Across the Pond

Sara Brannon

(Sara Brannon)

Ten-day. The infamous week with no classes that London Centre students experience every term. Most people go to places like Prague, Rome, Santorini and Barcelona. For the first four days of the break, I went to visit a friend in Paris, which is a pretty normal place to spend ten-day.
Where did I go next? Not Vienna, not Florence, but the Peak District in Derbyshire, England. You might be wondering why I would choose such a place. I’m still wondering the same thing…
Hathersage, a tiny town with nothing but a bakery, a pub and a youth hostel, was my first destination. After a missed connection and a two-hour wait in a train station, I got to the hostel.
I checked in and discovered that my roommates were two women, aged 68 and 70 — wait, I thought this was a youth hostel! The next day, I visited Chatsworth House, a famous estate owned by the Duke of Devonshire.
The bus driver dropped me off at the bottom of a hill, and after a 20-minute hike and a potentially dangerous encounter with some sheep, I reached the house. I spent the whole day exploring the estate.
The house is lovely, but the best part is the garden. There are tons of paths you can take through the woods, and I ended up spending four hours wandering around outside. Despite a two-hour wait for the bus, this was definitely the most enjoyable part of my trip.
Hostel number two was in Edale. When I got to the bus stop, I discovered to my horror that the bus only comes at 7:30, 8:30 and 3:30. It was 12:45.
Unfortunately, it was 40 degrees and there was nothing around except farmland and more sheep, so I sat on my giant suitcase reading my book. This wasn’t so bad, except for the wind, rain and the fact that I was there for three hours.
Finally, after a bumpy bus ride and a hike up a steep driveway with my giant suitcase, I made it to the hostel, where — thankfully — I had my own room and a double bed.
The contrast between wonderful and ridiculously bad circumstances on this trip was remarkable. When I woke up the first morning in Edale, I thought I would open the curtains and take in the gorgeous scenery.
Instead of seeing a beautiful sunrise over the hills, I saw an old man taking a smoke break in the rain. Later that morning, I explored the trails around the hostel and I came across the most beautiful waterfall just as the sun came out.
On the day I left, I had a delicious breakfast, went for a nice walk and then discovered that I had to walk two miles back to the train station because the buses don’t run on Saturdays. Did I mention that the transportation in the Peak District isn’t exactly stellar?
Now that I’m safely back in London, where there is an abundance of excellent public transportation and a total lack of sheep, I’ve had some time to reflect on my break. I could have gone to lie on a beach in Greece or to see operas in Vienna. Why did I choose the Peak District?
I hate to blame Jane Austen, but to be honest, it was all about Mr. Darcy. I was hoping to meet him while wandering on the moors or run into him in the woods during a thunderstorm. The odds weren’t great, but a combination of classic literature and too many Taylor Swift songs convinced me that somehow, I would meet the man of my dreams.
Unfortunately, the closest I got to Mr. Darcy was an old bus driver with several missing teeth. Even though I had to drag my oversized suitcase down the main road for miles, didn’t meet any gorgeous guys and spent far too much time waiting for transportation, I had a good time.
However, if I ever go back to the Peak District, I will be sure to bring a smaller bag, an accurate bus timetable and more realistic expectations about men.