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5 Fabulous Things to do in Derbyshire in Autumn

By Molly Scott – 23rd September 2020
Pumpkins at Calke Abbey

Crisp mornings, bright sunny skies, leaves turning every hue of copper and gold, wrapping up warm, sweaters, scarves and thick woolly tights. Dark nights, cosying up at home with candles and pumpkin spice everything… I have always loved autumn. It is simply the best season! Back to school symbolises shiny new stationery and fresh starts. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. And the build up to Christmas is still to be savoured. Autumn is just wonderful, and it is particularly wonderful in Derbyshire.

Whilst several of our county’s high profile autumnal events (the much loved Matlock Bath illuminations and a Chatsworth bonfire and fireworks) are sadly cancelled this year, there is still much to enjoy. Here are my top five favourite things to do in Derbyshire in the autumn.

Pumpkin display at Calke Abbey

Calke Abbey is lovely at any time of year, but I think is particularly special in the autumn. The beautiful gardens and parkland, and the faded beauty of the orangerie draw crowds throughout the year. But in autumn, the auricular theatre (a traditional way of show casing potted auriculars) is filled with pumpkins of every conceivable colour and size. It makes for a stunning scene (and the perfect background for an impromptu photo shoot).

The pumpkins are scheduled to be on display by the 16th October, but keep an eye on my Instagram and or Facebook pages account for updates. Entrance is free for National Trust members but must be pre-booked. Non-members pay £8 per adult. Tickets are released each Friday for the following two weeks. Book here.


Pumpkin picking

Village Pumpkins, Barlow

PLEASE NOTE VILLAGE PUMPKINS IS NOW SHUT FOR THE SEASON. They have sold out due to high demand!

If you’re in North Derbyshire (or Sheffield) I thoroughly recommend our preferred pumpkin patch. It’s totally uncommercialised, just a well set up field where you can pick your own pumpkins. It’s free to park and free entry, you just pay for your pumpkins.

The field is really picturesque and there are stunning views in every direction. There’s a tractor for kids to sit on and some photo prop boards to aid with that all important Instagram picture! In previous years there have been piglets and chickens to see, and the opportunity to buy a small range of local produce such as eggs and honey.

Last year there was a local butchers selling bacon sandwiches, burgers etc. And local tea room, Hackney House serving hot drinks and their beautiful homemade cakes. Just be aware that there aren’t any loos. There are two decent pubs and a tea room in nearby Barlow.

To find out more visit Village Pumpkins’ Facebook page. PLEASE NOTE VILLAGE PUMPKINS IS NOW SHUT FOR THE SEASON. They have sold out due to high demand!


Scaddows Halloween Pumpkin Event, Ticknall

In South Derbyshire I would recommend the PYO Pumpkin Event at Scaddows which includes a free spooky Halloween trail, perfect for little ones. The event runs from Saturday 17th October up to and including Saturday 31st October. Booking is not required. Spacious car parking and queuing systems will be used keep everyone safe during their visit. Masks are required for entry to the farm shop and café.

To find out more visit their website.


An autumnal mooch

I recently conducted some (adhoc and entirely unscientific) research on what women considered a good day out. One of the most popular options was a simple potter around somewhere nice and some decent food. I am whole heartedly on board with this and would suggest a mooch around the lovely market town of Ashbourne with its cobbled streets and traditional market square.

If you get there early you can usually park for free at the rugby and cricket club on Cokayne Avenue (DE6 1ER) which is just a few minutes walk into the pretty town centre, via the park if you wish. There are a wealth of independent shops. I particularly like Handmade Design which stocks over fifty UK designers and makers and The Cheddar Gorge, a delightful deli. For a full list of shops head to https://www.visitashbourne.co.uk/shopping/

If autumn equals pumpkin spiced latte or decadent hot chocolates in your book, swerve the big faceless chains and support local. The choice and quality of drinks on offer at F’Coffee in Ashbourne rivals any of the big chains. They serve a wide range of hot chocolates and flavoured coffees with plenty of vegan options. Read my previous recommendation of F’Coffee here. If that feels a little bit too hipster for your liking, head to Betty’s Vintage Tearoom and for a view of the lovely park.

For food I would suggest Jack Rabbits or F’Coffee for a light lunch or the Lighthouse Restaurant for a treat. For an expertly made cocktail, head to The Bank who are launching their autumn menu imminently. Alternatively, drive to either The Duncombe Arms or The Cock Inn, both popular, upmarket gastro pubs. Once you’ve finished in town, meander back to the car park via the park. There’s a lovely duck pond and playground suitable for young children.


Cosy pubs

Is there anything better than a cosy pub on a crisp autumnal day? Derbyshire is blessed with many but my favourite is probably the Devonshire Arms at Beeley. This 18th century inn is part of the Chatsworth estate and hosts both a traditional bar area and a bright, spacious brasserie. The Devonshire is the perfect place for a post-Chatsworth pint, G&T or bite to eat. You can even stay over in one of their beautiful rooms. Read Girl About Sheffield’s review of a stay at The Devonshire here.

For a cosy pub that can be combined with seeing the beautiful Ladybower Reservoir in all its autumnal glory, try the Yorkshire Bridge Inn. Family owned and multi award winning, this traditional country inn is a short stroll from the banks of Ladybower Reservoir.


Autumnal Walks

Ladybower is a beautiful place to see autumnal leaves. There’s a nature trail or just choose to walk as far as you like. Walking round the whole reservoir is approximately 5.5 miles and is dog and cycle friendly. Park at the Upper Derwent visitor centre which has pay and display parking and has toilet facilities. Or combine your walk with a pub meal at the Yorkshire Bridge Inn (and really, if you’re not heading to the pub or a nice tea room after a bracing walk, might I suggest you’re doing it wrong?!).

Other walks that are particularly lovely during the autumn include: Padley Gorge and Longshaw Estate; Birchen Edge; Hathersage stepping stones and Chatsworth. All of the which are brilliantly explained on the wonderful Peak District Kids website.


I hope you’ve enjoyed my autumnal recommendations for enjoying this stunning county. If you follow any of these tips, please tag me on social media and let me know how you get on. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook.




This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review but paid in full by our writer and the venue had no idea that I was there. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!


Molly Scott Derbyshire
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