Peak District

Peak District Journal

May Bank Holiday Weekend 2001

On the “May Bank Holiday” weekend (May 5th to May 7th) I travelled up to the north from my home in the south to visit the Peak District. Actually, I was visiting Sheffield as that is where the World Snooker Championships are held every year (I am a big fan of professional snooker). I decided to use the excuse of the snooker to actually visit some of the area that I had in the past only travelled through.

I never like to really leave accommodation to chance so I dug out the maps and decided that the Peak District would be a good place to stay (especially since it was NOT in Sheffield - why stay in a big city when you can enjoy the wonderful countryside?) so I picked Bakewell with little thought to the fact that this town is actually the home of the famous “Bakewell Tart” dessert (though that seems to be pretty much their only claim to fame). I organized a B & B with the local tourist agency.

I set out on the Friday right after work driving through a fair amount of traffic as I weeded my way from my job to the south of London around the M25 to head north along the M1. The drive was quite long and I stopped only briefly for dinner from one of the massive service stations that dot the motorways throughout this country (not exciting food, mind you, just fast food, but very clean…).

I followed some back roads from the motorway to find Bakewell. The small town was dead when I arrived at about 9:30 at night. I managed to find the B & B on the far side of the town after following a single-track dirt road (“Residents Only”) and knocking at only one wrong door before I found it. The B & B was quite small with only 3 or 4 rooms (no TVs in the rooms but one in the main sitting room which visitors have access to, along with various tourist information).


The next day breakfast was quite good (full English, of course – lots of it!) with wonderful scenery to look at. The B & B is on a small river that goes through Bakewell and there were a few swans around along with a number of other birds. Quite quiet and pleasant.

Bakewell - Outside the B & B's front door

I had to have breakfast early as my first snooker match was at 10:00 in the morning (though, it turns out, the B & B seemed to like serving breakfast before 9 EVERY day, 8:30 preferable, including Sunday!). I made my way along a number of small winding roads and over a large number of rolling hills north into Sheffield where, of course, I promptly got lost. I had no trouble getting into the city centre but following the numerous one-way streets was a bit difficult but I did manage to eventually find the (somewhat expensive) car park for the Cruicible Theatre (where the Championships are held).

The snooker was very enjoyable in a very quiet atmosphere (perfect for the game, of course) in a very small auditorium. The theatre also has a small museum of the sport (with a VERY nice snooker table they are selling at something like £30,000 – it WAS an antique, of course).

Inside the Cruicible during the World Snooker Championships

One of the themes of this weekend's snooker would be getting tickets for the various rounds. I had booked my tickets in advance (6 months ahead of time - the demand is VERY big) for the matches though I only received tickets for one of the semi-finals (not the finals that I wanted tickets for). I eventually ended up getting “returned” tickets for all the matches that were played when I was in the city that weekend (including all four of the sessions of the final – though we had to queue on Sunday and Monday for a few hours to get those!).

Sheffield Town Hall

I wandered around Sheffield only briefly. A large part of the core area of the city has been “pedestrianized” so it is easy to get around – but leaves it feeling quite cold and impersonal. Even the night life seems to be practically non-existent save the numerous pubs that open until late. There are not a lot of old buildings though I did enjoy the large open-air market in “The Moor” area (it was ONLY open on the Saturday – every other day of the weekend basically everything was closed!). It was very useful to be able to find something to eat between sessions of snooker though nothing was extremely notable about the area.

City Centre of Sheffield

I got back to the B & B quite late on Saturday.


Another EARLY start to the day I decided to spend a bit of time looking around the area before heading into Sheffield for the first session which started in the mid afternoon. I headed west then north up to Glossop then across the “High Peak” area of the Peak District then eventually into Sheffield. It is absolutely beautiful countryside. Around Bakewell (and Bakewell itself) are wonderful small villages with all sorts of stone houses, trees, valleys, hills, and winding roads. The High Peak area, by contrast, is very sparse (and quite cold and windy when I was there) reminding me very much of the glens in Scotland.

The Peak District

Much of the Peak District was closed off to walkers (including the Penine Way) but I did get out and take some pictures of some sheep! The drive was very fun with a LOT of roads seeming to barely hug the side of the steep hills. Eventually, coming off the High Peak, the trees returned and I stopped briefly to admire the scenery of a large reservoir (Ladybower).

Ladybower Reservoir

Heading south briefly I returned to Sheffield for another day of snooker and another late night. This time it was the beginning of the FINAL (there were four sessions in the final, two on Sunday and two on Monday).


And yet ANOTHER early start to the day. This time I was able to visit the markets in Bakewell that are held every Monday. They are quite large and I was lucky to get some lovely sunny weather as well.

The Wye River in Bakewell

I set out from the B & B and simply crossed a small footbridge just down the dirt road from the house and walked a short distance into the town centre. Bakewell is NOT large but has an inordinate number of bakeries (never guess what they sell the most of! I must admit I was guilty of buying a few…). It was a bit touristy but not that bad as I passed the (yes one) roundabout in the middle of the town and found the market a hive of activity with a LARGE number of stalls spread out over the central car park. I wandered around looking at everything from plants, books, shampoo, carvings to bread, meat and woodworking tools!

One of the Markets in Bakewell

There is a small path that runs through the centre of the town which I walked along. The river is very shallow and throughout the length I could make out fish (fairly large ones at that) just below the surface. The path along the river is lined with stone walls and periodically crossed by small bridges (stone as well). Other than the market, the town was very quiet!

Side Streets in Bakewell

I made my way back to the B & B, stopping at a bakery and a few other stores. I was not really in a hurry to return to the somwhat dull Sheffield. I headed out and managed to briefly visit Chesterfield. Chesterfield is well known for it's leaning-spire church and yet another market! Since this was the equivalent of a local “labour” day holiday there was also a small local parade on when I arrived (funny to see a young lady trying to hide the “Socialist” word on her banner promoting a local political party!). The town is quite small, built on the top of a hill so a fair amount of climbing up and down slanted (but not overly so) streets. The weather was getting to be really good when I had to head back up north for the afternoon's sessions.

Market in Chesterfield

Church with the Leaning Spire in Chesterfield

The afternoon and evening sessions were very good and very well received. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them – watching also tends to relax my mind somewhat so that was also a good thing. I met a few people when queuing for tickets in the afternoon so that was also good.

The Cruicible Theatre

I eventually made my way home at around about 11:00 pm, getting home at about 2 in the morning. A LONG drive. Work the next day was not really that great…But I made it…

I did not visit a large number of areas but I saw a great part of the landscape of the Peak District. I will have to come back to explore the area in more detail in the future. Now, at least, I have an idea of what to expect and a few ideas of places to visit next time.

I stayed at the River Walk B & B operated by Mrs. J. Davies 3 New Lumford, Bakewell DE45 1GH, phone (01629) 812 459. From their card:

  • Bed & Breakfast overlooking river, close to town centre and local tourist attractions, Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall and local walks