Had you asked me a year ago, the word “staycation” would have left a very disappointing and bitter taste in my mouth. I would have stammered: “But… but… The world is your oyster!”
And indeed, the world has been my oyster. I recently returned from gallivanting around South East Asia for five months, discovering new cultures, trying lots of delicious new food and meeting people from all over the world. So you can imagine the itchy feet and irritability I had when my friends and I, who normally go and explore somewhere lovely and warm in Europe, were deciding whether or not to risk hopping across the Channel to mainland Europe, in case it meant a spur-of-the-moment race back to the British border, which seems to be the norm these days. In the end we decided on a staycation in the Peak District, because it looked beautiful, quaint and not too far away. It had been 13 years since I last took part in a Great British Staycation, but it was either this or nowhere at all.
So, we packed our walking boots, cagoules and made a playlist jam-packed full of the girliest and most offensive tunes from the likes of Mr Worldwide/Mr 305/Pitbull, JT, Doja Cat, Cardi B (WAP anyone?) and Beyonce for the three and a half hour drive up to the Peaks.
What we wanted from our holiday was fresh air; beautiful scenery; long walks and lots of wine. In that order. It was a wishlist decidedly different from our last holiday to Mallorca.
Arriving in Baslow, a little village with a population of only 1, 178 located in the Derbyshire Dales, we were delighted to see that the Peak District was everything we had hoped. The undulating green fields, the dramatic peaks with their vertiginous cliffs and jagged and jutting rocks and gorgeous little cottages all came together in a beautiful postcard-worthy landscape. The type of place that makes you want to ‘frolick’ and gallop, grinning like an idiot, into the meadow.
We stayed in an idyllic Airbnb, perched above a little Cafe on the Green. We filled the fridge with wine, gin and cheese from the local Aldi and we each had our own bed to starfish in.
Our itinerary would have made Steve Backshall proud, we maundered around Chatsworth Park and cute little village, Edensor, climbed the highest peak – Kinder Scout, walked the ‘Shivering Mountain’ ridge walk – Mam Tor and scrambled up the side of a waterfall to reach the famous Trinnacle rock formation.
On the weekend our friends’ faces turned to us, eagerly anticipating some juicy gossip, which they had come to expect from us. They were bitterly disappointed and slightly suspicious of us. “I feel like you are holding something back from us,” said one friend. We weren’t. I am sorry to disappoint but it was a very wholesome, bucolic holiday, where we did some lovely hikes, read maps, made dinner together in the evenings and drank G&Ts and played games. The closest we came to a drama was one of our group falling down the stairs in the morning because she was clumsy – not because she was drunk.
We came away from the holiday with a feeling that the UK has so much more to offer us than we previously thought and we are also convinced that we do live in a beautiful place that we do not appreciate enough. We have returned with plans to map out some country walks around Kent, which will end with a hearty dinner and pint at a good ol’ British pub.
So, all-in-all, a British staycation can be great and I won’t be so quick to write off a staycation in the future as there are plenty of places that I want to see. Make use of this time, as now is the time to see Britain when you can’t really go abroad.
On my wishlist for future staycations are a roadtrip around the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall and the Lake District.
And even when Coronavirus is brought under control and travel restrictions lift, will the first holiday I take be a staycation? I hear you ask. Well, I can’t make that promise.