ArianeAriane Dean; a sixth from student from the Peak District, a wanna be author and journalist, who will happily write in return for cake, and with very poor taste in cardigans.

So, the exams are finally over. Schools finished, and you can let the textbooks gather dust for a good couple of months. All there is now is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunshine. Except… it’s one week in, the sun has been replaced by a torrential downpour, you’ve seen any movies out that are worth watching, and the parents are being as irritating as ever.

So, how about a holiday? You, a few mates, couple of hours on the train, and voila! I gave you, ladies and gentlemen, the Peak District. With camping, or youth hostels from as little as ten quid a night, and more cafes, restaurants, pubs and takeaways than you can shake a stick at, it makes for the perfect weekend escape. So, where is it? It’s nestled right in the heart of Derbyshire, literally smack bang in the middle of the United Kingdom, so it really couldn’t be easier to get to, especially if you’re meeting up with friends.

It’s Britain’s first National Park, with connections via train, bus, and even airplane. It’s a place of sheer juxtaposition, above all else. Where in London can you spend one minute browsing the high street, and spend the next watching deer graze, without another human being in sight?

But… That sounds dull. I think I’d rather just stay at home and watch a film.

Well, why stay at home and watch a film, when you can do one better and visit the places they were actually filmed? If you like romance, visit Chatsworth, gorgeous location for “Pride and Prejudice”, (Mr Darcy, anyone?). Prefer an action filled war film? Easy, try Derwent Valley, with the infamous “Dam Busters”, and practice place of the original 617 Squadron. Or for fantasy lovers, take a turn around Hardwick Hall, home of the Malfoy family, from Hollywood’s beloved “Harry Potter”. Then go one better, and see the films themselves on huge, outdoor screens in the very places they were filmed.

But… still dull. I’m looking for an adventure!

Nothing easier my friend, just take your pick. If you’re feeling in the need of an adrenaline rush, look into Alton Towers, the famous theme park. If you want to learn a new hobby, or skill, then get stuck in at Carsington Water, and try your hand at rock climbing, kayaking or windsurfing. And then, just to cool down, get up to some monkey business at Buxton’s Go Ape! Grapple your way through the treetops, along ropes, ladders, and even tunnels! Or maybe you want to strike out on your own, and go exploring, in the miles of forests, valleys, and cliffs.

But… that’s all outside! What if it rains?

Good question, but an easy one. There’s plenty to do inside. There are hundreds of independent shops in Derby and Sheffield, and indoor ice skating, as well as tons of art galleries and museums, if you’re feeling cultural. But what if you still want to explore? How about visiting one of the Peaks many wonderful show caves? With regular tours, there’s Buxton beautiful Poole’s Cavern (described as the first wonder of the Peak), or Castleton, with Treak Cavern (the world’s only mining spot of the Blue John stone), Speedwell Cavern (where tours are taken down in boats), and The Devils Arse Cavern (you heard me).

But…I just want to relax and unwind; nothing too hard-core.

Fair enough, where better to let go of exam stress than one of the quietest areas in England? Do what the Peak is famous for, and take a hike across the hills, moors and rolling fields, where the only thing you have to worry about is which tea shop to visit next. Or if you fancy a pamper, try Brampton Manor salon and spa, for a massage, yoga class, or just a dip in the pool.

But… I’m more of a night bird; I bet there isn’t anything to do in the evening.

Oh my friend, you are in for a treat. There’s always something going after dusk, whatever your tastes. There are music festivals like Y-not? and Tramlines, or Buxton Fringe, featuring evenings of drama, dance, music and live comedy. Buxton and Sheffield hold a wide range of clubs, and virtually every village has at least one pub. Or, if you just want to get out and about, visit Matlock Bath illuminations – where bridges, boats and buildings are lit up for all to see.


Ariane Dean



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