It’s been a long, hard winter, and it’s not over yet. Severe at times, though only in parts of Britain unlike two years ago when the country was snow bound. It’s snowing again now. The problem for me is the perpetual gloom. Cold is something you cope with, snow can be fun, but no sunlight drains and depresses me like a vitamin loss. Britain is not a sunny place to start with. Winter is worse, and so is the north of England even before you reach the darkness of Scotland. This is the view from my kitchen window:
About ten days ago the morning was bright and beautiful. Blues skies – check. Sunshine – check. A wonderful break in the gloom. So I decided on a trip out to Edale which only needs a drive of about forty five minutes and you’re in the heart of the Peak District. Specifically, a lovely peaceful valley where you are shielded from big roads and all nearby towns. If you walk up Mam Tor you see distant factories, evidence of cement works and quarrying. If you get up onto the moors above Edale you have distant views back to the horrors of Manchester. But the valley is a remarkably quiet, protected, pretty little place unlike anywhere else I know. The Lake District, Wales and Scotland have their attractive valleys, but with different features and character. I’m interested in psychogeography which is normally associated with cities. But the same applies with the countryside: we have different feelings and moods according to the qualities of the terrain.
Edale feels a very gentle place. In summer sheep roam green fields and tractors plough them. There’s a youth hostel the in the valley, a camp site, and various accommodation options although I’ve never used them so can’t comment. Coming from Manchester for a day trip there’s a great sense of escape, calm, and peace: because it’s not a dramatic place, but an area where you find a long sloping ridge (leading to Mam Tor) on one side and steeper but still gentle slopes the other side.
There’s no rough stuff as you find in the mountains. The moors leading to Kinder Scout have their own roughness but regarding bog, peat and tricky navigation as opposed to rock. Edale is soft. That’s how it feels to me, and this is how I explain it.
From Manchester you drive to Stockport, Hazel Grove, Disley, reach an area called the High Peak and then the Peak District. You drive up a steep road like a lip in a basin, and down the other side into the valley. I still enjoyed my trip, as you see in this video, looking around for interesting features to film. It was however extremely windy, rainy, snowy, and at times there was hail.