For as long as 60-year-old photographer Steve Bramall could remember his wife Julie had wanted to fly in a hot air balloon. Making her dreams a reality, Steve bought Julie a Virgin Balloon Flight as a Christmas gift.

The father of two, known as the ‘Grumps’ to his four ‘Grumpling’ grandchildren, got in touch to tell us about the Nottingham couple's airborne adventure on a balloon ride over Derbyshire and to share the moments he brilliantly captured on camera. Here is his story…

“I chose Virgin because they are a known brand so I knew we would be safe and due to the choice of launch sites. The website gave me all the information I needed about the various voucher choices and what to expect on the day. The icing on the cake for me was when I booked the tickets they arranged for them to be delivered to my daughter’s house in a plain envelope so not to spoil the surprise.

The flight was only one third of the experience; it started by helping get the balloon ready to launch which my wife found great fun. The day was perfect, crisp and bright with a low lying mist so right from the moment the pilot gave the OK to stand up the views were stunning. To be truthful I don’t think any of my photographs could do it justice. I don’t know why but it seemed like everyone in the basket felt the need to talk only when strictly necessary, and then in hushed tones. The pilot told us where we were flying over, the height and other snippets of information at intervals throughout the flight. We flew over the Derbyshire countryside from Bakewell, towards Rowsley then out across Darley Moor towards Brockhurst. It was absolutely fantastic, the morning sun rising up and the low lying mist acting as veil over the landscape.

We had expected it to be cold during the flight and had dressed accordingly but once we're off and away it was quite warm. The pilot explained that this phenomenon was due to us going at the same speed as the wind and therefore there was no wind chill, guess we all learnt something too. We flew towards the M1 with our pilot looking for a suitable landing place and everyone else hoping he would not find one for another 10 minutes, and then another 10 minutes! Eventually, a suitable spot was found and we landing nice and gently, and upright, in the grounds of Hardwick Hall.”

When asked what his favourite part of the experience was Steve explained that simply watching his wife Julie enjoy the day was by far the best. Closely following Julies enjoyment, Steve relished in the stunning views, peace and serenity of the flight.

Steve has been taking photographs, mainly of landscapes, for the last 30 years and is unfortunately considering retirement due to health reasons. All his photographs, including those from the balloon flight with Virgin are available to purchase as prints or publication rights on his website, if you’d like to contact Steve, feel free to fill out the contact form on his website.

To take to the skies above Derbyshire, simply visit or call us on 01952 212750 for East Midland Virgin Balloon Flight vouchers from just £169pp.