Europe, Travels

Staycation: A Long Weekend in the Peak District

The Peak District – a place I never really ever bothered to explore until recently, thanks to the pandemic.

Last weekend, after being confined to my room for 3+ months, and with the lockdown restrictions finally easing for Airbnbs and holiday hires in England, I ventured up to north with a few friends for a self-drive long weekend away from the city life of London.

It was absolutely glorious. The weather was on our side and I’ve never been so happy to see so much greenery, countless sheep, and (for the most part) hardly any humans insight.

If you’ve never considered exploring the natural beauties within the UK and you’re contemplating your options, perhaps this summer is the perfect time to finally tick a few places off your list. And safely, too.

Surprise View, that was indeed surprisingly stunning

How We Got There

Simply put, we drove. Considering the current situation (July 2020), driving seemed the safest and easiest option right now.

Though we did not have our own vehicles in London, there are, luckily, many car hire services available. In case you needed a recommendation, we used Getaround, which is an online car sharing / peer-to-peer carsharing service. It allows drivers to rent cars from private car owners, and owners to rent out their cars for payment. (Not sponsored)

This was our preferred mode of hire, since it worked out to be cheaper than other services. For our long weekend, Friday to Sunday, the total cost for car hire came to £206. Brief calculations included below.

Car hire costs with Getaround:
– £55/day with free mileage of 360 miles
– Additional mileage comes at £0.24 per extra mile

Car hire costs with other services:
– 60 miles/day for free and 0.25/extra mile

For the three days, we drove for about 450 miles in total. Yep, quite a lot, but this includes driving to and from London, and from Sheffield – where we stayed, to the national park and where we started our hikes. So overall it works out to be £68 per day. Decent!

If you want to try this, use the referral code below for £15 off your first hire.

Where We Stayed

In short, we stayed in the city of Sheffield. Yes, I know, why not cute little cottages in the District? Well, this eventually came down how conveniently the Airbnb was placed to access places likes restaurants and bars.

Though many Airbnbs have now resumed service, not everything surrounding rental accommodations are open or can host freely due to social distancing measures. So in the end, staying in the city meant that we were able to access shops and supermarket to prepare food for our hikes, and also to order takeaways after long tiring days outdoors, which actually made for a very budget friendly trip with all the self-catering we did.

Obviously you can totally go for cute country cottages, so don’t let me stop you there with the above! I’m sure I’ll end up being the one jealous of your real country life weekend getaway…

Our Itinerary

Day 1 – Hathersage to Stanage

After setting off from London to drive up to Sheffield, departing at approximately 11:00am and driving for around 4 hours, with a 45 min pitstop halfway up for fried chicken, we decided to go directly to the District to begin our Day 1 hike.

The Trail

Windy, but sunny and loving my newly found freedom

The Peak District National Park is a vast piece of land with many trails to explore. Since we were staying in Sheffield, we chose to begin our adventures with the famous trail starting from Hathersage to Stanage Edge, parking our car at Surprise View Car Park, which is slightly different to the link I’ve added here.

Based on my research, this trail is graded at a level 4 out of 5 for difficulty – think medium intensity cardio workout that goes on for around 3 hours or so. It involved quite a bit of up and down through rock cliffs, miles and miles of soft grassy land that occasionally becomes muddy, and various long stretches of going up and downhill. That said, it was perfect for our first day, as we arrived on a full-belly of KFC and pumped with months of quarantine energy.

Overlooking the fields at Stanage Edge
Puddles of reflection at the top of Stanage Edge

When we eventually reached Stanage Edge, approximately 2 hours later with various stops for photos and map reading, it was around 7pm and just about golden hour for British Summer. The colours of the fields and the sky were stunning, and despite always thinking exploring the UK was a bit lame in comparison to travelling around Europe, that feeling of freedom was awesome after a treacherous 2020 so far and I was very much relishing every moment.

In case you were interested, this trail, to and from, came to around 20k steps. On our way back, we took various shortcuts, cutting through fields and descending down paths to save time.

Considering this took us approximately 3 hours to complete, I can vouch that this is definitely not an easy hike, though very much worth it for the views.

Day 2 – Ladybower Reservoir & Bamford Edge

Cliff-top views over Bamford Edge

With Day 1’s hike a complete success in every way, we were ready to get onto our full day hike. Having fed ourselves on a big breakfast, we set out to begin Day 2.

The Trail

We began our trail heading east, ascending one of the many rock cliffs of the area. I soon realised that the reason these were all called “Edges” was due to the geography of this area being predominately made up of rocky landscapes, that offer stunning views when reaching the top. The name “the Peak District” also suddenly made lots of sense.

The sprawling landscape of Derbyshire

That day, with the sweeping clouds and ever-changing weather of the UK, we experienced gale winds as well balmy sunshine. We trekked through miles and miles of fern, wet and soggy grass and lots of slippery puddles. The landscape of this place is amazing, though, and even on a cloudy day, it was stunning to see the sprawling land and paths that lie ahead.

Eventually, around 3 hours after setting off, we reached the top of an anonymous peak overlooking the Ladybower Reservoir.

Lunching from the top, overlooking the Ladybower Reservoir

From this point, it was possible to keep going straight and continue straight to Bamford Edge, or descend and visit the Reservoir up close. We mistakenly took the path descending to reservoir level, and ended up ascending again from the main road.

Hiking somewhere like the Peak District means if you’re heading to somewhere that’s well-known, you’re likely to be amongst fellow hikers. You can simply find your way asking around without reading too closely at a map.

Living on the (Bamford) edge, literally

Though the cliffs may look jagged, the ascent was relatively easy as the path was well trodden. Once at the top, the skies cleared and we were blessed with beautiful views overlooking the cute town of Bamford.

Proceeding forward from this spot is another view over the reservoir, but we were more interested in sitting on this one particular rock face. This rock that appears to dangle high over the land below, where in actual fact, it was only around 5m over the grass below. Perspective makes this a lot more impressive than it actually was in reality, but it makes a great shot on your Instagram feeds!

Anyway, after descending backdown from Bamford Edge, we headed back to the carpark. In the end, Day 2 was a loop that worked really well for us, and our final step count for the day came to 20k once again. Same as the day before, but completely at a much more leisurely pace than previous.

Country feels – cute herds of sheep everywhere

Day 3 – Chatsworth House

After packing and checking out of our Airbnb, we departed Sheffield city centre and began our way back.

In the midst of the huge acres of land within the Peak District lies a grand mansion called Chatsworth House. This is where the filming of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice took place. This was also our final stop before driving all the way home back to London.

At the time of our visit, we didn’t get to go inside the house, as only the Garden was open to the public, due to social distancing measures, so we were only able to visit a small portion of this huge estate. That said, the grounds were beautiful and I do love the classic English architecture.

And this seems the perfect place to end my blog on our long weekend staycation in the Peak District. Without sounding like a broken record, this was the weekend that I needed and loved. It has inspired me to look for more places to explore within the UK, and I hope you have been inspired too!

Until next time…

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