A postcard from the Peak District

Dark Peak, Peak District.

I have a confession to make – up until very, very recently my knowledge of England’s Peak District was based primarily on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I knew Derbyshire was near the Peak District and that’s where Mr Darcy’s ‘Pemberley’ was based. I quickly discovered at the start of this week though, there’s a whole lot more to the Peak District than Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Adam and I chose the Peak District for a long weekend away on a bit of a whim. It was a region I’d never visited and Adam only briefly. What we discovered was towns and villages filled with exquisite stones buildings, amazing scenery and a thriving food and beer scene.

Cottage in Buxton, Derbyshire.

Buoyed by the success of our camping trip over Easter, we decided to pack the tent and keep the weekend simple. Adam found a farm just outside of Buxton that offered pitches, so that became our base for our two nights away.  It was basic, but clean and there were only a few other campers on site with us, so we virtually had private use of all the facilities.

Tent set up in a field near Buxton, Derbyshire.

We spent the morning of our first full day in the Peak District wandering around Buxton, which like Malvern, is a spa town.  There are some quite grand buildings in the town centre and even a ‘crescent’ similar to the famous terraced houses in Bath. Unfortunately it was completely covered in scaffolding on the day of our visit, so we didn’t get a great look. Buxton had some really lovely independent shop and Adam and I had a great time just wandering around the streets and window shopping.

Buxton Opera House, Buxton, Derbyshire.

Shop front in Buxton, Derbyshire.

Shop front in Buxton, Derbyshire.

If you like good beer and posh pub food, I can also highly recommend the Buxton Brewery!

We took a big drive on our second day in the Peak District along Snake Pass, which traverses Dark Peak– owned by the National Trust. It’s a windy road that makes its way over windswept moors and there are plenty of areas to pull over to admire the view and park, so you can go for a walk. It was cold and grey when we visited, but the weather suited the moody landscape.

Dark Peak in the Peak District National Park.

A warm drink was definitely in order after our hillside wander, so Adam and I made our way into Hathersage – a ridiculously beautiful little village. We had great coffee at a local deli and I could’ve spent hours snapping pictures of all the cute cottages.

Cottage in Hathersage, Derbyshire.

Surprise View is on the A625 road out of Hathersage and has a large carpark. If you don’t mind a short but uphill walk, you can enjoy beautiful views over the Hope Valley.

Surprise View in the Peak District National Park.

The final stop on our Peak District tour was Bakewell, home of the famous Bakewell pudding. Set on the River Wye, Bakewell is visually stunning. Like Hathersage, it’s full of old stone cottages and buildings.  Being bigger, it’s busier but it’s got a lot of appeal and Adam and I were disappointed we couldn’t spend more time looking around.

The Wye River at Bakewell, Derbyshire.

Bakewell, Derbyshire.

Bakewell, Derbyshire.

The Peak District exceeded all of my expectations. Adam and I could’ve quite easily spent a week exploring more of the region. For an area so close to Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, it feels incredibly isolated in parts. The Cotswolds may be famous for its picture perfect villages, but I’d urge you to not forget the Peak District – it delivers quintessential England too.

P.S. – I found Mr Darcy in Derbyshire… next week a visit to Lyme Park, ‘Pemberley’ in that very famous 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.  Have a lovely weekend! x

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