Finding Our Feet

Today marks one hundred days since we moved into our new home in the hills. And not one has gone by, when I haven’t said aloud “I love it here” with an enormous grin on my face. 🙂

Growing up in Leicestershire, the Peak District was my nearest national park. I remember occasional DofE walks through its rolling dales, visits to petal-covered well dressings, and an infamous school trip to watch the notorious Shrovetide match… where we went on the wrong day! But it wasn’t until I got my own car, and thus freedom, that I truly fell in love with The Peak. Throughout my twenties I’d visit a couple of times each year. Bike rides along the disused railways, getting lost following guidebook walks, and shopping sprees in the outdoorsy clothes shops. Rock climbing up jagged crags, lunches of Bakewell puddings, and picnics from high-up viewpoints. The Peak District was where Phil and I took our first grown-up romantic break (aww Holymoorside), where my girlies and I hired our first holiday cottage, and where we spent our weekends as newly-weds living in Sheffield. And one brilliant weekend, many years ago, it was where my best friends and I, celebrated my upcoming wedding, by abseiled off the 90ft Millers Dale bridge, and squeezing through some scarily small spaces whilst caving for the first (and probably last 😉 ) time. In my twenties, I’d look in estate agent windows and dream of living in the Peak District one day.

So it feels pretty incredible that twenty years later, we’ve made it our home. In the intervening years, we’ve hardly visited The Peak; instead exploring and holidaying in the other national parks. And as most of my earlier adventures were in the limestone grasslands and valleys of the southern White Peak; the gritstone crags and heather moorland around our new town in the dramatic northern Dark Peak, is largely unknown to me. Thus, the past one hundred days have been a whirlwind of both reminiscing and remembering, and exploring and discovering. After a manic first month to make the house ‘habitable’, paintbrushes have now been swapped for maps, renovating for adventure. Weekends and evenings are for sight-seeing and meeting people and getting our bearings before the summer rays fade. Finding our feet. 🙂

There’s been dog walks galore. Thank goodness for my wonderful off-road scooter. 🙂 Bumping along rocky bridleways, navigating holes in bracken moorland, quiet country roads. Exploring the dry waterbeds of the parched reservoirs, trying to stay upright on steep hillsides, stone flag paths. Up- down-up-down-up-down. We’ve stood atop the craggy cliffs of Stanage Edge, picnicked on the ridge at Rushup, and spotted our house from Combs Moss- the beautiful hill that fills our back windows. And, as only a mere twenty minutes walk away, many a lunchtime and evening (and one memorable sunrise 🙂 ) have been enjoyed atop our closest summit- Eccles Pike; soaking up the 360* views of our new home.

Having always made villages my home, surprisingly, we love living in a small town. The novelty of having restaurants and shops and cafes on our doorstep, has not yet worn off; much to the horror of my much lighter wallet! 😛 If we run out of BBQ gas at dinnertime, or need more paint mid-job, or have no milk for our morning cuppa; I can scoot to buy more! We can walk home from date night, have takeaway deliveries any day, and on lazy mornings, we can enjoy bacon cobs cooked by someone else! There’s even a library, an amateur playhouse, and a leisure centre within walking distance. Convenience is very novel!

Gradually we’re developing an internal map of the neighbouring towns and villages. Our reliance on satnav is lessening, as roads and routes are becoming more familiar. The surrounding hills are starting to become recognizable from their topography. We’ve sussed out the best chippy and bakery (both Whalley Bridge). We’ve learnt some local lingo- it’s The Peak not Peaks, it’s pronounced Eem not Eyam. 😛 And the neighbours and local facebook group have filled us in on the town stories and controversial issues. It’s best not to bring up the collapsing house in Chapel centre, unless you have time to spare! 😉 We’ve updated our waterproof wardrobe in Castleton’s outdoorsy shops, have choo-chooed around Buxton Park, and walked the plague village streets. Ned Boulding has regaled us cycling stories at the opera house, we’ve discovered Lyme Park, and watched our first ever Hundred match at our new nearest cricket ground (Manchester). And thanks to my gung-ho scootering style, and strong helpers, Poole Cavern has been fully explored by a wheeled user for the first time! 😛

Slowly we are getting to know people. The local writing group have made me welcome; we drink hot chocolate whilst composing short stories or monologues or plays. And although I’ve never painted before; I’m loving my weekly art class. Experimenting with acrylics and watercolours and messy pastels… and one disastrous week, tea on rice paper! 😛 The hubby has rekindled his love of running, much to Kepler’s delight. The only dog in the local club; the pair are getting to know all the nearby trails, and have jogged up half the Peak District Ethels already! And summer evenings watching Phil brave the cold water in skins or kayak, with the outdoor swimming group, have been a highlight. Plus we’re now fully signed-up members of the street Whatsapp group- the modern way to ask to borrow sugar! 😉

Shortly after we moved, whilst regaling our latest adventures, my mother-in-law declared “talk about coming home”. And she was right. It feels exactly like that. This town, these hills, this national park feels so us. We’re surrounded by places we love, and activities we enjoy, and people who equally adore the great outdoors. We may never have lived in the Peak District before, but it does feels like we’ve come home. 🙂

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