I was sat the other evening watching television and a commercial caught my attention: the notion was appealing, A World Away that’s not so far away. The scenery looked wonderful – a train gliding along with fresh rolling landscapes peeling past; outdoor pursuits and cycle rides through sun-dappled woodland; warm and inviting eateries and historic spa towns all leapt through my screen reminding me that there is most definitely A World Away that is not so far away.
The Peak District is a gem in the heart of England and draws thousands of visitors each year from around the globe. I sometimes, as perhaps we all do, fall into the trap of thinking I need to travel abroad to find the peace and tranquillity I am looking for, but we actually don’t. In these times of austerity why not rediscover what’s here on our doorsteps? Just jump in your car, take a train or plane and appreciate a short journey to a little piece of home-grown paradise.
I have been looking at the concept behind A World Away and it is a very simple and wholesome idea: enjoy what you have on your doorstep and support local business; explore our captivating landscapes; soak up the atmosphere of historic market towns and find sophistication in larger towns and cities; enjoy the theatre or eat in award-winning restaurants. By holidaying at home we not only save a little, we boost the economy and open our eyes to what is all around us.
The Peak District has many attractions and activities that are focused on the great outdoors, so when you visit be prepared! We went to a three-day-long festival earlier in the year and stocking up on good essential outdoor gear really ensured we were well equipped to enjoy whatever the good old English weather threw at us. Sprayway outdoor clothing offers a variety of clothing which is competitively priced and versatile so you can be prepared no matter what the heavens might throw at you.
So where to start your outdoor discovery? A favourite and really stunning place to visit would be the Heights of Abraham, welcoming visitors since 1780; this is one of the Peak Districts favourite visitor destinations and is situated in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales in the picturesque village of Matlock Bath. The Heights of Abraham are home to Britain’s first Alpine-style cable car enabling visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the Derwent Valley and the surrounding scenery of the Peak District. Set on the site of an historic lead mine, you can explore the valley and 600 acres of woodland hills and also the underground caverns – you will go back in time and learn all about the miners who worked underground many years ago.
The Peak District boasts many historic houses but one of the grandest and most interesting in my opinion is Chatsworth House: home to the Cavendish family since the 1550s. This house is a literal treasure trove with works of art reaching back over 4,000 years - all genres of art are on display and can be appreciated, from original masterpieces by artists such as Rembrandt and Veronese to new and contemporary artists including David Nash and Edmund Waal. A new visitor route takes you through the house showcasing many unseen rooms and artefacts. Outside is just as impressive with 105 acres of gardens. Points of interest include a gigantic gravity-fed Emperor fountain, a beautiful rockery and Rose garden and a maze that will keep the family entertained for a while. If that is not enough there is also a farmyard and adventure playground and of course miles of walks in tranquil and captivating countryside. Chatsworth House really is worth a visit.
If like me, you enjoy a glass or two of wine and would like to look around an English vineyard (with the opportunity to sample some of the wares) then book a tour at Renishaw Hall Vineyard, planted by the late Sir Reresby in 1972 father of the current owner of Renishaw Hall. For tour dates or more information visit the English Wine Project.
Most of us have heard the name Buxton due in no small part to the famous Buxton spring water. Buxton is another of the Peak District’s most prominent destinations. Originally founded by the Romans this town has a colourful history with tales of Royal prisoners and outlaws living forever in Buxton’s memory. Today you can admire the Georgian architecture, and stroll around the magnificent Pavilion gardens which are a treat for horticultural enthusiasts. The Winter gardens are linked to the renowned Frank Matchams’ opera house, home to one of Britain’s most celebrated Opera festivals: Fringe and the Gilbert and Sullivan festival. Pack your bottles, fill up with pure spring water at St Anne’s Well and take in what Buxton has given out for years.