Still on our mission to remain in the UK in case we were required, we looked for somewhere we had never been before. We were due at Newark on 28th for some warranty work to be undertaken on the van so, after studying the map of UK, we decided to head for the area around Buxton (a pleasant cross country trip to Newark). There was a reasonable deal on at the campsite in Blackshaw Moor, so we booked in for 6 nights. The location provided us with a number of small towns, lovely countryside and National Trust properties to explore.
The campsite at Blackshaw Moor was ideally situated between Leek and Buxton and had good views all around.
It was not long since the heavy snows, and there were places where it was still very much in evidence. As it was still rather wet everywhere we stuck with visiting the attractive small towns and a couple of National Trust properties.
Our first excursion was to the spa town of Buxton. We caught the bus and had a dashing ride along the hilly and winding roads. It was nice to be able to view the passing scenery rather than having to constantly scan the road. Once there, we enjoyed a visit to one of the oldest surviving tea shops, Hargreaves, which had been in the same family for generations, the Pavilion Gardens which were opened in 1871 and the Concert Hall in 1875.
There is also a fabulous Victorian greenhouse attached to the Pavilion building which has undergone a restoration project.
The town boasts many fine Georgian and Victorian buildings and the famous Crescent is the latest restoration project underway.
With all the history, elegant buildings and beautiful gardens, it is a place well worth a visit.
After a day at base trying to shake off our colds, a 5 mile round trip on foot to Tittesworth Reservoir (nice visitor centre) notwithstanding, we decided to have a National Trust day. The chosen venue was Biddulph Grange Gardens. Although it was a dull day, we found the gardens very attractive and could imagine the grandchildren enjoying the many secret gardens contained within. The carp in the small lake were enormous and very keen to enjoy any offerings that came their way. We were charmed by the Chinese garden and intrigued by the God versus Darwin exhibition. You would have to visit to appreciate its uniqueness.
After lunch we decided to go back via the small market town of Leek. Being a Saturday, the market was an antiques and collectables market. There are several small independent shops around the market place which we had a look around. I bought some wool in a lovely little craft shop. After Buxton, the town was a bit less interesting for us.
Next day found us heading for another National Trust property. This time we visited Little Moreton Hall which involved a very scenic drive from the campsite. The Hall is unique as it has been largely unmodified since it was built 500 years ago.
The reason for the level of preservation was that for 200 years, it was tenanted. The tenants lived in one part of the building and the other rooms were only used when the owners came to visit. The long oak table in the main hall is an original and it is fascinating to imagine how many people have sat there over the 500 years. The table comprises boards set on trestles. The boards are so long it is clear that they came from a very mature tree and it would have been a tree that was growing on the land belonging to the owners of the house. The boards would have been leant against the wall when not in use to provide a clear space for sleeping. They would also have been used as a stage for travelling actors (hence “treading the boards”). There were so many interesting facts, it was a thoroughly enjoyable visit. We treated ourselves to an afternoon cuppa in the garden whilst we soaked up the atmosphere.
The next lovely town we visited was Ashbourne where we enjoyed the old buildings and church. We had lunch in a quirky little delicatessen down a side street. Strangely, I didn’t take any photos here so you will have to imagine it!
On the way back to the campsite we took a different route to enjoy the beautiful scenery and stopped at Parsley Hay. This is the site of an old railway junction and is now a walking and cycling centre. The far-reaching views were fabulous.
Next day we were on our way to Newark otherwise we would have stayed for longer. There is still a lot of the Peak District for us to return to.