A little over two weeks ago I headed north for a three-day weekend with The Silent Eye, to be spent exploring Neolithic sites and ancient monuments in the Peak District. I travelled alone, meeting most of the group for the first time. And it was… intense. A heady mix of good company, wonderful scenery, and powerful landscapes. I had some interesting experiences – whether they can be ascribed to an over-active imagination, or something else, is unclear. It’s going to take me a few blog posts to write the story of the weekend, and I’ll try to explain things as best I can…
The adventure started early Friday with a train journey into London, then north to Manchester, where I would catch a regional train into the peak district. This was kind of a big deal for me – it had been a long while since I’d had any time away by myself. As I watched the landscape flash past, secure in my comfortable seat, I felt the demands of daily life lift. I was heading north, to stone circles and mystery, and I couldn’t wait.
The flint walls and fruit trees of the south were far behind me as I headed east from Manchester Piccadilly into the misty hills and green valleys of the Peak District. The views from the small two-carriage train were extraordinary, the landscape changing at every turn. Yet many of my fellow passengers sat with newspapers open or on phones, familiarity making them immune to the beauty around them. I couldn’t get enough, the rising slopes and small villages reminiscent of North Wales, my favourite place on earth.
Upon reaching my destination, the George Hotel in Hathersage, I was delighted to find out that, apart from being a charming and comfortable hotel, The George was also once a favourite haunt of Charlotte Bronte. She visited often while staying at the nearby Hathersage Vicarage, and the village of Hathersage appears in Jane Eyre, the name changed to Morton. The family who owned The George at the time were also called Eyre, and it’s said this is where the name came from. This seemed to bode well. While looking forward to exploring during the weekend, I also had brought a rough draft of a Gothic short story with me, hoping to complete it in time to submit to a competition that coming week. Surely staying in the same place that had once hosted a Bronte sister would be great for inspiration.
After checking in, I wandered down to the lobby. I had a couple of hours to spare, so, being starving, I ordered a late lunch. While waiting for my food I noticed a library set into an angle of the building and went to take a closer look. I love libraries and this one, although tiny, was perfectly formed. So I took a few photos, then sat down to enjoy my meal. Once finished, I headed back to my room, packed my backpack and donned hiking boots and a waterproof jacket. It was almost time. Two of the companions were coming to collect me – we were to meet the others at the Fox House, then head to Carl Wark, the first of several sites we were to explore that weekend.
The companions arrived, prompt to the minute, and there were hugs all around before we got in the car and headed up into the hills. As the landscape fell away the views became more spectacular, and I couldn’t wait to explore, deeper and further into the green. Upon reaching the Fox House, a sprawling old pub built of local grey stone, I met the rest of the companions – once again there were hugs, and I immediately felt welcomed as part of the group. Sue was there, and it was lovely to see her again, but Stuart was missing – apparently under the weather. Or so it seemed…
To be continued.