Earlier this year I voiced my upset that (as an adult), I’d never been away on a birthday trip.
Soon after, Sam had taken my not so subtle hint and booked us a Secret Escapes trip to the Derbyshire. A country retreat – two nights at Mr Darcy’s manor house with dinner included, just outside the Peak District. As a country girl at heart, I was excited – give me stone walls and bleeting lambs over a city break any day. Our trip rolled round and last Thursday we headed up the country on our three hour drive. Arriving around 1pm, we checked out our huge room (we stayed at Mackeney Hall which you can see here, but as it was Secret Escapes the deal isn’t on anymore! Check out some other ones here though), grabbed a drink at the bar and set out into the Peak District for a drive.
Neither of us had ever visited before – as a child I spent many Easter breaks in the Lake District or Wales on walking holidays with my parents, but the Peak District isn’t one I’d ventured to. Knowing we had a few hours before dinner at the hotel that evening, we headed north to the town of Bakewell. Relatively famous (for its Bakewell Puddings, of course), it’s a quaint market town with tearooms in abundance, a handful of shops – both independent and chain. To me it felt nostalgic – the pale limestone buildings took me back to my childhood, visiting small towns like Bakewell when it rained on our hiking trips. The stone walls which mark the farmer’s boundary lines rolled over the never ending hills as we took the scenic route back and enjoyed stopping to watch the lambs jumping and to pap a highland cow or two. We returned back to the hotel for a pre-dinner rest before enjoying a surprisingly good 3 course meal as part of our deal. We ate in the conservatory and had a lovely relaxed evening, plotting the next day and what we planned to do.
Waking up in time for the hotel breakfast, we knew on the Friday we wanted to do a long walk. I’ll admit, there doesn’t seem much to do in the Peak District if you’re not the outdoorsy type so we knew a hike of some kind was on the cards. Neither of us are exactly pros, but are partial to a long stroll so I spent some time Googling circular walks and good views, finally settling on Mam Tor. We stocked up on water and a picnic and set off for the National Trust starting point car park. I’d thrown my woolly hat in as a last minute addition, and let me tell you – it was by no means wasted. Even at the slightly hilly car park, the wind picked up and what was an overcast day turned pretty cold! Walking boots on, we headed off up the steep path. Mam Tor actually means Mother Hill – due to the large amount of landslips the hill experiences, where it creates lots of smaller hills below. It’s hard to describe but Mam Tor isn’t one peak, but lots of peaks in a row – meaning the walk was an up-down-up-down affair. I was grateful – on the descent we were sheltered from the wind! Taking photos was a two handed job as we battled the wind but seeing lots of other walkers on the route reassured me that we weren’t being totally nuts. We took the path along the top of the ridge, climbing (I think!) four peaks in total. We then descending over the lower hills, through some woodland and over the deserted A625 which was lost in a landslip in 1979. It was quite something to see 6 foot of torn away tarmac in the side of a hill where the road once was!
13km and 4 hours later, we made it back to the car park. Very windswept and pretty worn out, with aching calves and windchapped faces, we decided we were in need of a sweet treat to refuel, so headed to the nearby spa town of Buxton to recoup. With not much else on our minds other than sugar, Cafe Nero saved the day but I would love to explore the town a little more should we ever return! I was intrigued by how much more independent business there seemed to be in the Peak District than what we’re used to at home. And don’t get me started on the beautiful houses! We headed back to the hotel, which by this time was over an hours drive south, and enjoyed a sunny evening meal before a seriously good nights sleep! The next morning, we grabbed breakfast and hit the road back down to Hampshire – feeling satisfied with our accomplishments the day before and full of fresh country air!