It’s been long established that the average Briton is fatter than they have ever been. With Christmas is just on the horizon, the situation looks set to get still worse and so it’s – quite literally – worth taking steps to address the situation.
Fortunately, Britain is home to a wealth of places where one can do exactly that. The Peak District is a sprawling national park in the heart of the British countryside. It contains an enormous quantity of natural beauty and it’s therefore worthy of consideration if you’re planning a walking holiday in the near future.
With autumn underway, it’s a brilliant time to get up and active – a long walk through the countryside is the perfect bracing antidote to those post-summer blues. This is all the more so if you should happen to have a warming pie waiting for you upon your return.
You’ll likely need to do some driving if you’re to reach your walking route of choice – and it might be that you’re coming from so far afield that you need to stay somewhere. Fortunately, there are many high-quality hotels in Chester, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire – foremost among these being the famous Carden Park, a sprawling hotel, swimming pool, golf course, country club and conference venue in Cheshire.
Where can I walk?
There are a number of different trails in the peak district, between them stretching across 34 miles of British countryside. Many of these trails were converted from disused railway lines in the 70s and 80s and as such they’re flat and forgiving – you’re not about to climb over mountainous outcroppings if you embark upon one of these routes.
Let’s take a look at a few of the longer ones in greater detail.
The High Peak Trail
This trail will take you along one of the world’s first railway lines. It was first built in the 1820s and joins the Peak Forest Canal and the Comford Canal, spanning a total of 33 miles – though only the latter portion of the original line is open to walkers today. The steam engine at this time was in the early stages of its introduction and so much of the work along the flat sections was done with the help of horses.
For the inclined sections, however, stationary steam engines were used to lend the horses a helping hand. These engines were called beam engines and were housed in special buildings called engine houses. Walkers along this trail can pop into the engine house at Middleton Top and see an example of this pioneering technology!
Just south of the High Peak Trail lies a two-mile-long reservoir. Since the early nineties, it’s served as an emergency water reserve for the area. There’s an eight-mile trail circumscribing the reservoir, which crosses over a dam and passes through two villages – Carsington and Hopton. This route is ideal for those looking to catch a glimpse of some wildlife, since there are many wildlife viewing points dotted along the way.
While the High Peak Trail was among the first of the area’s railway lines, the nearby Tissington trail was among the last of the Victorian era, opening just prior to the turn of the century. Its purpose was to supply London with milk – though its existence enabled the establishment of a number of quarries along its route, each able to easily export limestone to the nation’s industrial centres. The trail features an immaculately-preserved signal box, allowing visitors to see exactly how trains of the period were directed. The southernmost end features a 600-metre tunnel, which emerges into the town of Ashford.
Rules of the Trail
There are a number of general rules that one should obey in order to get the best from these trails (and, indeed, to allow others to do so). These include a few basic courtesies. Cyclists, for example, might ring their bells whenever they’re approaching pedestrians from behind and refrain from cycling at excessive speeds. Pedestrians, on the other hand, might avoid climbing over fences, dropping litter and keeping to the left hand side of the path unless overtaking.
The Peak District National Park Authority (or PDNPA) have put together this helpful poster in order to get across most of these rules succinctly. While this stuff isn’t exactly rocket science, small children might not quite appreciate that bellowing at a horse in a darkened tunnel might not be the best course of action – and so a little gentle persuasion from accompanying adults might be called for!