One of the key pieces of work the Capability Brown Festival has commissioned was Mr Brown’s Green Directions, our Sustainable Transport Toolkit, aimed at helping support sites in becoming as accessible as possible to new and existing visitors.
The toolkit contains lots of suggestions for sites and indeed visitors themselves, on different ways to get to a Brown site other than by car.
When Emma Robinson, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Historic Houses Association and I were planning our visit to Chatsworth in Derbyshire, we thought that we should put some of the toolkit’s suggestions into practice and see how easy it was to get there using only public transport. We planned our journey using the online timetables of National Rail and Travel South Yorkshire. We met at St. Pancras Railway Station, having travelled across London by both bus and tube, a normal commute for us.
An hour and half later, on pre booked train tickets, we arrived at Sheffield Railway Station and after a brief stop to pick up a coffee to take with us, we crossed the large road outside the station in search of the bus stop for the number 218 Bakewell Express. A quick check of the bus stop sign and a chat with a helpful lady standing next to us and we realised we needed the bus stop on the other side of the road and we were there!
A double decker bus swung around the corner, we paid cash for our tickets and the driver kindly double checked that we had asked for the correct ones (£4 adult single – the price of parking a car at Chatsworth) and we were off.
The bus filled up with passengers on the various stops through Sheffield and soon we were out in open country, with some wonderful views as the bus wound its way up and across the country side. We had a much higher viewpoint than if we had been in a car and would recommend the journey to see the scenery alone. The journey took about 45 minutes but felt much shorter.
The bus actually goes into the Estate at Chatsworth, following the drive alongside the river, with a wonderful view of the landscape and the house as you approach. It sweeps over the three arched bridge put in on Mr. Brown instructions and much to our delight, drove straight past the queue of cars waiting to get in, and dropped us off in the carpark very close to the main entrance. The bus stop is just opposite the newly restored Game Larder where Chatsworth have recently put in some lovely information boards about Capability Brown and the landscape, and which is outside the paywall too.
We discovered that there are free coin operated left luggage lockers which was great as we had brought outfits for all weather eventualities but as it was a gloriously sunny day, we had somewhere to leave our waterproofs.
We can highly recommend trying a different way of getting to a Brown site and will be trying this for more of our visits this year. Chatsworth negotiated with their local bus company to bring the bus in, originally on a trial basis, but it has proved very popular, with the bus company keen to keep it going as the extra passengers help support a rural route.
If you are thinking about sustainable travel and transport, the Festival is running a Sustainable Transport Online Webinar on 29th September with the chance for Brown sites to ask our Sustainable Transport Consultant questions about how you can go about improving your sustainable transport options.
About the author: Ceryl Evans is the Director of the Capability Brown Festival.