Hope

With Ciaron away in France, I grabbed the opportunity to sneak a solo van trip in. I’d originally planned to be away for a week, but sudden work commitments meant that I had only a few days. I’d never been away in the van on my own, so I decided to go somewhere familiar. Plus, I didn’t fancy driving too far, as I wouldn’t have my usual partner in crime to share the driving with.

I decided to go to Laneside Caravan Park, somewhere we first visited in April this year. I was keen to do some more road biking in the area, and maybe check out a few of the local tourist attractions.

What I hadn’t thought of, was how I would get my bike onto the bike rack. Attaching the bike to the rack itself is easy enough, the challenge was reaching it! Not such a simple task for the vertically challenged. Well, out came the trusty Ikea step, a bit bulky, but problem solved.

The riding

In the end, the weather put paid to any road biking I had in mind. I don’t mind wet weather so much, but when it’s also really windy, I’m not interested. I decided to take a hike instead. If you want to read about a bit of road biking we did in the area, take a look at our previous post.

The area

Aside from the great road biking in the area, Hope is well positioned for loads of other outdoor activities. You can access some fantastic mountain biking, hiking, and climbing, all in the stunning setting of the Dark Peak.

Cave Dale
Cave Dale

I chose to walk 2 miles over to Castleton, and then hike up through Cave Dale. This dramatic limestone valley is found unexpectedly through a narrow gap between quaint stone cottages. The valley rears up quite dramatically either side of you, as you pass under the watchful gaze of the Peveril Castle ruins.

Due to the heavy rainfall, the rocky path up through the valley was treacherously slippery. I was much relieved when there was a break in the rain. I could finally stop to munch on a pork pie in relative comfort.

The pork pie, gone in sixty seconds
The pork pie, gone in sixty seconds

In addition, there are plenty of local tourist attractions. I paid a visit to the aforementioned Peveril Castle ruins. The walk up to it is wickedly steep, although there are strategically placed benches, should you need some respite. There’s plenty of interesting information about the castle to be found, and a decent bit of it is still intact to have nosy at.

Looking down into Cave Dale from the Peveril Castle ruins
Looking down into Cave Dale from the Peveril Castle ruins

I also took the opportunity to take the subterranean boat ride through Speedwell Cavern, an 18th century lead mine found near the foot of Winnat’s Pass. (Incidentally, this pass this is an absolute brute of a road climb, but worth it for the views.) If you’re claustrophobic, don’t bother. I couldn’t help but feel for the miners who were subjected to these dark, cramped working conditions.

Fast forward to October…

The solo trip above was taken in September, and I thought it was worth adding to this post, that we visited this area yet again in October. This time, we spent a fantastic weekend here with Ciaron’s parents. ‘Why is this worth mentioning?’ I hear you ask. Well, because this time, we actually managed to sample some of the local pubs!

We stopped for lunch at the Nag’s Head in Castleton, and I’d thoroughly recommend it. Large, hearty plates that didn’t cost the earth. We also had dinner at the Old Hall Hotel, a short walk from the campsite in Hope. It was so good, we returned for breakfast the next morning. Hot brekkies all round, which went down an absolute treat. Again, delicious, healthy-sized portions, and not too painful on the pocket.

Thoughts on the trip

I think the fact we’ve visited the same campsite three times in the space of six months, is testament to what a lovely little site Laneside Caravan Park is. It’s really handy for us distance-wise, but I still feel away from it all. If you enjoy the outdoors, you can’t go wrong in this little corner of the Peaks, and Hope is a great base from which to explore.

Handsome Hansel, pitched next to Ciaron's parents' motorhome, Molly
Handsome Hansel, pitched next to Ciaron’s parents’ motorhome, Molly

One thing we learned, is where the van’s towing eye is! We were completely clueless at the time, but thankfully, a bunch of random blokes kindly came to our rescue and pushed us out of the mud. I’m sure there was a lot of tut tutting at the daft ‘city folk’ in their new van, and quite right too!

With regards to my solo outing, I’ve been asked whether I felt safe camping on my own. In short, yes I absolutely did. I think I would’ve been more wary if it was a new site in a new area, but I would never let that hold me back. Perhaps it also helps that I’m happy in my own company! Well, someone has to be 🙂

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