Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Traveller's tales #2

Stage 2 of our holiday was a very short break in the Peak District.   We haven't visited the area before and we only decided to go when our plans to see Lincoln fell through but we saw enough to make us want to go back for a much longer holiday.

The Peak District is mainly in Derbyshire but also extends into Cheshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire. Driving out to explore the countryside, we found ourselves crossing several county boundaries but our base was at Monsal Head in Derbyshire.

This was the view from our bedroom window, the viaduct over the River Wye.
This is great walking country but with only 3 days at our disposal we decided to drive around to see as much as possible and plan a future walking holiday. The landscape is truly magnificent, words like splendour and majestic peppered our conversation as we drove over peaks and down dales. It was a great contrast to our gentle rolling hills and lush patchwork landscape here in North Devon. Here we see very little of the farmland from the narrow lanes because of the high banks and hedges but the Derbyshire farmers use dry stone walls to edge their fields and it is easy to stand on the roadside and look across at what looks like a child's drawing of fields with heavy black-crayoned dividing lines.
I thought of the effort and determination of the men who carted all that stone into these remote parts and painstakingly built the walls. We had to drive many miles before we found a quarry:
Huge trucks carry the stone nowadays but I imagined horses struggling up the hills with their heavy loads in former times.

We stayed at Castle Cliffe hotel at Monsal Head. It has stunning views and is the perfect base for walking or visiting local towns and villages. We have stayed in very many hotels and guest houses in UK but none compare with the comfort and friendliness of this one. Jackie, the owner, helped us with our bags and then invited us into the lounge for tea and home made cake. The breakfast menu was superb; I  had to try a Derbyshire oatcake with bacon and maple syrup and it was scrummy. We had excellent dinners in the Monsal Head Hotel and at the Packhorse Inn in nearby Little Longstone. To get to the latter, we had to walk along a "special off-road pedestrian walkway" which here in Devon we call a pavement!

We didn't have very much time for exploring but we made short stops in Buxton and Bakewell. I went to one of the three bakeries that claim to be "the original Bakewell pudding shop."
I was relieved to find that the pudding was quite unlike the sweet Bakewell tart that one usually finds in the supermarket.
 This was light and not too sweet with an almond base.

As a regular reader of  Rattling On, where I have seen many photos of the wonderful scenery, architecture and other features of the Peak District,  I was delighted to come across one of the dressed wells that she has posted about.
Dressed Well at Longnore
Ours was a very brief visit, on our way to Yorkshire. We hope to go back to see much more of this National Park.


  1. The picture of the houses near the quarry...if it's Cheedale, then my Granddad lived in the end house!

  2. That sounds like fun! aren't that kind of oatcake yummy..lovely photo's

  3. Rattling On, I think that it was Cheedale. I was thinking of you as we drove around and I am so pleased that we actually saw something connected to you.

  4. Val, my only experience of oatcakes had been the Scottish savoury biscuits so I was surprised when my delicious pancake appeared! It was really delicious.

  5. m. sounds like you a fun trip. It's the kind of traveling we like to do. Get in the car and just drive around, staying where we like for as long as we like. We did the same when we were in your neck of the woods and had a wonderful time.

    Your pictures are wonderful too.

  6. e, it is thye best kind of holiday, isn't it? I'm hoping to hear from you about your time with the French Connections.


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