The UK was a recent addition to my travel bucket-list.
Funny that I say that as a British citizen, but touring this small island never really appealed to me. And it’s no surprise: family trips to Aberdeen to visit Scottish family filled me with the kind of dread I couldn’t quite articulate at a young age. Racial abuse, hostility and the desire to shrink. Toto, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
But a lot has happened since then, and I’m determined to not let negative experiences hinder my mobility – Britain has much to offer by way of natural, unspoilt landscapes, quaint villages and proper Sunday grub. And although she joins daydreams of cycling through Balinese paddy fields, stunting at private beaches and parlaying at international strip clubs, I welcome this new desire to live out my Wuthering Heights fantasies.
I decided to go to the Peak District.
I remember seeing pictures of this idyllic spread of towering mountains and plush shrubbery, and I knew I had to visit. My good friend was in the UK for the summer and was more than happy to join me. Her energy is sensational, her laughter infectious and our banter ridiculous – the perfect travel companion.
On the road
A camper van, although desired, was out of the question. Motorway driving is not my portion, so a national express from Victoria to Sheffield suited us just fine.
We both decided that we wanted to make Sheffield our base. It was only a short train journey away from the Peak District national park, and it would give us the opportunity to check out this lively university town. A cab ride from Sheffield bus station to our pub hotel was a mere fiver. We arrived at The Harley pub hotel 10 minutes later.
‘Just wanna warn you we have a few student socials in the evenings, but we’ve put you in the farthest part of the hotel.’
‘You’re not directly above the speaker system, so it shouldn’t be an issue’ said the misguided barman with the kind eyes. We smiled knowingly, took our room key and headed to our room. We later discovered this couldn’t be further from the case*
Nous sommes arrivés!
We shared an ensuite twin room facing a busy street side street. It was no-frills, non-pretentious and cosy. It was perfect. Our room came with tea and coffee making facilities, WIFI (a bit choppy) and a little seating area outside – we were also entitled to two free full English breakfasts each.
We took a train to Edale, Peak District the following morning.
The pictures speak for themselves. It was breathtaking and the locals were lovely [greeting strangers still feels unatural to me.]
The Peak District is an essential place to visit.
*On our first night, we were woken up by vibrating windows and what I imagine an earthquake to feel like. It turns out it didn’t actually didn’t matter how far away you were placed from the speakers, as we came to discover on ‘drum and bass’ night. In the spirit of adventure, we decided to join the party the following night. It was live.
Where we stayed: The Harley – booking.com £54 each for two nights (practically in the city centre)
Transport: National Express to Sheffield coach station.
Getting into the Peak District: A tram to Sheffield station, then a return train to Edale (£8). Journey time roughly 30 minutes.
- the Peak district is huge. I seriously recommend getting a map (something we failed to do); it is impossible to cover it in a day.
- the Peak district can be easily accessed from many other surrounding cities.
- bring hiking shoes and prepare to use your hamstrings.
- pubs in Edale are a little costly.
- don’t eat a large meal before attempting the hike (don’t drink a pint either – I’m not sure who I thought I was).