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20 November 2017


our night in sheffield was just the start of the weekend, really. on saturday morning, after we filled up on breakfast and street art, we jumped in the car and headed toward the very south of yorkshire, and into the world-famous peak district. the drive from the centre of sheffield to castleton - our first stop, was only about a forty minute drive, and it was easily one of the prettiest drives i've ever taken.

the colours in that part of the country are absolutely incredible. i kept stopping talking mid-sentence out of sheer awe of what was outside the car windows, and it just never seemed to end. the hills rolled on for miles and miles, and the green and yellow fields seemed infinite. we had managed some fab weather while we were in sheffield, but we were racing against the rain clouds as we made our way through the peaks and fields of south yorkshire.

our first stop was the small village of castleton, which is home to the peak, speedwell and treak caverns. we got out the car and had a walk through the village, and up to peak cliff - just to take it all in. that was pretty impossible as it is, even when craning your neck skyward, the magnitude of the cliff's height was just breathtaking. castleton was this quaint little cobbled village with colourful doors and a flowing stream with ducks in it, and it was all just so damn charming!

we had the opportunity to go into the treak cliff cavern with one of the guides/miners (yes, they still mine it!), and see the world renowned "blue john" stone for ourselves. the mines there date back as far as 1750, when the mines were originally tunnelled out with hand-held tools. these caverns are the only place in the world you can find this blue john stone, so it's obviously a very special place, and being so far underground with the guide was a bit unsettling. i wouldn't say i have claustrophobia, but.. that shit is scary! all damn, dark, and wet, and hundreds of meters underground? probs won't be doing that again anytime soon.

another well-known village we passed on our way from sheffield was bakewell. yes, as in the tarts. we only planned to stop for a bite to eat, and ended up spending a good hour or two wandering around the historic village; bakewell is the ancient capital of the peak district, and yes - home of bakewell tarts.. which were terribly overpriced (damn economy), so we opted for derbyshire fudge instead. we also noted a few independent charity shops along the high street, which - if you're a reader of this blog, will know i picked up quiiiite a few things in there. the village was a really happy find, and only one we spotted on a highway sign and made a detour for - luckily!

we spent the night at east lodge hotel in the small village of rowsley, and as soon as we pulled in the drive, we knew we were in for a treat. the visit britain four star gold winner is spread across ten acres of beautifully landscaped water gardens that are stunning year-round (more proof of that coming later this week), and hosts twelve luxury bedrooms, a multi award-winning restaurant, and one beautifully lit front garden bar. upon arrival, we were speechless. and bloody knackered, so we napped a bit before we hit the restaurant for an incredible dinner.

the rooms were a tad old fashioned (the lodge is older than time though, so well played), but more than comfy and perfect for napping. we popped down to the restaurant as it opened, and were the first people there.. for a good forty minutes. we were outnumbered by staff, so it was a tad off-putting at first as each and every one of them tried to serve us, but once the guests started arriving, it petered off a bit. thankfully, the food was as good as we'd hoped, and after two and a half courses, had to retire with the bottle of fizz to our rooms to put on comfy clothes and watch a little x factor. it was the perfect way to close out our first day in the peak district, and an utterly relaxing way to start the next.

the next morning, after a heaaaaarty breakfast back in the east lodge's restaurant, we (after an impromptu photo shoot in the beautiful gardens) jumped in the car and headed to chatsworth house - the oldest and grandest stately home in the peak district. the house is home to the duke and duchess of devonshire, and dates back to the 16th century, so it's like.. pretty old, and it's also mahoooosive. and, i mean - ok: you've seen one house, you've seen them all, right? but! chatsworth has so much more than your standard national trust property, like: a hedge maze. not one, not two, but three greenhouses. a giant rose garden. lots of dogs. looots of dogs - and farm animals! an amazing afternoon tea. a super cheap sunday roast (omg - so good). and an abundance of history. oh, and right now? a charles dickens exhibition, so. everyone wins at chatsworth.

we spent a good couple of hours exploring chatsworth and all its grandeur (so. many. rooms!), and then had to head off so i could make my very long train journey home. i didn't really know what to expect from the peak district - having been all around this little island of ours, i rarely think i'll see anything new, but.. i really did. the countryside is bladdy gorgeous, and just being out of the city for a few days is so good for the soul. i mean, you literally cannot be unhappy when the sky is that blue, and the grass is that green - am i right? so, that's another part of the uk ticked off, and i'm contemplating the next.. any suggestions?

*we were guests of visit england, but all words are my own.

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