Express & Star

Travel review: Derby

Lisa Bailey enjoys the buzz of the city and the calm of the countryside in Derby...


Climbing the winding and narrow 189 steps of Derby Cathedral tower my breath was getting shallower and shallower. With a few stops on the way we eventually got to the top of the 212ft tower.

And what a sight to behold! We could see over the whole of Derby with The Silk Mill, museum and art gallery, market hall and theatre to name just a few.

And with it being a clear day you could also see Derby's four surrounding counties.

The cathedral has the oldest set of 10 bells in the country with one of them cast in the reign of Henry VIII.

Dr Alex Rock was our more than qualified guide for the tour.

With many fond memories of his hometown Dudley he fell in love with Derby when he arrived as a student.

And having spent a weekend in the city, we shared his enthusiasm.

Lunch had been at the Silk Mill Ale and Cider House.

Lunch was an indoor picnic at Silk Mill Ale and Cider House

Unassuming from the front, it was completely inviting inside with its traditional bar and British retro-ish decor with clocks lining the walls.

Advice on the ale was top-notch with my husband eventually going for three thirds of a pint.

Lunch was a sharing board – British Pic-nic.

We had our own indoor picnic with sage & onion sausage rolls, radish salad, home baked ham, potato and red onion salad, Blue Vinney stilton, Wookey hole cheddar, pork pie, pickled celery, grapes and crusty bread. It was spectacular.

The pub had a wonderful view of the cathedral and had quirky ideas such as sunscreen offered to customers and binoculars so you could get a closer look at the peregrine falcons who live at the cathedral.

Derby was so eclectic, with its mix of traditional and modern buildings.

We pottered around and visited the Cathedral Quarter with its independent shops and then you had your modern day shopping centres.

Derby Cathedral was a sight to behold

In the Cathedral Quarter there is the traditional Bennetts department store and what could be more traditional than High Tea at Lisa Jean -a brasserie.

Sat in a mezzanine above the shop we had a wonderful array of sandwiches, vol au vents – including king prawn Marie Rose and wild mushroom & tarragon.

Then it was onto the sweet element with scones, Pimm's jelly and elderflower creme brûlée. There was also a wide selection of teas – I went for caramel chocolate and Neil mint.

We were then transported from the buzz of the city to the countryside – Kedleston Country House Hotel, which is about 15 minutes from the city.

Elegance was the top of its list when the Derby Brewing Co. renovated the hotel in partnership with Plum and Ashby last year.

It has just five rooms, but they are stunning – they have a Georgian air with a contemporary feel.

All rooms are decorated in soothing greys and blues.

Steeped in history – the inn was designed by famous architect Robert Adam for Sir Nathaniel Curzon and its Georgian roots were there for all to see with its grand dining room, airy orangery and gardens with croquet.

Our room for the night was the Scarsdale Suite, which overlooked the countryside and had a separate lounge area with mini bar, stocking wines, gin and local ales.

Tempting as it was to lounge in the room we ventured downstairs to the restaurant and bar area.

The Kedleston prides itself on local produce and the food was delicious with me going for pan fried sea bass and Neil steak.

We then sank into the comfortable sofas with a couple of drinks.

Kedleston Country House obviously puts customers as its number one priority which was evident from the service during our stay.

The following morning we went down for breakfast which was continental breakfast served on tiered plates – all very first class again.

If we had wanted any more breakfast we could have chosen from cooked breakfast etc.

As much as we wanted to while away more hours at the hotel, we had a date at Kedleston Hall, which was created by Sir Nathaniel and again designed by Robert Adam, but obviously on a much larger scale.

This 18th century mansion was most impressive as we drove up the extensive driveway over the bridge to the main house.

Although not on the same scale as its neighbour Chatsworth, it wowed us with its furniture, art collections and landscaped gardens.

Adam had a Roman theme and you are greeted by a marble hall with 20 fluted columns and glass skylights.

It was as impressive inside as it was out.

From the buzz of the city to the calm of the countryside, Derby and its surrounding area has it all for a perfect weekend.

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