Callow Top Holiday Park, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

We stayed at Callow Top Holiday Park at the start of September 2017, for two nights over a weekend. This was our first time at the campsite and our first visit to this part of Derbyshire.

Callow Top Holiday Park is situated about 1 mile north west of Ashbourne. It is also next to the Tissington Trail, a former railway line that used to run between Buxton and Ashbourne.

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The Callow Inn, the onsite pub and green

The location next to The Tissington Trail was one of the things that attracted us to Callow Top Holiday Park. The onsite facilities were another reason, particularly the heated swimming pool.

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The heated swimming pool

In addition to this, there’s an onsite shop, café/bar, pub restaurant, children’s play area and arcade. So there’s plenty to do if you want to stick around.

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The well used chilren’s play area

We arrived on Friday afternoon on a mostly sunny day. As the site had just opened for those checking in, there was a bit of a queue of cars to get in. Fortunately, we were soon checked in with the details of our pitch.

There was now a problem with our pitch, in that there was already tent on it. This was resolved quickly though as they were able to find us an alternative pitch in the same field and move our friends to a pitch next to us.

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Our field with our pitch in the top right corner

Our pitch wasn’t in the best of shape though. You could see it’d had quite a bit of use over the summer, with a large patch of bare ground. We decided to pitch our tent over the bare ground, this was fine except getting the pegs in was a challenge and the ground was a bit hard on the knees in the tent.

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Our somewhat less than perfect pitch

We soon had the tent up though and were ready to see what the campsite had to offer, starting with a dip in the pool. Having the pool was great and it was indeed heated to a reasonable temperature, though given it was quite a cool September weekend, it was a bit chilly when you got out.

The pool was also quite busy at times, though it was good to see the attendants were on the ball. They dealt with a situation of a boy bullying younger kids by taking the boy out of the pool and banning him.

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Setting up the tents

We spent our first night by the tents, having a barbecue and drinks. There was a really nice atmosphere in the field with kids playing out and enjoying themselves. Having a well-stocked shop on site meant we had everything we needed for the evening without having to leave.

Being September and a clear evening, it turned a bit cold later on and we were very jealous of the other campers, who’d come prepared with fire pits.

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Jealously watching the other campers with their fire pits on a cold evening

On the second evening, we decided to skip cooking and head to the on-site café bar for food, drink and entertainment. It was quite busy by the time we arrived, but we managed to get a table and order. The food was okay, but not amazing and the selection wasn’t huge.

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In the bar as the disco begins

After we’d eaten and the disco had started, we decided it wasn’t for us and headed out the beer garden area outside. It was quite busy here and in the kid’s play area and arcade until late on. We were thankful our pitches weren’t close by.

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Saturday evening at the beer garden

Tissington Trail

As I said, access to the Tissington Trail was a big factor in us choosing to stay at Callow Top. There’s actually access to the trail within the campsite grounds, down a steep hill. So it’s great to get to with kids as you don’t need to worry about negotiating the roads.

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Setting off on the Tissington Trail

The Tissington Trail is a bridleway and walk/cycle path on what used to be the Ashbourne to Buxton railway line. It originally opened in 1971, following the closure of the line in 1967.

The Tissington Trail runs for 13 miles between Ashbourne to Parsley Hay, where it meets the High Peak Trail. It has a gentle incline as you head towards Parsley Hay, the surface is made of crushed limestone and is generally in good condition.

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Riding along the Tissington Trail

We’d brought our bikes with us, though our friends didn’t and decided to hire them at the campsite. The bikes were decent enough hybrids and were more than adequate for a day out on the trail.

Bikes are also available at Ashbourne Cycle Hire, which isn’t too far from the campsite. They have a wider range of bikes to choose from, including tandems and eBikes.

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Crossing the bridge over the A515

After riding for a bit, we stopped at the location of the former Tissington Station for lunch. This was quite a pleasant place to stop, with picnic benches, cafe/ice cream shop, toilets and car park.

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Stopping for lunch at the former Tissington Station

After lunch, we carried on a bit further until we reached Alsop and were rewarded with some really lovely views. We stopped again for a break, then turned round to head back to the campsite.

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The view on the way to Alsop

Turning round, we were greeted with a speedy ride downhill, which we all really enjoyed and we were soon back at the campsite.

Ashbourne

On our last day, we decided to leave the bikes at the campsite and take a walk into Ashbourne. Conveniently, there was a footpath behind our tent that took us directly to the Tissington Trail, via a field and a couple of stiles.

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Once at the Tissington Trail, we headed right instead of left this time and made our way towards Ashbourne. It’s just over a mile to Ashbourne, heading gradually downhill. Again, it is mostly flat except for a section where a viaduct was removed and the path dips down and back up.

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Passing a gate on the Tissington Trail, on the way to Ashbourne

Just after Ashbourne Cycle Hire, we reached the old railway tunnels on the approach to Ashbourne. The tunnels were very reminiscent of those on the Monsal Trail, but nowhere near as long. The kids really enjoyed walking through here and making some noise.

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Coming out of the Ashbourne railway tunnels

Arriving in Ashbourne, we went for a wander round and some lunch. Ashbourne is a lovely old market town, with a rich history going back to the 13th century.

There’s some lovely old buildings here and it’s well worth a wander. Though as seems to be the case with many market towns, the experience is let down by the amount of traffic and vehicles parked everywhere.

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Wandering around Ashbourne

After a very pleasant lunch at Bramhalls’, we headed back along the Tissington Trail to the campsite to pack up the tents and head home.

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