Today I’ve realised that until right now, I’ve been existing in a state of miserable ignorance about how beautiful the Peak District is, and how much there is to do on a visit. Maybe it was the residue of crisp white snow, but parts of rural Derbyshire felt almost Alpine on the drive up from London. Matlock was a startling sight as I peered at the main street: packed with Easter holiday-makers, there were more fish ‘n’ chip joints and candy stores than you’d reasonably expect at most British seaside resorts, let alone in a slightly remote country location in these beautiful hills.
Once meandering through the village of Rowsley, The Peacock pops into view next to its fishing river, sun sparkling on the surface.
Rowsley’s charms include Caudwell’s Mill, which is now an artisan complex. There’s a delightfully pushy duck gang operating around the entrance to the Mill, occasioning a bit of murmuring about crispy pancakes and hoisin sauce on my part as I darted to get out of their way. The mill has a pretty craft shop crammed with stock, where I couldn’t resist buying a birdhouse and fairy toadstool cottage as gifts. Beneath its cute current incarnation it speaks of this area’s compelling role in the Industrial Revolution, and there’s a ring of authenticity to the multitudes of mill relics, factories, miner’s cottages and other signs of the cataclysmic advance in production that happened in the Derwent Valley.