England Destinations National
Eyam Village (Derbyshire, England)
Eyam in Derbyshire is an unlikely tourist destination, yet every year it attracts thousands of people. Although it is a picturesque little village in the heart of Derbyshire that has existed in some form or other as a settlement since Roman times, its notoriety ultimately derives from a period of roughly fifteen months in the late 17th ... century.
A Quick History Lesson
During the summer of 1665, a resident of Eyam received a package of cloth from London. Finding the cloth to be damp on its arrival, he hung it in front of the fire to dry. This awakened some dormant plague bacteria in the cloth and within a week, he was dead. As the plague ravaged the village, the local Rector, William Mompesson persuaded many of the villagers to shut themselves off from the outside world to prevent spreading the disease to the rest of Derbyshire. This brave decision was a death sentence for many of the villagers as, over the course of September 1665-November 1666, many succumbed to the disease. It is estimated that out of a pre-plague population of around 350 (some put it higher), around 80 survived.
Although only a small village, Eyam is highly accessible. It sits in the centre of the Peak District and is easy to reach from Sheffield, Manchester or other parts of Derbyshire. Probably the easiest route is to head towards Bakewell on the A6, following the signs to Stony Middleton and then to Eyam. The approach to Eyam is up a steep hill, but all the roads are well maintained and should offer no problems for anyone in a car.
On arrival in Eyam, you will be directed to one of two car parks at the upper end of the village. The first is a pay and display one which costs (on average) about a pound an hour. However, literally next door is a free car park and I'd advise trying here first. The only downside is that both car parks are relatively small and at the peak of summer, I suspect that parking could be an issue.
The most pleasing thing about Eyam today is that although it is a significant tourist attraction it has not sold out to the tourist dollar (or pound, Euro or yen). Its development has been well-managed so that it can continue to function as both a village community and a tourist site. Places and buildings of significance are clearly identified by green plaques which are easy to spot and contain information about the history of that particular building, whilst a number of well-written information boards are posted throughout the village. Many relate to the plague year, although there are a few that point out the historical significance of other buildings, reminding visitors that Eyam is not just about the plague. It has not sold out or become "Disney-fied" and has managed to strike a good balance between tourist spot and local community.
Things to see
It is the terrifying, yet touching story of the plague that will attract most visitors and there are a number of well-maintained sites to visit. A map (obtainable from the tourist information point in the village) is essential to make sure you don't miss anything out as the sites are scattered throughout the village.
These include the Riley Graves (see below), the boundary stone and Mompesson's Well, which marked the area beyond which villagers could not go and where food was left for them by the outside world. The church, too, is well worth visiting. Inside, there is a memorial book which records the names and dates of death of all known victims. This really brings home the personal impact of the disease. The church also contains some a fascinating and very well-written display providing background information about the plague in Eyam and which combines general information with more personal, touching stories.
Don't be too quick to just look at these items and go, though, since the church itself - regardless of its plague connection - is a beautiful building and well worth taking time to look around.
Almost everywhere you go in Eyam, there is a tragic story. Cottages bear plaques indicating who lived and died there. Many families lost significant numbers (including one poor woman who lost her husband and all her children, only to remarry and see her new husband succumb to the disease.) Then, there is the case of the Hancock family, where the mother was the sole survivor, having to bury her six children and husband over a period of just seven days. Their graves (the Riley Graves) can still be seen on the outskirts of the village and are a poignant reminder of the terrible fate of some of the villagers.
When I arrived at Eyam, I thought we would probably spend a maximum of two hours there. In fact, we were there for at least double that and even then we didn't see everything (Eyam Hall was shut for the season when we visited; we also didn't visit the museum). Better still, the whole day cost us virtually nothing: car parking was free, as are most of the sites (only the museum and the Hall charge). Our only expense was some light refreshments from one of the coffee shops. There are not many places where you can experience such a fascinating, inspiring and emotional day for absolutely nothing.
