We’ve been roaming the Derbyshire Peak District for what now seems like hours in an attempt to find a suitable route to Stanage Edge. The area we are currently having some navigational difficulty with is called the Dark Peak, presumably, because they don’t like to give out routes or signposts, Postcodes to Stanage Edge. Instead we’ve ended up at a place called Surprise View in the Peak District. A career as a travel writer would not be off to an auspicious start.
What isn’t a surprise is the amount of twatish driving and piss poor parking. It’s a Bank Holiday, so every man and his dog has turned up, some of them have been kind enough to leave their doggy doo doo droppings tied to trees. Predictably, it also has middle-aged men clad in skin-tight lycra showing off their sweat stained buttock crease every time they stand and cycle. Wedgied between Derby and nearby Sheffield, it’s as though the entire population has been displaced and then descended here. It’s enough for me to seriously consider ritual disembowelment, not mine – theirs.
Now we’re up here on bleak barren gritstone moorland with all the grimness of the desolate wastelands of the north. You could stylise the view into black and white to enforce the misery of the bleakness. The Surprise View is overlooking Hathersage and Derwent with heather moors and gritstone edges, erosion shaped Tors of Over Owler Tor, Mother Cap, Higger Tor and the Brigante hill fort of Carl Wark. Millstone circles litter Millstone Edge, presumably so the poor northern buggers grind up rocks to eat when they’ve nowt else left after they’ve finished feasting on their flat caps and whippets.
Jane Austen, she of Pride and Prejudice fame, reckons there is “no finer county in England than Derbyshire.” I’m guessing she didn’t get out that much. Incidentally, as if to further frustrate my folly journey, Keira Knightley, who played Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, stands on Stanage Edge fluttering in the wind, the very same place we can see and were trying to get to.
It’s impossible to feel lost here, a frenzy of kids clambering and scurrying over rocks and roads in every direction, as though planners are determined to concrete over the rest of Britain. It’s not exactly the “magnificent desolation” that Buzz Aldrin spoke about when he stepped foot on the moon. So I’m at loss to explain the ‘all the gear – no idea’ types strolling up here, especially the bloke with the full on flare gun strapped to his back pack. It’s the size of a god damn cannon. Not sure what he’s planning to do with it but a short time later, we hear screaming sirens, I suspect he’s probably shot someone to match the seppuku I suggested earlier. That or I’m just getting as bitter as the taste of the rocks.