A couple of weeks ago, if you'd asked either of us about England's Peak District you would have got an answer along the lines of "umm, it's in the middle somewhere, and ummm <cue frantic Googling>, it's more peaky than the Lake District, which, in contrast, probably is a bit more lake-y" . Despite knowing very little about it, we knew our time in the UK would not be complete without visiting. The second May Bank Holiday was a perfect opportunity.
Like the Lakes, the Peak District is a magnet for Serious Walkers aka Red-Socks, who like nothing more than slamming down 2000 calories of Full English, loading up the 60-litre Karrimor with a couple of sandwiches, and heading out for a bracing 10-mile hike along something called Willey's Willie or Knobgoblin Pass. Indeed some people go to the Peaks for a whole week with a book written by a fellow nylon-fan and do nothing but:
Strenuous; 8-10 hours; Frequent precipices; Unpredictable conditions; Inform authorities; Update will beforehand; walks every single day. But that's not really our thing. Instead we chose a two-hiker-icon, 3-hour "pleasure walk" along a ridge from a book our lovely B & B lady found for us. We figured we'd stomp that in no more than 4 hours and have time to call in to at least one other of the Northern Peak District attractions.
Perhaps we were a little naïve, but the extremely warm conditions turned the pleasure walk into a death march. The mercury was soaring into the upper half of the 20s (don't laugh unless you've experienced this in the UK) and the cheerful directions were always light on the detail when you really needed it most. These authors must go on a special "How to be Specific In Your Vagueness" course before writing - together with their "Scale Is For Losers" map-making colleagues. At the 3-hour mark we were actually only half-way around the loop, but convinced ourselves that our frequent photo-stops were the culprit. After all, it was absolutely stunning, with a clear view right the way back to our starting point, the village of Edale on the valley floor.
We took some time out next to a lovely waterfall before taking a wrong turn and playing chicken with a family of sheep on a goat-track. How agricultural! At last we were on the descent, but even this was strenuous, as it frequently criss-crossed the babbling waters of the Crowden Brook, requiring combinations of careful footwork and energy-sapping jumps to make progress.