One thing you do need to bear in mind in Eyam is that there is quite a lot of walking involved, as the various plague sites are scattered throughout the village and surrounding area. Many of the key sites (the church, the plague cottage) are clustered in the middle of the village and are easily accessible. A few, though, involve walking across fields or along stony tracks - some of which are up steep hills. This includes Mompesson's Well, the Riley Graves and the Boundary Stone. Although none of the walks are particularly long (the furthest is about 0.5 miles out of the village), they are all in different directions, so you do find yourself backtracking quite a bit. However, given how beautiful the village and the surrounding area are, this is no great hardship, providing you are reasonably fit. Given the nature of the village, you would also be advised to visit Eyam on a nice day, as almost everything you do is outdoors.
Thanks to its historical significance, Eyam can get incredibly busy. As well as being a popular tourist spot, it is also a destination for school trips and even when we went (in mid September) it was packed with schoolchildren and tourists. The good thing is that since there are a variety of sites to visit, you can choose your own route and if one site is busy, you can simply move onto the next one and return later.
Eyam is a deeply moving place to visit and should be on the list of anyone who finds themselves in Derbyshire. It might not be the biggest place in the world, but it is safe to say that it is one that has always fascinated me. Tremendous credit should be given to the Town Council and authorities for successfully managing to maintain a proper sense of village life and community, whilst at the same time making sure this terrible, touching tale is still being remembered almost 350 years on.
© Copyright SWSt 2012
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Due to my boyfriend living in Mundesley and two of our friends living in Cromer, it has become a place we go to quite often when I'm there. I come from a seaside town myself but Cromer is so different in comparison. Now known as the Gem of the Norfolk Coast, Cromer has a population of about 8000 which is a huge difference to the 32,000 ... who live in Cleethorpes.
Something that I didn't know about Cromer until only last week was that it is famous for its crabs. Crab fishing forms the major source of income for local fishermen and there is even a small festival to celebrate the animal and the industry. Friends tell me that the cinema in Cromer shows some very strange films during the crab festival and they're always interesting and strange. I would love to be there for this one year just to see what is being shown and to see how strange the film is. If you want to try some famous Cromer crab then you can do so in many of the local shops.
Although only a small place, there is still plenty to do and see. As I just mentioned, Cromer does have its own cinema, although cannot be compared to any of the bigger chains. This cinema only has 4 screens and while playing the newest films, they have to be moved around during the day to fit them all in. The cinema is extremely dated and could do with a massive upgrade (especially the colours and neon lights outside of the building). However, with the next nearest cinema being in Norwich, I wouldn't complain about it too much. I think it's great that such a small town has something for people of all ages to do.
Cromer is not a place well known for its upmarket pubs and clubs but that does not mean there aren't any. At No. 98, you can have a fantastic night out and try some delicious cocktails. With well over 100 drinks to choose from, you are spoiled for choice. I loved going to No. 98 with my friends and being able to have a nice, relaxed night in the lounge downstairs. In the upstairs of the bar though is a club room and a dance floor. When the drinks are flowing and the night is getting late, this is the perfect place to go to let your hair down. Again, here there was a mix of ages drinking and having fun so it is not somewhere only for the younger people of Cromer.
A large part of the town is purely residential but once you get into the heart of Cromer, you will find all kinds of wonderful shops and things to see. For me, going to see the pier was high up on my list of things to do. In Cleethorpes, the pier is a nightclub so I wanted to see what another town did with theirs. Cromer's pier couldn't have been any more different. As I walked up the pier, I realised that at the very end, there was a theatre which I thought was amazing and so different to a club. Although I haven't been to see anything there, I would very much like to depending on what is showing next time I am there. Also along the pier were people eating ice creams, children fishing over the sides in the hopes of getting a crab or two as well as people generally taking in the scenery. You don't get anything like this on Cleethorpes pier so I thought it was lovely.
