England has districts much like we have areas in the U.S. Where we have the Midwest, they have the Peak District.Where we have the Pacific Northeast, they have the Lake District. Rough approximations.
I hadn't paid much attention to these areas, rather focusing on what cities or castles to visit. After a night of darts at the pub with Dad and Greg, an English native, Zach and I realized that there must be something going on in the Peak District because the English native and assimilating American expat would not. stop. talking. about it.
Still, Zach and I weren't feeling up to cracking the bus code. I have an irrational fear of navigating buses. I don't know why. Then Greg called and offered to be our tour guide on his day off. The fates had aligned for some Peak District discovery.
Greg drove us to Matlock Bath, a small little town that was once a spa resort town, but is now more like the introduction-to-the-Peak-District town. There's a mining museum, a textile museum, cable cars that take you to the top of a peak, rafting, and ice cream. All of that sounds so exciting, I know you took this place right off your hypothetical travel list because you would just burst if you were to visit a mining AND textile museum in one day. That's sarcasm. That's how I felt about this place. Then I got out of the car.
This town is beautiful. It's nestled around a skinny, windy road, as most of England is, with buildings and houses scaling the steep cliffs in illogical ways. It's covered with trees and bordered by a river lazily flowing toward the textile mill. The shops and attractions are touristy, but that's what this place lives on, so I'll allow it. Also, that just means there's more ice cream options.
So we picked up some ice cream and started wandering. There's a path on the side of the river that we strolled until it became too boring. Boys being boys, Greg and Zach started scaling the steep cliffs. I had recorded their efforts on Vine, but Vine has since pretended that I don't exist and won't let me in. After it was clear to them that I was not chancing the sacrifice of my ice cream in attempts to climb a hill, they tumbled down and we found a legitimate hiking path to the top.
The view from the top, even on a foggy day, was incredible. I feel like this is a part of England that doesn't come to mind immediately, though it's referenced in a lot of literature and films (Jane Austen, for example).
That, and it's worth the reference.
The following week, and my last week in Derby, Dad skipped out of work early to take me to Chatsworth House, which is also in the Peak District. This is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. It's also Pemberley, if you're familiar with Kiera Knightley's version of Pride and Prejudice. The house itself has a rich history with visits from Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens. I referenced Wikipedia there because I feel like you get real facts and fun facts all at once, but the official page is better for pictures.
I love visiting people's houses. I realize the estate of a Duke and Duchess is a little different than a house, but I am fascinated with how people live, and their extravagance did not disappoint.
Queen Victoria slept in this room with the elephants. I was really tempted to borrow one of these perfect ceramic white elephants. Borrow and love forever.
I can't remember the purpose of every room, but I'll just throw pictures at you so you can imagine yourself in a giant ballgown or dapper tux and top hat in this 2D virtual tour.
As I was doing my usual creeping in the library, trying to get as far over the barriers as possible without setting off alarms or calling too much attention to myself, the guide/security/butler/man in a suit standing in the room told me that the voices I was hearing were those of the Duke and Duchess.
Then I creeped harder. He was impressed with my skills (seriously) and asked if I could play piano and perhaps entertain them (true life). Unfortunately, I still can't play anything other than Chopsticks, and all I know with that is to bang on the two keys at the same time, so I think it's a rough approximately of Chopsticks. I fully understand that my mother ruined my life by not recognizing the potential in my super long fingers and now I've missed my chance at royalty. Just kidding, Mum. Sorta.
Sullen from my missed chance at fame, Dad and I walked the gardens. They were pretty, and probably even better in the summer. I can't really recover from my piano disgrace, however.
Linking up with Helene and a bunch of other awesome travel stories today!