A little peek in the Peak District
It´s been a while since I went out on a little trip. The fact I am working most of the time together with the British weather doesn´t leave much room to enjoy the pleasure of the country in two wheels until late March, mid April. A little escape was on my mind…
My other half´s birthday was coming soon, so I planned meticulously a road trip to the Peak district without disclosing it to her. Luckily is was sunny and warm. I did my usual research such as finding scenic routes and activities in the area. Also had to book a hotel room which wasn´t easy, most were fully booked but after a few calls I found a room in Buxton town at the Buckingham Hotel.
The big day finally arrived. Marie still had no idea where were we going and thought I was pranking her with a ride around the M25. We left by 5.30pm Friday, stopping quickly by the motorcycle school where I work just to stretch Marie´s chain as it was a bit loose. We then went northbound on the M1. The usual boring motorway ride… long and uninteresting, good to get my tyres squared.
Along the M1 there were some road works and road closure warning signs on routes I planned, so I had to find an alternative. The Donington service area seemed to be a good place for a little break and to check maps. There, I met the best traffic officers ever, who helped me out and searched the best routes to take as several accesses were closed. Marie was still in the dark, clueless about our destination.
We left the service area towards Derby and after Ashbourne the road became more interesting… more twisted and very hilly, adding to the fact that it was night and there was no street lights, just my headlight showing the road ahead… It wasn´t even cold at 10pm… just perfect!!! Anyway, we arrived in Buxton safe and sound.
Our first impression about Buckingham Hotel on entry was that it was a little worn out, old fashioned and big. There was no one at the reception so I simply entered following the noise of people talking which took me to the hotel bar. As I spoke with the man behind the bar everyone around started laughing at me ( a bit odd). The barman (wearing an old T-shirt totally ripped off) then took me to the reception area and gave me the room key, number 15. There is no lift, so it was quite a hike up to the 2nd floor. The heat hit us around the first floor, together with a smell of old furniture mixed with mold. Definitely this hotel had seen better days as it was possible to see that it needs restoration work. Our room was no exception, the walls are covered with some garish wallpaper and the carpet is really old, decoration wise, pictures of Nicole Kidman were hanging all around the walls ( how weird). At least the bedsheets were clean and the bedroom fairly clean, comfortable and spacious. Well, it was just for a night really, and for the price it wasn´t that bad!
Before going to bed we decided to go to the town center to eat something. Buxton is small, but appears to have a good night life, lots of bars and night clubs and everyone around seemed to be happilly drunk ( or on magic mushrooms as Marie described). Anyway, we just wanted a snack and to go back to the hotel.
I had planned a full Saturday… A ride out thorough the famous Snake and Winnats passes and cavern visits in the town of Castleton. We left the hotel around 9.30 am to find a place to eat a proper breakfast. We went to Buxton town and ate at the “Eat @No. 5”. Staff was very friendly and warm, also the food was good too.
It´s a road (A57) between Glossop and the Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District. Its name derives from a local Inn (Snake Inn) but also matches the road as it has several bends. It is quite steep before it sinks in the Ladybower forest, however I don’t believe it is considered a U.K. dangerous road, a few blind bends but that is it. Snake Pass is quite popular among cyclists and bikers, specially when the weather is good. The summits are at about 520mts above the sea level. Piece of cake for the CBR´s.
We passed Banford, Hope and arrived at Castleton town. It is definitely a very scenic and a pretty route for a bike ride, also quite pleasant and fun. There are loads of points of interest in this region; Caverns, castles, and it´s a great area to hike and enjoy the sight seeings in between many other activities. We were there only for a day so I had planned caving. There are three major caverns: speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern (also known as the Devil´s arse), Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern. Unfortunately we didn´t have time to check out all of them.
The Speedwell Cavern;
The only access you have is by boat… the entrance is quite interesting, you have to go down a long staircase to then jump on a little metal boat pulled by a small electric engine that takes you under the ground trough a narrow tunnel. The guide was very young, pretty cool and fun and we had to use our hands on the rock to maneuvre the boat at a stage. That long small tunnel leads to a big limestone cavern. It´s an interesting experience and also its story such as the “bottomless pit”. Of course to explore it all in depth you must book a different guide and use appropriate equipment, such as torches, helmets and ropes.
Note: I took way more pictures in the caverns, but they aren´t good at all to share with my little audience. These may give you a little idea of the places.
The Peak Cavern or the Devil´s arse;
It´s a natural cavern with an interesting story… apparently the cavern used to get flooded and when it sarted draining the water, loud sounds echoing similar to farts used to the heard in town, therefore it´s called the Devil´s Arse cavern. It´s a big cave that splits into 3 big caverns (open to the public), some points are so low that even children need to bend in order to pass. Its stories are interesting as well, such as how guided visits used to be in older times and also the Queen (Elisabeth the first) visited it twice.
There´s loads to do and see but time was running fast and we didn´t have time to visit other places, next time definitely I want to go caving with a guide. There are 13 mile long caves in the area, not all are open to the public but it is possible to explore them with a professional guide and appropriate equipment.
We were getting hungry and it was time to find a nice restaurant in town for a good meal. The town is busy and picturesque, crowded with visitors like us going on cavern tours or hiking… it´s a good atmosphere.
After we ate it was time to start thinking to get back to the old London, but, not forgetting to ride trough Winnats Pass, it´s not longer than a couple miles but it´s beauty and shape is unique.