Speaking of ice cream... I have a massive thing about banana ice cream and I cannot seem to find it anywhere apart from in Cromer. I know Ben and Jerry's do one but it's not all that nice. In Cromer, right near the sea is a little window that sells fantastic ice creams. You can probably guess that one of these in banana. The first time I went here was in October and I didn't care how cold it was, I was determined to have a scoop! Now, every time I am in Cromer during the day I make a point of going to visit this little window and getting my fix.
Something else that I love Cromer for is its bookshops, which might sound like a strange thing to be liked. My friend Kirsty pretty much took me on the Cromer tour of bookshops and showed me which the best are. There aren't many current bookshops though and the majority are second hand or antique which is why I love them so much. I'm doing my dissertation next year on Fairy Tales and so far, have found a lot of my research in Cromer. I love looking around the old book shops and seeing what treasures they have for sale. Some of the books you can find are extremely old first editions though so the prices aren't those of a charity shop.
Even if you don't want to do some of the things I love doing here, you can still do the traditional seaside things. There are tacky souvenir shops where you can waste your money on tat as well as arcades which will eat up your copper collection. Whatever you want to do though, Cromer has fun things for all tastes and really is a gem to visit!
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Dacre Lakeside Park (England)
Introduction Located in the small village of Brandesburton in Driffiield, East Yorkshire I recently stayed at Dacre Lakside Park on a Monday to Friday short break. The Park itself offers holiday accommodation in the form of a campsite for tents, pitches for tourer caravans, fixed static caravans available to book for family ... breaks and Scandinavian-style wooden lodges. I booked a lodge for 4 adults and my pet dog through the Hoseasons website not so long ago and whilst the holiday experience is still fresh in my mind I thought it time to share my thoughts on my short break away.
Having booked online I was sent details of how to get to the park with my booking confirmation, I was told that our lodge would be available from 4pm on the Monday and we arrived at the park for around 3:30 and waited until it was available in the park's reception. The reception/bar area is modern in design with ample, comfortable seating and the lady behind the reception desk was pleasant and friendly. She explained that the lodges were being prepared and that our keys would shortly be available and invited us to sit down and wait. After only 10 minutes she called us over to the desk and gave us our keys, a plan of the area pointing out which lodge was ours and asked if we required a passcode for the park's free WiFi which I accepted. As access to the lodge area of the park is through a barrier we also had an electronic fob which was attached to our keys, this activated the barrier and allowed us access to a long, narrow driveway which led into the lodge area of the park and we easily located what was going to be our accommodation for the next 4 days.
Built entirely from wood and featuring a large veranda and balcony I was immediately impressed with the size of the lodge and how it appeared from the outside. Set amongst neatly trimmed bushes, trees and landscaped gardens our lodge overlooked the 6 acre lake which forms the main focal point of the park as a whole. There were 3 narrow steps that lead up to the balcony and a side door allowed us access inside our accommodation. A further pair of double patio doors opened up at the front of the lodge giving us full visual access to the lake and on the patio area of the balcony was a table, 4 chairs and best of all; a hot tub. I'd been recommended a stay at Dacre park from another reviewer and the hot tub was the main selling point for me, they are available in all of the lodges at the site but I wanted one that overlooked the lake as I thought it would make for a fun and relaxing experience but I'll mention more about this further on in this review.
There is a large, open plan living room and kitchen as you enter the lodge which comprises a two and three seater settee, television with a DVD player and freeview box. A dining room table and 4 chairs are also included as well as a fitted kitchen which completes the living area and I was impressed at how well stocked the kitchen was. First impressions count for a lot and I was pleased the see that the living area of the lodge was immaculately clean and beautifully furnished with good quality curtains, a couple of pictures on the walls and a large coffee table which gave the place a welcoming and homely feel. The kitchen is very stylish in design with sleek marble worktops, an integrated fridge and dishwasher and plenty of glassware, mugs, crockery and cutlery to cater for its guests and other than the wooden floor showing signs of wear and being discoloured in the kitchen area due to plenty of use I immediately felt at home and was eager to check out the rest of the lodge and see what it was going to offer us.
