Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The English countryside : Peak District

Peaks is something you wont see much in peak district, if that's what you expect! You have bigger mountains in Mumbai than in the peak district :) What you get to see though is the slow rural English culture, with stone houses sprawn across green fields, village shops selling fresh fruits, men playing cricket in the afternoon, and sheep and cows grazing lazily in the meadows. You get to see what you may have read in countless English novels, of hills stretching till where the eyes can see, covered with green grass, meadows with a stream flowing through.. That I guess summarizes this region, a nice weekend getaway about 2 hours or so from London.

You can go there by car, or by the train. The train line only goes till a town
called Chesterfield, from where on you would have to take a cab. There is no public transport in this region, no buses etc as it is quite remote and sparsely populated. But cab services abound. In face, the inhabitants of this area run their private cars as cabs in their spare time!The peak district is a national park, and no new construction is allowed there.
My trip to peak district was very short, an impromptu plan to land up there as a friend wanted to get out of London. So a gang of us landed up for a trek plan for the weekend. Bakewell is the major town centre in this area. We took a trek from Bakewell to Monsal's Head, where our hotel was located. Across hills, walking next to streams and through small forests. You will run into sheep and cows grazing across fields. You may even spot a llama if you are lucky! (I dont think though that they are supposed to be in England!)

Monsal's Head has this amazing hotel run by a family, with rooms with a view of the valley below.
Apparently in the valley below, there was a railroad once which bridge you can still see. The river Wye flows in the valley, you can take a short walk in the area there, is mesmerising (just make sure that you don't get stuck in a hailstorm!!). The restaurant at Monsal's Head is amazing, very very tasty food, especially in the cold weather. You can eat the food inside or outside, depending on how the weather is. There is a pub also next to the restaurant there, where the village folk come everyday for an evening drink. Very nice atmosphere, a very different experience.
Buxton is another town close to the peak district, nothing to see there but a good place if you want to spend just 2-3 quiet days in the countryside. Its fun to pick the freshly grown vegetables sold in shops here, they are tastier than the usual city vegetables:) One place to visit nearby would be the Chatsworth House, an erstwhile house of a Duke (I think!) Majestic building, well maintained gardens.

All in all, a comfortable and relaxing weekend getaway from London.

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