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My travels through England’s Peak District was a bit of an adventure. I was in England for the summer traveling solo. I was trying to decide what in the world I was supposed to do with my life. I was visiting churches and mission groups in England that summer and while in the Manchester area visiting a church I was staying with a very nice older widow residing in Macclesfield which is south of Manchester.
Macclesfield is a lovely village on it’s own and like so many tiny villages in the UK is worth a stop over. It has a beautiful high street and country chapel.
She quickly learned of my love of British Literature, specifically Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen as well as my love of BBC adaptations of literary classics. She was my guide to England’s Peak District which is adjacent to the Manchester area to the East.
The Peak District is Britain’s oldest National Park and 540 square miles! It is beautiful and a bit misleading with a name like “Peak District” as there are no actual “peaks”. The area has rolling hills and gentle rises that reach no higher than 2,000 feet.
This area is excellent for hiking and I highly recommend it. Whether a short morning or afternoon hike or a several day trek there are several great walks with gorgeous views.
My hostess drew up an itinerary for myself and two new friends to follow to explore this majestic and breathtaking area.
Our adventure started with a visit to Lyme Park which is found on the Northern end of the Peak District.
This house has been used as the model for Pemberley in the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice (1995).
The first town we visited was Buxton. This Spa Town originated when the Romans first visited in AD 79 and called the waters here “Waters of the Goddess of the Grove” and believed they cured many ailments. The waters are bubble from between 3,500 and 5,000 feet below ground. Buxton became a Spa Town in the 18th century that, although much smaller, rivaled Bath. The town boasts beautiful architecture with it’s remaining 18th and 19th century buildings and parks. You can still drink the “healing waters” from St. Ann’s Well. Be warned though, the water is heavy with minerals and may not be to your liking.
The second town on our trip was Bakewell. Bakewell is a Market Town and has a weekly Market Day every Monday with local farmers in attendance. I still remember a local florist presenting me with a flower for free when he said I was lovely and that he fancied me. The crowds can get quite large though on Market Day and it can be difficult to find a parking space if driving.
Bakewell is also the commerical hub of the Peak District and has excellent shopping.
Bakewell is also famous for their pudding. Several establishments claim to have the original recipe, but make a stop in at The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop for a sample of one of the best.
There are two great houses worth a visit, especially if you are a fan of British Literature and BBC like myself.
The first is the Chatsworth House which is considered the “Palace of the Peak” and can be found 4 miles North East of Bakewell. This house was used for Pemberley in the Kiera Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice (2005). This is the house with the amazing sculptures seen in the movie.
Fun Fact: Both houses used for Pemberley in the films are found in the Peak District, but in the book Elizabeth Bennett and her Aunt and Uncle are touring the Lake District when they make a visit to Pemberley. The Lake District is found farther north south of Carlisle.
The second great house is Haddon Hall which dates back to 1180. This house has been used as Thornfield Hall in 3 versions of Jane Eyre and has also been featured in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Princess Bride.
The Peak District can be reached by rental car, but be prepared if your from America that you will need to feel comfortable driving on the other side of the road! Also, the country roads can get quite narrow to the point where they are a single lane. If you encounter another car, you or they just has to back up until you find spot you both can get around. Or, you may get held up by crossing sheep like we did!
You can also take a train from London to Manchester and a bus from Manchester through the Peak District using the TransPeak Bus Service. You can also purchase a Wayfarer Ticket that can be used for groups up to 2 adults and 2 children. It covers a days travel on all forms of transportation in the Manchester area and Peak District.
As you can see the Peak District is full of beauty and romance. It is well worth at least a day, if not more to explore all that it has to offer!
Have you traveled through this area of England? What is your favorite spot?
Craving more British Travel? Check out my post on How to Travel to England for less than $2,000!
A British Literature fanatic like me? Check out my post The Jane Austen Fanatic’s Guide to Bath!