Our lodge had 2 bedrooms; a master with en suite bathroom and a twin with separate shower and toilet. The main door that separates the living area of the lodge from the other rooms leads to a short, carpeted hallway with the other 3 rooms leading on from it. The master bedroom was huge in size and had a large, king size leather bed with bedside cabinets with lamps and featured fitted wardrobes and a dressing table complete with standing mirror. Windows run down the length of the outside wall giving the bedroom a light and airy feel and again the high quality fabrics used on the curtains and bedding give the bedroom a luxurious, top class hotel look which exude style, The en suite bathroom had a large white, oval shaped bath with overhead shower and the matching toilet and wash basin were stylish and modern in design. Again I was very impressed with both the master bedroom and its en suite, the attention to detail was magnificent, it looked very modern and up to date and best of all the bed was wonderfully comfortable to sleep in. Less impressive was the twin bedroom which was quite simply presented as just 2 single beds, a fitted wardrobe and singe bedside cabinet. This room was a lot smaller in size to the master bedroom but still had excellent quality bedding and curtains but lacked the 'wow' factor of the other bedroom. This isn't a criticism as the beds were still comfortable and the room offered everything anyone would need for a good nights sleep and would definitely be ideal for a family with children but the master bedroom did overshadow this one in terms how it was presented but I expected that to be the case anyway.
You are provided with towels, bath robes and even slippers which I thought was a nice touch and both of the bedrooms were again immaculately clean and tidy. I don't go around looking for dust or dirt but can safely say that there wasn't a single imperfection in how the bedrooms were offered to us, similarly both the bathroom and shower room were clean, smelled fresh and looked tidy and I had no concerns with how the lodge was presented when we began unpacking our bags and getting ourselves settled in. There were good quality clothes hangers in the wardrobes, 2 pillows on each of the beds (4 on the master) and simple white bedding with contrasting throws and I can't imagine anyone would find much to fault as far as the bedrooms and bathrooms go.
Back to the living area and whilst the bedrooms and bathrooms offered me no concerns it is worth mentioning here that our lodge was one of the dog-friendly ones and I was ever so slightly disappointed that we had quite a small, CRT television that had definitely seen better days. Given the luxurious feel of the rest of the lodge the sitting room area did look a little bit dated, the tan coloured leather sofa's were well worn and obviously well used and although still offered some comfort I do think these and the old style TV let the living room down slightly. We had a problem with the aeriel to our television as it kept coming away from the wall socket which meant having to retune all of the Freeview channels whenever it decided to be temperamental and whilst we didn't go on holiday to watch television it was nice to get settled down on a night time to a bit of TV before bed. I can't say for certain that it was because our lodge allowed dogs to stay that the living area lacked the impressiveness of the rest of the rooms, pets aren't allowed in the bedrooms so these rooms looked a lot nicer and more stylish so perhaps it was a conscious decision of the park's owners to concentrate more on other areas of the lodge rather than the places were dogs would be allowed. This isn't a reason not to recommend the site and the lodges to other people though and I don't want to dwell too long on the few minor complaints I had but it's still well worth mentioning here that I did think the living room area lacked the finish of the other rooms and I do suspect that the lodges that don't allow pets might be better presented to guests so if you don't need to book a dog-friendly one then chose one of the others would be my advice.
