Hello! It’s Laura here again, forty-something mum of one. Back in May I wrote a piece about enjoying nature and the outdoors during lockdown. Two months on and lockdown has eased, non-essential shops are open, we can eat out and visit family again and we have formed a ‘bubble’. Personally I have taken my time to go out and about. I haven’t visited a large supermarket or shop - with the exception of a branch of B&Q - where I got altogether confused about the one-way system. I have ventured further out for leisure though - country walks and coffee and cake take-out-tours of Derbyshire. Where we head is very much led by three things: Can I get a coffee there? Are the loo’s open yet? And will there be something to interest the little one? Whilst I think kids need to learn that sometimes things are just necessarily boring, I don’t want her to have a miserable time when we are out (yes OK, I admit I also don’t want to be grumbled at the whole time when we are out).
Before Covid, getting out and about would be a mix of planning in advance and deciding on the day dependent on the “good old British weather”. With social distancing and reduced capacity in a lot of places, advance planning is more the order of the day - and it turns out I am not the best at this! I am getting used to the new-normal of taking face-masks and two hand sanitizers out (in case we lose one, which I am confident we will do at some point) but not at booking tickets in advance. I keep forgetting and therefore missing time slots that work for us. However, I did get lucky this week with English Heritage and Bolsover Castle. Tickets for the very last time slot of the day which worked well for my working hours.
Sitting high on a hill, Bolsover castle is the remains of a Stuart era mansion that was designed to impress. The rooms were lavish, and the views across Derbyshire are spectacular. The history of the site goes back to William the Conqueror, but what remains now is largely the work of the Cavendish family during the 1600’s. It has been in the hands of English Heritage since 1984, and has had extensive restoration.
The site is easy to find in the centre of Bolsover town. Parking is free at the site and in the town centre. Spaces nearest the entrance are quickly filled, though I expect that staggered entry will mean it’s easier to find a spot. We had no problem at all. Visitors who have limited mobility can be set down at the visitors centre. Some of the site is wheelchair and pushchair accessible, some not. There are stairs and steps throughout the site (I didn't spot if there was anywhere secure to leave pushchairs or wheelchairs).
There are additional hygiene and safety measures in place. As well as timed tickets there are one-way systems in place where space makes it difficult to maintain social distancing. I liked the ‘priority’ system that was in place where it wasn’t possible to go one-way only - “You have priority over oncoming visitors” notices. This is the first time I have seen this, and it makes very good sense. There are hand-sanitiser stations at various points throughout. The cafe is open for take-away and there are plenty of well-spaced tables outdoors, but also room to have a picnic on the grassed areas. The toilets are open and clean, and the shop is open. There is a charming little castle themed play area for under-12’s but this is closed at the moment which is understandable. I have to say that at the time of our visit it was very quiet - we were probably the last visitors so didn’t see the systems in full swing. But it seemed easy to follow so I would have felt comfortable on a busier day.