Thursday, 28 February 2013

Country Adventures

I have effectively disappeared the past couple months. I guess it was important because I had to complete my literature review to fulfil some unfortunate degree requirements, a full two months after my advisor-imposed deadline (it was 77 pages long...that doesn't get completed overnight!). After that mind-numbing experience, I earned myself a holiday.

All I asked was for a day trip to the countryside to go for a walk. Richard suggested Buxton, in the Peak District. After a quick Google search, we found a few trails around town and only £10 train tickets. Sold. While on the train, we noticed that the last three or four stops had signs for hiking trails. Buxton, however, did not. We wandered around town a while before realizing we couldn't find any trails, besides city sidewalks. We did see a sign for a park and thought, well, why not? We never did find the park, but we did end up following signs for a campsite out of town. Logically, there had to be a hiking trail there right?

What we found confused's called a public bridleway. There was a gate blocking our entrance to the trail, but it was public right? So off we went up a hill and under a railroad track. Six gates later, after enduring mounting anxiety that we were trespassing, we found what looked like a gate to a driveway where carnival people live. While guns are illegal in England, we did not want to try our luck, so we turned around, back down the hill, cursing our lack of research, promising we would indeed PLAN our next adventure.

When the disappointment truly set in, we came across a woman walking her two dogs. We asked if the trail we gave up on indeed continued. She said that it did, through the sketchy gate, eventually winding its way back into Buxton. The "trail" (if you can call it that) meandered through many farm fields containing sheep, cows, farmers, and one apparently containing a bull (so the sign said at our exit). At every fence or stone wall, there were ladders or stone steps indicating we were still going the right way. Something in me was a little leery about walking on private farmer land, but Richard assured me this was normal and completely legitimate. These are not the kind of hikes I grew up on in Colorado, but I tend to trust anyone in a British accent so we kept on hiking. Turns out he was right, the moment I started believing we were completely lost, we would see another sign pointing a vague direction, which we followed. If there's anything I trust more than a British accent, it's definitely signage.

We didn't only roam through fields. We found a wooded path at one point, even though the sign told us a pathless field was the correct direction, not the path. We came across 2 villages, which were really just a collection of a few houses and farms. We crossed a motorway and railroad track. We found a 4-wheel drive trail that farmers presumably use to check on their sheep. We were pointed down an extremely steep slope that I didn't believe could really be a trail.

Finally, after four and a half hours of hiking, we came up a hill and saw Buxton again. What a relief that my parents wouldn't have to hear that I perished because I didn't google a good hiking trail. After a wander around a beautiful town and a few pints (in a pub that allowed dogs!), we boarded the train back to Manchester. That was plenty of adventure for me, and definitely a hike I'll do again...perhaps a bit more confidently next time!

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