Imogen giggles as she run downs the grass enbankment, her arms spread wide like a bird.
For a two-year-old, who so often has to hold an adult’s hand, she is loving the freedom of this visit to Chatsworth House. The gardens are lit up with colour, and it’s clear that spring has well and truly arrived.
Chatsworth is one of our favourite places to visit as a family. And though I’d personally love to head into the house, and immerse myself in all that fantastic history, Imogen much prefers the gardens, so that’s what today’s visit is all about. The gardens are the perfect place for curious little minds, with plenty of space to run off all that excess energy. And though Chatsworth has a wonderful adventure playground and farm, we don’t even get near it on this visit - there’s so much else to do!
As soon as we’re through the gate, Immy is jigging to a nearby organ grinder and asking for an ice cream from the cafe. Magnums in hand, we set off towards the greenhouses with Immy running up and down every hill and step along the way, picking daisies, and attempting cartwheels. After stopping to sit for a minute on special seats carved into a fallen tree trunk, we head into the greenhouse, where Immy’s fascinated by the change in temperature and the beautiful flowers.
After the greenhouse, we make a beeline for our favourite part of the gardens: Chatsworth’s Cascade - the water steps that run from the top of the garden down towards the house. In summer, Immy loves to paddle in the steady stream, but today she’s happy to make do with a few good splashy jumps.
We follow the small windy path up into the Rock Garden, with its impressive boulders and waterfalls, and promise Immy she can climb the rocks when she’s a little bigger - phew! After taking off our sunglasses and walking down into the Coal Hole and tunnel, we emerge, blinking, into the sunshine, much further down the gardens.
We grown ups stop to examine scupltures while Immy runs happily around our feet, examining every stone, step, flower and pathway she comes across.
At the maze, Immy takes the lead and we all dash to keep up with her, taking several wrong turns before we eventually emerge to a sea of fragrant hyacinths so beautiful we sink onto nearby benches to enjoy the view - and smell!
As we loop into a giant circle and start to head back towards the car, Immy is starting to tire from three straight hours of running, and daddy has to carry our thoroughly tired and happy toddler the last few hundred feet.
A perfect spring afternoon.