Peak District Contrasts

 In Derbyshire walks

I suddenly realised why I am so entranced by the Peak District. It’s that constant contrast between safety and danger, between bleak and attractive, between rock and flower. Unlike Scotland and, to a lesser degree, Wales, these contrasts happen quickly. In Scotland you can walk all day and see little change of view. The wild is wild, with little or no evidence of human impact. However, in the Peak District, you can, within a mile or two, be on a wild moor and surrounded by rock and peat. For me, that can happen within a couple of miles of home. I can read the paper in the snug and, in little over 30 minutes, be in the wild. Okay, never quite wild because there is a mobile in my pocket. Peak District contrasts add all the flavour to the day.

Wolf’s Pit

When I leave home I am embraced by the village, cosy, friendly. A muddy climb to Bradwell Edge tests the heart and then changes all perspectives. A wild moorland view, fascinating stiles, rocky, ancient tracks. These lead to a mossy corner tucked under a bleak height. Three ways break out of this spot, called wolf’s pit. I am transported back to a wild time, to the constant of a dangerous wild animal. Heading east, heather moorland and a big sky. Then, across Offerton Moor. The contrast here is the missing people, the anonymous. Ancient tombs say they were here but now gone. It’s wild and remote and yet not so far to civilisation. That is, our temporary hold on this, our life. Offerton Moor has a message; all will change.

Peak District Contrasts

I drop to Shatton and cottages and people express safety. The old telephone kiosk is still a link, the telephone replaced by resucitation equipment. The road home turns left, possibly a Roman road. More anonymous people, there but not there, a Latin story. The contrast is now my flagging body, the need to climb and then drop down to home. My new house, warmth and safety, but also the tail end of a litany of contrasts. Those past populations, hard times, wild animals, exposure, peat and rock. The me, well fed, able to take leisure across landscapes that killed people. You don’t get all that in Scotland!

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