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Peak District loves with my folks in England


The second part of my visit to family in England (part one here) was spent in the Peak District, with my folks, sister and her partner. In a short three day, four night visit we enjoyed an 8 mile hike from Edale to Chinley (blog post here), I ran my first fell run at Herod Farm with my sister (more about that in this post!), enjoyed a good ‘ole pub dinner for my 43rd Birthday, visited a cave (Peak Cavern in Castleton) & an old cotton mill, Quarry Bank, – now owned by The National Trust and still in working order and the lovely ‘Chestnut Centre‘, Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park in Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Walking in the Peak District.

Walking in the Peak District.

My dear parents and I drove up from Hampshire on Easter Monday, making a pit stop at fascinating Calke Abbey on the way.

As a brief overview…

‘With peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards, Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate. The house and stables are little restored, with many abandoned areas vividly portraying a period in the 20th century when numerous country houses did not survive to tell their story.

Discover the tales of an eccentric family who amassed a vast collection of hidden treasures…’ (Calke Abbey | National Trust – Overview)

My parents walking up the stair case of Calke Abbey

My parents walking up the stair case of Calke Abbey

The place was a treasure trove. We could have spent days perusing the collections of various artefacts and the library was AMAZING!

I also had rocking horse envy ;)  – (always a child at heart!).

Rocking horse at Calke Abbey

Rocking horse at Calke Abbey

And then there way the mysterious brew house tunnel – a world of little light, twists and turns (flipping freezing!).

Dad walking ahead of us in the brew house tunnel.

Dad walking in the brew house tunnel.

I LOVED visiting National Trust properties whilst in England – if I’d stayed living there I would have loved to have worked for the organisation or been a volunteer guide, but more than that I loved having the one-on-one time with my parents. It has been so, so many years since I’ve had a holiday with my Mum and Dad, discovering together and enjoying being in the moment.

Mum and Dad in the gardens of Quarry Bank Mill

Mum and Dad in the gardens of Quarry Bank Mill

I also loved simply driving the English countryside with my folks. It was so sweet to be sat next to my Mum, in the back of the car, listening to ‘Classic FM’ and enjoying the scenery, whilst Dad did a marvellous job of guiding us along the roads in comfort. I couldn’t stop reaching out to her, holding her hand, leaning my head on her shoulder and taking in how precious the time we had together was.

After our visit to Calke Abbey we arrived in Chinley, where my sister lives in the High Peak of the Peak District, late afternoon. I couldn’t wait to see my sister, Claire, and her partner, Mike. I was so excited to be able to spend a few days with them (even though my sister had signed me up for a fell run on the eve of my 43rd Birthday!).

All set for my first 'fell run' with my sister (Captain of the Penine Ladies Fell Running Club!).

All set for my first ‘fell run’ with my sister (a keen member of the Pennine Fell Runners).

The fell run, at Herod Farm Fell Race, was thankfully a short fell run (5km), but the elevation was impressively challenging (311 metres)! Though I’m used to walking hills (living in Wellington, New Zealand) and chasing around after my three daughters, I’m definitely not up to speed on running the wild, mixed terrain of the Peak District!

I estimated my finish time would be around 45 minutes and was very happy to finish in a time of 45:46; as a comparison.. the winning female crossed the finish line in 26:48! I can run 5km on the flat at that speed, but with that terrain and elevation – WOW – so impressive! Full results are here – obviously my dear sister was running ‘as support’ and graciously encouraged me to cross the finish line a second before her (she would usually have finished amongst the top female runners).

My first fell run in the Peak District.

My first fell run in the Peak District.

It wasn’t the warmest of spring evenings to set out on a run, so my sister has to persuade me to lose some layers with a warm up before we started off – the warm up was up hill (the Peak District runners are a tough lot!). I was suffering a cold (thanks to the long-haul flight from New Zealand) and my sore throat was crying at me for water – which I’d stupidly not thought to bring (it was only 5km after all). Thankfully a very kind chap from the Glossopdale Harriers (who were hosting and running the race) gave me some water, which I thanked him for profusely.  Feeling warmer I lost some layers and mingled around the back of the runners waiting for the start signal. The banter between the different fell running clubs was entertaining and friendly. There was such a great mix of ages running and it was lovely to see the community that my sister is a part of.

My parents and my sister’s partner, Mike, were there to cheer us on, especially on the steep ascents! It really helped to see a smiling face near the top of each climb – and having a camera pointed at us forced the grimaces into a smile (actually I was laughing hysterically most of the way at the craziness of it all and trying not to trip up over grassy tussocks or fall flat on my face in a muddy patch – or worse, a cow pat!).

Trying to keep up with my sister!

Trying to keep up with my sister!

We ran through mud, over lumpy grass (that I’m sure some moles had been busy building under), and boggy peat. I was squealing as I tried to keep upright whilst running through all the obstacles (including a stile – something I’m not used to doing at a quick pace!).

Following my sister over a stile.

Following my sister over a stile.

We finished up the last 100 metres on road – which I sprinted – finally feeling certain of what was underfoot! I was very hungry too – my Dad had made me wait till at least 2pm to eat lunch, so that I’d have energy to start the run at 7.30pm and last till dinner (a good curry at my sister’s local Indian). We ended up eating past 9pm – to think only a week before I would have been eating breakfast in New Zealand at that time!

The day of the fell run we had spent visiting the most incredible cotton mill – Quarry Bank Mill – now owned by The National Trust.

Quarry Bank

Quarry Bank

‘Quarry Bank overflows with the atmosphere of the Industrial Revolution. A visit to the cotton mill, built in 1784, and powered by Europe’s most powerful working waterwheel, will certainly stimulate your senses.

The clattering and whirring of our heritage machinery and steam engines make an astonishing noise. Explore the progression of the cotton industry from the mediaeval era through to the 19th century, speak to our knowledgeable demonstrators to find out more.’ (Quarry Bank | National Trust – Overview)

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A scene from history

It was absolutely amazing to visit this place – not just because of its history or the beautiful grounds and gardens, but the fact that it is still a working mill. The staff at the mill had so much knowledge of the history of the mill and the machinery and how to operate it.

“The Mill provides a unique experience. The machine floors attack all the senses, with the smell of oil, grease and cotton. The clattering sounds and sights of the working machines, still processing cotton, bring the history of the people and place alive.” - Clare Brown, Machine Supervisor
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Fine threads of cotton

We also had a fascinating guided tour of the ‘Apprentice House‘;

‘The Apprentice House at Quarry Bank was built by Samuel Greg to house the pauper children who worked at the mill. We’ve reconstructed the Apprentice House so that it resembles as closely as possible how it would have been when the children lived there in the 19th century.

Visitors can take a guided tour with a costumed interpreter and learn about the children’s education, medical treatments, living conditions and diet. ‘

If you live nearby I’d really recommend checking out Quarry Bank – especially over the summer holidays in the UK – as there’s heaps on in 2017, especially with ‘The Worst Children’s Jobs in History at Quarry Bank‘!

There’s also the newly restored glasshouse at Quarry Bank

Newly restored glasshouse at Quarry Bank

Newly restored glasshouse at Quarry Bank

A great place to visit, for all the family, and the gardens are so beautiful.

Spring time

Spring time