Wednesday, we will travel by car to Manchester to meet Martin and Chris who we met on our river trip from Cologne along the Rhine in Germany. The trip to Manchester would normally mean heading for Stoke on Trent then onto the M6 and a dreary drive fighting the traffic and road works so we decided we would head out through Derby and follow the rim of the Peak District around to Leek and then across to Warrington and Newton where we would meet them.
As usual the Peak District was beautiful and green. We stopped for morning tea at Leek another historic market town. The town square had some market vendors and a lovely cake shop where we stopped for coffee and a lolly shop for something to suck on whilst driving to Newton. As we left I noticed the Police station although I suspect the building has a different use today.
We met at a Toby Carvery which is a franchised pub built in an early 19th century style with a carvery buffet. Nice food and lashings of it. It was wonderful to catch up again but Martin has been “in the wars” falling 18 feet off a ladder although you wouldn’t know it to see him now.
Thursday and our time in England has come to an end. Pack the suitcases and head for the M1 back to London Gatwick. The trick when travelling the motorways is to avoid major delays otherwise no matter how well prepared you maybe, delays can take hours to clear and planes will be missed. The M1 was free flowing until we stopped in Northamptonshire for morning tea. Unbeknown to us there had been a severe motor accident on the north bound lanes and when that occurs emergency vehicles will use the lanes on the opposite side of the highway to access the incident thereby stopping traffic in the opposite direction. We had planned for that eventuality and despite languishing somewhere between Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire on the M1 we made it to the dreaded M25. I say dreaded because delays will most often occur on the M25 just because of the volume of the traffic and as usual we had some minor delays. After all was said and done we arrived with time to spare to have lunch and prepare for the flight to Florence.
The Peak District is west and north – west of Derby. It is comprised of hills and valleys covered in heather and green during spring, summer and autumn but in winter it is covered in snow. Svein’s wife Diane had visited Kerry in September whilst I had returned to Australia for work and she was so taken by the Peak District that Svein needed to see it for himself.
Now Svein is an artist and lives in the old town of Brugges in Belgium. Painting landscapes is not his style but he has a keen appreciation of nature and it’s beauty. We decided we would visit Matlock then visit Chatsworth House and move onto Buxton and then home. Here in Long Eaton we had seen snow flurries and felt the chilling winds but the snow did not last and fortunately neither did the ice that follows the snow. But it was a different story as soon as we started climbing the rural roads outside Chesterfield to travel to Matlock. Upon arriving in Matlock the temperature had dropped significantly there was slush in the street with black ice and we decided it would be good to visit in spring.
I set Tommy (our gps) for the quickest route to Buxton and we would pick up signs to Chatsworth on the way. However at one point Tommy told us to turn left and clearly that was not going to happen. In front of us there appeared a narrow village street with both sides lined with parked cars both street and cars covered in snow (no snow plough here). Thistle has front wheel drive and after we had travelled about 4 metres, Thistle started to slip and slide up the hill in front of us. We had another 200 metres to go to the top of the hill when I made the decision to slide back down to the intersection and find another road to Chatsworth House. However it was so pretty I was directed to stop for the photo gathers to snap pictures.
We found our way to Chatsworth House under snow. Now I expect Diane will be envious but it cannot be helped. We have been here numerous times but we were still not ready for the Christmas card scene. The house was not open for visitors but the stables were and it was nice to get out for a walk and shelter from the wind. Inside the stables we found the local Peak District Artisans had a display. Fantastic promotion of the artisans and their work which included jewellery, silverware, ceramics, art, furniture photography and textile design. Svein was jealous that there is no similar promotion for the artisans of Brugges.
We moved on to Taddington. As we drove to Buxton through the snow and frozen trees of the Peak District a sign on the edge of the road pronounced “Food – next mile”. Svein was looking for lunch at a country pub and you don’t get much more country that Taddington. So we left the road for the track that led to Taddington and the Queens Arms Hotel.
After parking Thistle in a down – hill position to ensure we could leave we went into the hotel where we were the only patrons. The fire was alight and warm a small space in front of it. Otherwise the bar was as cold as a witch’s elbow. Sitting beside the fire we ordered lunch and it was just what Svein wanted – a large plate with lashings of chips and ale pie. An hour or so went by and still no other patrons came into the pub. I awakened the barmaid sitting prone in front of a two bar electric heater messaging on her phone. As we paid our bill the barmaid announced that the road to Buxton was closed due to snow and we may need to rethink our route. We decided to risk the journey and set off.
The snow had stopped and we made it safely into Buxton. We had read about the world’s largest unsupported dome being in Buxton. With a diameter of 44 m (144.356 ft), larger than the Pantheon (43 metres (141 ft)) and St Peter’s Basilica 42 m (137.794 ft) in Rome, and St Paul’s Cathedral (34 metres (112 ft))it was created for the 7th Duke of Devonshire between 1780–1789 from the Great Stables formerly part of the Crescent. The Crescent was modelled on Bath’s Royal Crescent along with an irregular octagon and colonnade of the Great Stables. The Dome became the Devonshire Royal Hospital (now the Devonshire Campus of the University of Derby). The record was surpassed by space frame domes such as the Georgia Dome (256 metres (840 ft.). The building and its surrounding Victorian villas are part of the University of Derby.
After a visit to the Dome and a hot chocolate at our favourite chocolate shop we agreed we were cold enough to call it a day and headed home.