If you think climbing the highest mountain would be our peak experience in England and Wales, think again! We are now in Peak District National Park! But first we had to say good-bye to Wales and return to England. We did that by travelling on two buses and four trains, all on one day! Traveling by bus and train has been a breeze, so relaxing, and not one delay or missed connection along the way!
Our first stop was Caernarfon, on the coast of Wales not far from Snowdon. Caernarfon's claim to fame is a very famous castle. Yes, there are plenty of Castles in Britain, but this one is special not only because it was built by Edward I in the 13th Century, but also because it's where Prince Charles became the Prince of Wales, as did his great uncle Edward VIII before him. I clearly remember watching the investiture on TV in 1969, it was a BIG deal! And it happened right there on that round thing, but with a LOT more people watching! Oh, and we can now cross Caernarfon Castle off our long list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit!
We were sorry to leave Wales! We really enjoyed our week listening to Welsh being spoken, trying to pronounce the place names, marveling at all the bi-lingual signs - absolutely everything is bilingual! Take a look at this one......
As you can see, the Welsh have very little regard for the proper positioning of vowels, or even the rule that every word should have one!
Welsh people are extremely friendly and hospitable, even if some of their food is a bit odd....
Luckily we never had to resort to eating those........ there were plenty of good vegetarian choices everywhere we went, even some quite imaginative creations like the squash lasagne in one pub and a spicy bean burger in another! Oh and of course plenty of leeks, the Welsh National Vegetable......... you have to love a country that has its own national vegetable!
Our next stop was the Peak District. In the centre of England, between Manchester and Sheffield is Britain's first National Park, Peak District National Park. When travelling from west to east as we did, you enter the Vale of Edale through a train tunnel over 2 miles, 3.2km, long and come out into another world! You can well imagine Gandalf striding through these hills and Hobbiton around every corner!
We were staying in a very large hostel - good thing too, as there were also 96 grade 8 students from Denmark staying there! Thankfully they were thoughtful enough to put us in a separate cottage.....the downside was that it was up 92 steps from the main building! Trivial after Mt Snowdon you might say, but after a long day those steps were killer!
We only had one day for a hike in the Peak District, so we picked a good one, in fact some English hikers told us it was listed as one of England's best ridge walks! Here it is, Mam Tor to Lose Hill.
The views were spectacular! And despite the wind and some dark skies it never rained!
We even encountered some hungry locals who were NOT sheep, for a change!
Looking across from our cottage we could see the entire walk, up to and along that skyline!
That's what I love best about hiking here - the wide open spaces without trees! John described it like this: in Canada we hike to get to beautiful destinations, sometimes that means spending long hours slogging through forest. Here the entire hike is a beautiful destination!
We have really enjoyed all our British destinations, and feel especially lucky with the perfect weather we've had! We look forward to exploring more another time. But, for now, it's off to the Balkans and Part Deux of our 2014 adventure! Stay tuned!