - Old Arkwright Town was on the right (whole village had to be moved to new position due to subsidence). Carry on this road (beware of traffic lights and standing traffic in the dip (Staveley turnoff), right hand bend up past Sutton cum Duckmanton and Long Duckmanton on left. There is a Total garage on right at the top of the hill (if you need petrol, provisions etc). Carry on this road past the coal piles (maybe a new mini roundabout at this location - being built) where 2 roads go off to the left, one to Staveley, go down the hill (the Castle should be in view in the distance about at this point) under a bridge to a round about. Straight on up the hill (Bolsover to the left and above - Carr Vale to the right). Be careful as you enter Bolsover itself, as there is a road to the left, (and they have a v. limited view to the right so may come out unexpectedly). Turn right onto Castle Street for the Castle just after this street on the left - please note Castle Street is closed whenever there is a fun fair (as they use it for the fair). Alternative parking is available in the Co-op Car Park and the District of Bolsover council offices car park (events car parking signposted to the latter).
One of the first things you see as you approach Bolsover from Chesterfield is the imposing sight of Bolsover Castle. As you get nearer it seems to loom overhead and gets closer and closer as you climb the steep hill up to the town. Once you have reached the summit and enter Bolsover the castle becomes obscured by the buildings and you will now be on the same level as the castle.
It isn't hard to see why Bolsover built up where it did. Sited on the top of the steep hillside, guarded by the impressive looking castle, this little market town has become a bustling community and a popular tourist destination. The hill made it the perfect place to defend ~ anybody trying to attack the settlement would be clearly seen by those guarding. The town (which was originally fortified) has since built up around the castle grounds and the district has spread considerably.
Now the only people attacking the town are tourists and shoppers, eager to explore the castle, pubs and shops.
~~~WHERE IS BOLSOVER?
Bolsover can be found in the north east of Derbyshire, around 6 miles east of where I live (in Chesterfield) and 14 miles south east of Sheffield. It can be accessed from either junction 29 or 30 of the M1 ~ it is sign posted from their and can be easily seen because of the castle.
The town lies between the Peak District and the edge of Sherwood Forest and is a place renowned for its history and beautiful views. It used to be a big Coal Mining area, but the mines closed and the town now relies on tourism and farming.
There is a car park in the centre (not far from the library) ~ it isn't very big, but it is free! Bolsover is also served by a pretty good bus service, linking the town with the surrounding area.
~~~WHAT IS THERE TO SEE?
A visit to Bolsover would have been wasted if you don't get to see the castle and its grounds. The actual address of the building is (funnily enough) Castle Street and the building and grounds are now maintained by English Heritage (full details of opening times and charges can be found on their website www.english-heritage.org.uk). There has been a castle on this site since the 12th Century, but the main keep and bailey that is there today dates from Elizabethan times.
The castle was originally the home of the Peveril family (if you remember my previous review of Castleton you will have seen that the castle there is called Peveril Castle), a powerful family during the years following the Norman Conquest. The castle fell into disrepair over the years until the Cavendish family rebuilt it in the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Now there is a lovely central keep, enclosed by the outer Court and the Great court, which also contains the beautifully restored Riding School and Terraces. My favourite bit is really the Little Castle in the Inner Court ~ very atmospheric and steeped in history. The Castle is also haunted ~ they have Ghost walks and the place also appeared on Famous and Frightened (a TV show where celebrities had to spend time in a haunted location).
The Castle is now licensed for Civil Weddings and I think it would an absolutely magical, if very pricey, venue. The castle is also a setting for a variety of Special Events during the year. This year I have been to a display of horses through the ages and a few re-enactments of battles. We also try to get to the annual Food and Drink Fair which is held in the grounds. I would recommend this one especially because it is one of the few times you will get in the castle for free!
There has been a church in Bolsover since about 650 AD. There has been a church there ever since ~ although the majority of it was destroyed by fire in the late 19th Century and the early 1960s. The only really old bit that remains of St. Mary's is the 400 year old Cavendish Chapel, with fine wood and plaster work and the tombs of the Cavendish family who rebuilt the castle. The building is a real mix of different styles ~ the fires and other traumas have left it with a blend of Norman, Gothic and modern architecture.
There are quite a few pubs in Bolsover, but only four I drink in ~ and only one of them regularly. The pubs that I go in are the ones that serve Real ale (I've called in the others to ask if they do and have been met with blank looks). The pubs I visit are:
The Hudson Bay ~ a modern looking pub built from the house (on Cragg Street) of the mother of Peter Fidler; one of the men who made the Hudson Bay Company famous. The pub has a seating area outside, comfy sofas and cut out areas in the floor (covered with plastic) where you can view some of the original bits of the old house.
The Black Bull Inn ~ A nice pub on Hill Top, serving a selection of beers and some rather nice (and interesting) meals. They serve ostrich, kangaroo and crocodile, along with more traditional choices.
The White Swan ~ This pub is directly on the Market Place in the town centre. It used to be the town's Moot Hall (a kind of court house) and is a very old and interesting building. Beer wise, this place actually serves it Real Ale via an electric pump rather a hand pump ~ very unusual and not something I come across very often. They don't do food though!
The Blue Bell ~ This is my favourite pub and one I have reviewed previously for Ciao. It is on High Street, not far from the library and a couple of doors away from the local undertakers! The licensees do a lot for local charities and the pub is a great one to visit for a nice atmosphere, good beer and to see the comfortable two roomed local. Like the White Swan they don't do food, but if you are lucky you might find a Beer Festival, Fun Run or Pantomime going on!
Bolsover isn't a big place but it does have a fair selection of shops. There is a Co-op and a Somerfield for everyday shopping, along with a variety of smaller and specialist shops (butchers, hardware shops and a couple of gift shops). They also hold a general market on Cotton Street on Tuesdays and Fridays and a Flea Market on Thursday mornings.
Most people go to Chesterfield for the shops and just use the shops in Bolsover for everyday shopping. There are also the usual supply of banks, takeaways and a chemist. I usually go there to have a look around the market, but my main reason for visiting is not for shopping.
~~~SO WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT?
I think you have probably gathered that I like this little town a lot. Granted, there are some less pretty and historic areas in the housing estates that have grown up around the centre, but there is enough to see and enough going on to make it a great place to visit. Bolsover Castle is lovely, there are some great pubs and places to eat and there is a nice community feel to the place.
When we did the Fun Run over the May Bank Holiday weekend earlier this year the whole of the town turned up, many dressed in fancy dress and most donated money. The atmosphere was great and local businesses and pubs got involved too. This illustrates the way that Bolsover is!
It is a nice and friendly place that is full of history. A recommended destination for a family day out!