Excerpts from 1,200 word article


To the occasional passer-by I suppose we looked a little odd there, sitting on a rock as he talked and I scribbled in a tiny notebook, both of us pausing when a sheep's baa-aa interrupted the interview. Still, it seemed natural enough to us. Where better to discuss Britain's oldest national park with Warden Gordon Miller, than here in its core with a stream trickling by our feet, meadows all around and the sun warming our backs?

Peak District National Park in central England is one of Britain's 11 national parks created to conserve outstanding landscapes. Most of its 542 square miles are owned by farmers and local authorities. Right of way on foot and bridle paths has existed on farmlands for centuries. Now, as with 10 other areas subsequently designated national parks, recreational services and facilities are provided. Here in the Peak District one of the wardens' more important roles is to have an ever- ready rescue service available to climbers and skiiers in trouble. Another is to keep peace between farmers and walkers who allow their dogs to worry the sheep....

Accommodation in and around the park is as varied as the scenery. I stayed at four hotels in twice as many days. It is just as practical to take day trips from a single home base, or to change your address daily. Area attractions include cavern tours, stately homes and wonderful country walks. There is good theatre, as well as many fetes and parades that have been community affairs for centuries. Busy market towns, resorts and sleepy hamlets all coexist where life is at a pace more gentle than most of us have ever known....

The Pennine Way, Britain's longest footpath (285 miles) starts at Edale in the park's centre, and continues beyond the Scottish border. A 25 mile segment is contained within the park. On a warm and sunny Sunday I found Edale busy with hikers of all ages, even seven- or eight-year olds trotting along with their colourful backpacks. Because much of the moorland is peat-covered, the average walker can't expect to cover more than about two miles per hour. Whether your choice is a week long hike, or an hour's stroll followed by lunch in the Jolly Rambler, it is bound to be an enjoyable experience. In Spring forest floors are thick with bluebells and trees are in blossom. June brings magenta rhododendrons the size of balloons against ancient stone cottages and walls. Summer gardens are picture perfect.

IF YOU GO: Centre of the Peak District is about a three-hour drive north of London, leaving via the M1.