We were apprehensive about our visit to the Peak District in Derbyshire due to the unfavourable weather forecast. However, as has frequently occurred on this trip, it was rubbish. While not a fine day, we did get intervals of sunshine and none of the forecast rain.
The Peak District is an area with many dramatic grassy hills, but few if any actual peaks. The highest “peak” we drove up today was 517m. The name “peak” comes from the Saxon tribe that inhabited the area, rather than a reference to mountains. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is much-visited by people from the nearby cities of Manchester and Sheffield.
After the now-obligatory coffee stop at Costa’s enroute, we stopped at the National Trust car park at Alderly Edge. This is a story book wooded area with views toward the southern Peak District. It was nice to see quite a number of children playing in these woods, as opposed to playing with electronic devices.
Our next stop was to buy lunch in Buxton, a spa town known as the gateway to the Peak District. The tourist info chap here was very helpful, pointing us in the right direction for scenic pursuits. We did not know what to expect, so what we then saw made a huge impression on us.
The highlight of the day was Mam Tor (named “Mother Hill” by the Celts), a prominent hill with 360° views. Once we saw it after rounding a curve in the road, even without knowing what it was, we decided instantly that we had to park and walk over to it and up to the top (we could discern other humans atop it). The approach was through sheep paddocks where careful footwork was essential. On previous days we had seen lambs lying flat and motionless on the ground and had assumed that they were dead, but on closer inspection today the “dead” lambs disproved this hypothesis by scrambling away as we approached.
Mam Tor is really the end of a ridge, and from its peak one looks down on either side. The green rolling features of the terrain send my aesthetic sensors into overdrive. I have told Joan not altogether in jest to scatter my ashes here.
After returning to the car we took a very very steep road into nearby Castleton, one of the bigger villages here. The road was so steep that I did actually have to use first gear and even then it would have over-revved without application of brakes. The gradient seemed steeper than the previous winner, Porlock Hill. I’m guessing between 1:4 and 1:3, nearer the former. From Mam Tor we had seen a prominent large white industrial building outside Castleton. As we drive past it we saw that it was derelict.
The return home, like the morning approach was mostly along motorways. There is a lot of traffic on these so you really have to be on the ball, even though drivers are generally well-behaved and predictable. I tend to be done-in by the end of it.