The day started with the usual sturdy breakfast at the Hilton with my friend Glyn Blythman, some farewells with friends setting off for home, and then a trip in Glyn’s car to Birmingham airport to pick up my rental car. This airport is the first one I’ve encountered with no free drop off – you pay £3 to go to a nearby siding. We both hastily hugged goodbye and I rattled inside to the Europcar booth.
At the booth I went through the lengthy ritual of declining insurance (my travel insurance covers the car) declining the upgrade for xxxx£ – and finally, (confronted with a bill twice the amount quoted on my online booking,) declined the GPS navigator in favour of using my trusty iphone app. At last I left with the keys to a compact diesel manual shift car, and walked the 10 mins to the rental carpark.
It took a while to adjust seat, work out how to start the car without an actual key, and set up my phone. Nevertheless, the audible directions did not come on, so with beady eyes darting from screen to road I managed the hair-raising trip away from airport to the M1 and beyond. After half an hour I pulled in to a service area and prised my fingers from the wheel.
Here I had a healthy lunch of salads and a coffee.
An hour later I pulled back on to the motorway and headed towards the Peak district. My GPS was set to a town in heart of it called Bakewell, and no small amount of the incentive for choosing this target lay with my memory of a bakewell tart.
I glided off the motorway and in to leafy forest and a slight rise in ground which steadily increased. It was lovely. To my surprise Bakewell is a large market town in the heart of the Peak scenic area. The carpark was busy – I later found that Monday is market day – and I paid for parking and set off into town over a bridge covered in locks and keys, as in Paris.
Before long I’d found Bakewell Bakery and a table in the patio. I asked for tea and a scone and enjoyed a very pleasant break swatting at wasps but biting down into clotted cream. I am not sure why UK scones are always hard, crumbly and cold – but the cream goes a long way to make up for that.
Once back on the road I was thrilled when my now audible voice on Apple maps (I changed from Google) led me on a tiny winding path towards Sheffield through the beautiful hills and dales of this area. I could hear the strains of the music from Pride and Prejudice when Keira Knightley stood on a rocky tor and gazed into the valley beyond.
And wait! Was that a Highland coo and calf?!!
At its peak the heights were covered in purple heather and rocky outcrops and for a moment transported me straight to the Highlands.
Tomorrow I hope to investigate these places more closely.
I drove down into the suburbs and found the ivy covered house where I’ll be staying two nights. It is all very salubrious here with a large bedroom, kitchen nook and shared spacious bathroom. I met both my hosts and their two dogs and had a brief lie down.
At 6.45 I walked 6 minutes away to the corner pub ‘The Loxley’ where I gave my order to a disinterested blonde bar maid.
Trying to stick to the healthy option I ordered a Mediterranean chicken salad but received the chicken and bacon one instead.
It was very nice. All would have gone swimmingly for my figure if I hadn’t ordered the Eton’s Mess, which fortunately is blurred so you can’t see how bad it was. I ate it all.
I have now returned to my room to watch some Netflix.