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27 July, Sunday

UNITED KINGDOM | Sunday, 27 July 2008 | Views [197]

Today we decided to have a Sunday drive - years ago, it was The Thing to Do on a Sunday afternoon, so we decided to revive the tradition. We drove from Netherthong to the Peak District, in Derbyshire - home to some of the most incredible views we've ever seen, and a very popular part of the world with hikers.

Our first stop was The Blue John Cavern, where the famous Blue John stone is mined. This area is the only place this particular stone is found and it's name derives from the French Bleu Jaune, or Blue/Yellow which is what the stone can look like. Apparently many years ago, some of the stone was taken to Paris to see if it would sell there but the French weren't interested, although they did give it its name. We joined a guided tour of the cavern, with about thirty other people - far too many for one group, we thought. The problem was, there were several other groups, on various stages of their tour, so we seemed constantly to have to squeeze by as they were making their way out! We all decided that Jenolan Caves won hands down in the stalactite/stalagmite stakes although to be fair, Blue John is still, in the English winter, a working mine and has been for around 300 years.

After leaving the cavern, we headed to Chapel en la Frith, a small village touted as the capital of the Peak District - rather a misnomer I thought! Still, it was quite pretty and we decided to have our lunch there. Our next stop was Castleton, so called because of Peveril Castle, built around the time of the Normans in 1066, but which is now a ruin. It was a lovely little town to walk around, with lots of gift shops and several picturesque pubs. There were hikers everywhere, some on their way to a hike, some on their way back from one and all looking very energetic. Ron took lots of photos and we ended up having a cuppa on the grass - for once we actually used the Thermos and cups we had bought weeks ago.

Our journey home took us through some very narrow, typically English country lanes - a bit nerve-wracking in places but Ron has become used to them by now! The weather today was really good - sunshine for a change (although it was very cold in the cavern).

Tomorrow we're off to York - to see the Minster and the Shambles.

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