Hardwick Hall and country park is a nice place to spend a day out, it is located on the Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire border between Mansfield and Chesterfield, off junction 29 of the M1, just follow the brown tourist signs from the M1 or A617. The only car park is next to the Hall in the centre of the park land. This rovides easy 'flat' access to the hall and gardens, but access to the rest of the park land is down long steep paths.
Hardwick Hall is one of Britain's best and most complete Elizabethan houses, standing high in the Derbyshire hills overlooking the surrounding countryside. The house has remained nearly unchanged since it was built in 1597 for Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Shrewsbury (known as Bess of Hardwick).
The hall houses a large collection of 16th century furniture as well as a huge collection of needle work and tapestries. Next to the Hall at Hardwick is the Walled Garden. This is split into four sections by long narrow lawns and hedges.
There's a formal lawn area with colourful flowered borders and large trees, an excellent herb garden, a meadow orchard and a normal orchard. The herb garden in particular is very good with a large selection of wonderfully 'smelly' plants. It's also much more colourful than many herb gardens. (lots of pictures below).
Hardwick Hall stands in a country park that contains rare breeds of cattle and sheep, be warned these are a long way from the car park down fairly steep paths / roads.
There's also a lake at Hardwick Hall, although it's difficult to reach from the main car park. The best way to get to the lake is to drive, just follow the exit road and turn right on exiting the estate. Then look for a right turn into Hardwick Park, it's then only a short flat walk to the lakes edge. However, it's not particularly peaceful because you're literally only a few yards from the M1 motorway - you can see and hear the traffic through the trees. So, nice visually but very noisy.
Hardwick Hall and Gardens (National Trust) - Links and Map
Calke Abbey - Hall and Gardens
National Trust - Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire
Hardwick Hall Elizabethan mansion, Derbyshire, England