Inside of the lodge covered it's time to mention my favourite part of the lodge for me, the hot tub. Set on the balcony and overlooking the lake this is a splendid addition to the lodge and well worth taking advantage of should anyone decide to stay at Dacre Park. The hot tub is a luxurious experience that even in April and May offers the chance to relax and unwind, it's permanently on so you don't have to wait for the water to heat up and the water levels and quality is checked and maintained daily by a member of staff. After a busy day of being out and about there's nothing nicer than being able to jump into the hot tub and let the powerful jets of water wash away the stresses of holiday life and I can clearly see why these are so popular to many people and is perhaps the main reason why I would return to Dacre Park. It's a final impressive touch to the overall experience of staying in one of these lodges and I thoroughly enjoyed taking a bit of time out to relax and look over the lake. Some of the lodges over look a small pond rather than the lake so you do pay a little extra for a lakeside lodge but in my opinion it's well worth the additional cost as it can make for a fantastic experience that is highly recommended. In the summer months I could see this being a much used thing and though we didn't really have the weather to spend a lot of time outdoors it didn't really matter when I was in the hot tub as it is sheltered and relatively private with only the next door lodge being able to see our tub from their kitchen window.
The high quality fixtures and fittings, the luxurious look and feel of the interior of the lodge and the secluded and private setting made this a fantastic break away from home for me and it's an experience that I will repeat in the future with a return to Dacre Park already being discussed for a return visit early next year and overall I'd have no hesitation in recommending this site and its facilities to other people. Other than a few minor concerns with the living area of our lodge which could come down to me being overly picky than any actual real faults this was the chance for me to take a few days break away from home and I'd definitely recommend a lodge visit for anyone looking to stay somewhere a little bit different but still have their home comforts to hand as well as plenty of space to relax and chill out.
The wooden construction of the lodge makes them cosy places to stay, they seem to hold the heat for a lot longer than other traditional accommodations can and even in April and May I found ours to be very warm and inviting. They're incredibly weather-proof, even high winds and rain didn't dampen our experience here so I'd have no hesitation coming back during the the winter months were I suspect they'd feel snug and look rather special during the Wintry months when there's snow on the ground and a chill in the air.
Prices and Checking Out
Available to book for both 4 and 7 nights stays we paid £366.00 for our 4 night break at Dacre Park, this equated to £84.00 each for the four of us and I thought this represented fantastic value for money. We did have to pay extra for our dog-friendly lodge and its lakeside setting and prices do vary depending on where the lodge is situated and how many people they can sleep, ours was suitable for 4 although there are larger lodges that can accommodate 6 if you have are travelling in a larger party. Do bear in mind that this is a family holiday park so they don't take bookings from larger same-sex groups as late night parties are frowned upon and discouraged so it won't be the place for anyone looking for somewhere to hold stag party/Hen night breaks or for a bunch of friends to stay together and the welcome pack you are given when you arrive at your lodge informs you that they expect certain standards to be maintained.
All gas and electricity is included in the cost of the holiday and you can keep the slippers they provide and all they ask when its time to go home is that you remove the bedding from the beds and leave the lodge as you found it which I don't think is too much to ask. Check out time is 10am, keys need to be handed in at the reception although there is a black box fixed to the outside wall for you to put your keys in should you leave before the reception desk is open and additional barrier fobs are available for a refundable £5.00 deposit should you be travelling in more than 1 car. The park as a whole is beautifully maintained with neatly trimmed grass areas and although my experience is only limited to the lodge area I did have a drive around the park on our last day there and thought it looked very welcoming and appealing.
Brandesburton is located in Driffield which is quite close to Beverley, Hull. The popular seaside town of Bridligton is about 25 minutes drive away and Hornsea is also in close proximity. Brandesburton itself has a small local supermarket, a couple of pubs, Chinese take away and a fish and chip shop which are all in easy walking distance or a short drive away so the park is well situated with plenty going off in and around the area. There are various water sports activities available to take part in on the lake in the park should you want to and I'll provide the link for the website at the end of this review should anyone want to see what else is available there too.
I had a fantastic time at Dacre Park and loved the experience of staying in a lodge, it made for a relatively inexpensive break away from home and would be a place I return to again. Even though I did have a few minor complaints about the living area of our lodge I'd still return to the park and would definitely recommend it to other people. Thanks for reading my review.
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