A Slow Weekend In The Peak District
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that until last weekend, I’d never visited the Peak District before. Somehow, despite the fact that I’ve always lived within a 90 minute drive of the national park, and despite how breathtakingly beautiful this part of the world is, the Peak District has always evaded me.
I’d love to say that I made a huge effort to rectify that this year, but that would be a lie. The truth is, when my two best friends and I were trying to decide where to go for a girly weekend away, it was pure geography that drew us to the Peaks. It’s central location made it attractive to 3 girls living in different corners of the country, but we quickly discovered that this region had so much more to offer than sheer convenience.
We chose a beautiful Airbnb nestled in between Bakewell and Buxton as our home for the weekend, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. It had large windows that looked out onto the River Wye, a big open plan kitchen and living space that was more than spacious enough for the 3 of us, and a beautiful old AGA which I fell in love with.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, our cars full of fizz and snacks, waterproofs and walking boots. We started the weekend in the same way we start every get together - with lots of excited chatter and a few glasses of wine. Once we’d caught up on all the most pressing matters, we sat down at the dining table and dug into our dinner. My friend Emily had very kindly whipped up some delicious pork belly tacos in advance using this recipe, which meant that we could cut down the cooking time and focus on the eating instead!
We spent the rest of the evening putting the world to rights, drinking a bit (okay, okay, a lot) more wine, and dancing around to the songs we used to dance to when we were 17. We retired to our beds in the wee hours, opting for the bunk beds rather than the comfy king size in our drunken states.
I woke earlier than the girls the following morning, and spent an hour or so curled up on the sofa in the living room drinking tea, reading my book, and taking in the beautiful view from the window - it really was so soothing. Once the girls were up we enjoyed a breakfast of pastries and coffee, before getting ready for a day out and about in the fresh air.
We were spoiled for choice with potential walks near to where we were staying, but we settled on this one, which incorporated both Bakewell and Chatsworth, two spots we were hoping to see. We parked up in Bakewell and headed off on the trail, scrambling up hills, crossing over streams and hiking through fields, all the while breathing in that fresh country air.
It felt like we were stopping every two seconds to snap photos or marvel at what we were seeing - I was seriously blown away by just how gorgeous the landscape was, and it felt like every turn brought another breathtaking view. Eventually we dropped down into Edensor, the most charming little village that forms part of the Chatsworth Estate. We stopped to buy some cakes at the tea shop, and played a quick game of “which house would you buy if you won the lottery?”, before continuing our walk on to Chatsworth House.
As we’d already been walking for hours and still had another hour and a half to go we didn’t stop for a snoop around Chatsworth House, but the views from the top of the hill more than made up for it. After plenty of oohing and ahhing, we made our way back to Bakewell in the sunshine, where we sat at a little table outside and refuelled with Bakewell tarts and puddings.
While the baked goods are a definite attraction, the town of Bakewell has got so much more to offer - beautiful architecture, interesting shops, and from the looks of things, some great pub beer gardens too! I’m determined to head back again soon with my husband to explore even more, and I’d love to checkout Buxton too, which isn’t too far away.
Tired out from all of the hilly hiking, we headed back to our Airbnb and watched some cheesy movies on the sofa (we may have sung along at the top of voices to Mamma Mia…) before heading to the pub down the road for a few pints of cider. It’s so funny - I very rarely frequent the pub near my house, but there’s something about being away in the countryside which make a visit sort of the law?!
When we got back, I was lucky enough to be catered for again, this time by friend Fiona, who whipped up a steak dinner fit for kings. There was more fizz, more deep, meaningful chats, and a bit more singing, before we all dragged our weary bodies to bed. Sadly we all had to head off in our different directions pretty early on Sunday morning, but we did so with full hearts and bellies that hurt from laughing.
As I wound my way along the country lanes of the Peak District on the way home, I felt so bloody lucky. Lucky to have such brilliant friends in my life, who teach me so much and cheer me on relentlessly. Lucky to have been able to spend some time in such a beautiful part of the world, and to have discovered some new places that I know I’ll be returning to for years to come. And lucky to be able to have weekends like this with my friends - weekends without strict itineraries or jam packed schedules, weekends with enough space and room for pottering and walking and putting the world to rights.
It was so restorative to spend a slow weekend in the Peak District with my two oldest friends. These are the weekends that make the year for me, the ones that I know I’ll still remember in years to come. These are the weekends that make all the stress and hustle and late nights worth it.
Now, where shall we plan our next one?