I took a one-hour train ride out of Manchester’s Piccadilly station on a small two-car diesel train, and jumped out at Edale, in the Peaks District.
My instructions were simple. Walk 2 1/2 miles to the base of Mam Tor, a spectacular knife-edged mountain where there is a circular walking trail.
I think that’s the first time my itinerary has instructed me to walk anywhere I wanted to go for the next 48 hours, but the weather was fine, I was equipped with just a light daypack, and the road awaited.
I made my way up the winding road to Mam Tor, and was rewarded with a killer view in all directions. Far down in the distance were my evening lodgings, at the Dunscar farm B&B, down a narrow rutted trail that would take me through farm fields and the delightful village of Castleton.
The long driveway gave me pause–because my instructions were to walk all the way back to Castleton for dinner in just a few hours. Later, Gary Glennerster, the farmer half who runs the B&B with his wife Janet, told me about the shortcut. “It’s only eight minutes, just go through the fields!” he said.
I set of around 6:30, and scoped out all of the six pubs in the village, settling on the George, a proper pub with cask ales and a friendly proprietor named Rich who sat at the top of the bar and soon bought me a pint. Later, Gary popped in–it turns out this is his local, or favorite pub, and he was joined by Janet and a friend. As expected, our wide-ranging pub conversation covered a lot of ground, including the grim news about the economics of farming here.
The sheep that dot every field, and of which Gary has about 360, are not valuable for their wool. It costs 1 pound to shear them and when the bales of wool are sold, it’s for just 1.20 each, and they are sent to China to make carpets. Ugh, sad. At least Gary’s Derbyshire lamb gets a good price in the local market.
Find out more about the Visiting the Peak District.