Peak District, ArtistInCog
Derbyshire is slap-bang in the middle of England (unless you’re from Leicestershire – there are debates!) The Peak District National Park spreads over several counties (covers 500 square miles) but most lies in Derbyshire, at the southern end of the Pennines (a range of uplands that spreads across the north near the Scottish border, often called ‘the backbone of England). This houses dales and valleys, spooky caves, pretty meadows and meandering rivers and streams. It’s also home to 50 species of plants, native oak trees and many mammals, birds, insects and amphibians. Follow the countryside code to protect dogs and livestock.
Buxton (‘Bath of the North’) has healing springs, where Mary Queen of Scots would travel to ‘take the water cure’. Today the company producing Buxton Water is still selling in plastic bottles (wrapped in plastic). Just use a glass filter jug (or start a tap refill scheme. Set at 1000 feet above sea level, Buxton is the highest market town in England, so cooler than surrounding areas. But don’t worry that you’ll have to adjust baking times (needed at high altitudes). Because this advice only starts around 3000 feet above sea level. The only time this would happen in England, was if you climbed Scafell Pike (England’s highest mountain), then decided to start baking!
Chesterfield has a unique ‘crooked spire’ on its Parish church. Nobody knows why. Some say bell-ringing, others say lightning and some even say the Devil did it! Often mistaken for a cathedral, the truth is more likely that the lead tiles (which weigh 32 tons) have caused the wooden spire to buckle under the weight. The village of Eyam (‘eem’) also has an interesting history, which came to light during the COVID pandemic. Back in 1665 and 1666, the Black Death took over England. But villages here who became infected decided to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of others, and isolated themselves from surrounding communities. Some became genetically immune and survived.
Although she came from Hampshire and lived mostly in Bath, Jane Austen wrote her book Pride and Prejudice while staying in Bakewell. DH Lawrence also lived here for a while, where he wrote the short story Wintery Peacock (he didn’t just write controversial novels – his poems on nature are breathakingly beautiful). Obviously if you visit Derbyshire, you start writing masterpieces!
Perhaps Derbyshire most esteemed resident was Florence Nightingale (born in the Italian city, so named after it). First denied her wish to train as sa nurse, she did eventually pursue the profession and is known for reducing mortality rates during the Crimean Water. She also helped fund training for nurses at two London hospitals.