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'Today, I'm on a journey across the Peak District -
'a journey which will take me up rock faces...'
-You've definitely got the ropes, haven't you?
-Definitely got you!
'And swooping over this beautiful upland.'
That's so cool!
I start at the Heights Of Abraham,
travel through the villages of Cromford, Tissington and Milldale,
then take on a notorious climb at The Roaches.
I'll end up by taking that jump off the mountainside,
at Shining Tor.
Along the way, we'll bring you the very best of the BBC's
rural programmes from this part of the country.
Welcome to Country Tracks.
The Peak District National Park was established in 1951,
becoming Britain's first national park.
It's an incredibly beautiful area,
attracting tourists from across the world.
But that's not the only industry here. Manufacturing, farming
and quarrying all help to keep the local economy alive.
At 1,000 feet above sea level, towering above Matlock Bath,
the Heights Of Abraham offer spectacular views across the Peak District.
Two caves here are features of the heights -
part natural and part lead mines.
One's thought to be the oldest mine in the Peak District,
once worked by the Romans.
It contains several large chambers, a spring,
and even some 16th-century graffiti.
The Heights is one of the most popular tourist destinations
in Derbyshire, and I'm here to meet the owner, Andrew Pugh.
Andrew, how are you? Good to see you. What a fantastic view from up here.
-What's the castle that I can see?
That's Riber Castle, built by John Smedley.
He was one of the tycoons of the day - he introduced the hydros to Matlock
Wow. So there's a huge sort of rich heritage in this whole area.
When did you actually put in this cable car?
This cable car will be 25 years old this year.
And how many people have you had on your cable car since it opened?
Ooh, I'm guessing, but must be 10 million.
-Really, that many?
The Heights Of Abraham itself is probably the oldest tourist
attraction in Derbyshire,
opened in 1780, but of course, traditionally, people walked up the Heights.
They came up to discover the dramatic views,
and also to take conducted tours of the caves.
So tourism's always been pretty important in this area of the Peak District as a whole,
but going back, there was obviously lots of other important industries -
-textile manufacturing, farming...?
-Well, yes, of course -
Arkwright, in fact, built the first mill. And so the industrial revolution
started here, on the Derwent.
And how long have tourists been coming to this area? When was the tourist industry born.
The tourist industry grew up because lead mining,
which was the main source of the economy,
that fell into decline, the lead was exhausted.
And in late 1600s,
people discovered the baths.
And then the whole movement
grew up of coming to take the waters of Matlock Bath.
The guidebooks of the day referred to the quality who came to take the waters.
That was because, of course -
the wars in Europe - people couldn't take the grand tours.
And Matlock Bath itself developed as a tourist resort,
then of course it moved on,
the wars ended, people went to Europe,
and then we had to discover mass tourism.
1847, the railway arrived,
and everybody came from the industrial towns.
-Therefore, tourism was reborn here.
-Reborn, and it's gone on ever since.
Was there a rivalry between the different tourist attractions, then and now?
Oh, yes. Umm...in the 1800s, the Heights was battling with High Tor -
you see on the other side of the valley, that was a tourist attraction.
Every little nook and cranny was opened as a cavern,
but it was the Heights who had the major caves,
and of course the Heights is the sole survivor of that era.
And how important is tourism to this area today?
25,000 people work in tourism throughout the county -
it's very important.
And this part of the world is also pretty rich in tradition
and heritage - there's all sorts of things, aren't there?
Oh, many things go on in the different villages throughout,
and in Matlock Bath here in particular, we have, for instance,
crazy things like on Boxing Day,
every year we have the raft race down the valley,
and then in October every year, we have the illuminations
where individual floats are developed
very secretly - there are a dozen of them,
and people make them secretly in their garages,
and they come out and they compete to be the best float of the illumination season.
I imagine it goes without saying that the people of Derbyshire,
of the Peak District, are incredibly proud of their environment and traditions?
Absolutely. And I think we've been fortunate that...
the landscape which we all inherited, we care for.
It really is spectacular views from here,
but slightly closer to the ground, Adam Henson came here
several years ago, when he entered Michaela into a hen race, in Bonsall.
The small villages of this part of Derbyshire have always been quiet,
out-of-the-way places. It's what gives them their charm.
In days gone by, the villagers - they had to make their own entertainment.
Behind these walls, a local tradition grew...
..And what once used to happen between friends and neighbours
has now gone public.
Forget the gee-gees - this is how they get their kicks round here.
When I was a boy, I'd heard that hen racing went on.
I always thought we'd make it public,
we did it in the back garden, then I found out that farmers were doing it
and people round here were doing it,
and then 10 years ago we thought we would do it.
I built the track, I've got helpers, really good supporters,
we have common sense rules which are to do with making sure there's no
cruelty whatsoever. No dogs in the car park,
any hens which start hen-pecking are removed straight away -
little things like that - no cockerels.
-Do they take it quite seriously then?
-Yeah, the people that breed hens,
really enthusiastic - they want to not only continue these breeds,
but make sure they can try and win this race.
To end up with the fastest chicken in the world!
Rick has been training hens for years.
He really enthuses about coming and trying to win the event.
It's my favourite afternoon of the whole year - Christmas included.
In '98, we actually came with a chicken, Vindaloo, which won the championship -
the first time the trophy actually went outside Bonsall.
We've got Sam, who's a really keen chicken breeder. Has a wonderful spot up on the hill.
This is my hen, and I think it's going to be my best in the race.
How many chickens have you got?
I've got 34 but I'm entering three.
I've been training twice a day for the last 2 months,
but I've been training once a week for the last year.
Then we've got Jane, who has come from Nottingham,
she's a relative newcomer.
I've been to two events before, but I've never had my own chicken.
I have actually just rented the chicken for the day,
so...although I'd like to say that I've trained it, I haven't.
-And what's her name?
'Well, I've picked my winner.
'Back on the farm, we've been in some serious training.
MUSIC: "Rocky Theme"
Getting a bit way laid by things, not thinking about things properly.
You seem to be thinking about your stomach all the time.
I don't want a kiss now.
Well, these are my two hens, named after Countryfile presenters -
Charlotte and Michaela. Pretty good hens, I've been doing some work
with them at home. Have you got any tips?
Well, they're excellent hens. Provided you've been feeding them
at a distance of 35 feet at 2 o'clock every day,
to a certain food - tomato or corn - to a sound as well,
chances are you will win the race.
Time will tell, as the whole village turns out to watch
the World Hen Racing Championships.
Races are won in heats, and open to all comers.
'They're on the starting blocks...
'off they go!
'Some made a good start.'
'This one's found something nice to eat.
'Ooh! There goes one. She's making a run for the line.
'Oh dear, this one's very confused.
'Oh, yes - these ones don't really know what's going on at all!
'The final sprint!'
'This is Michaela's heat.
'I've recruited some help to get her started.
'She gets away well.'
Come on! She's in the lead.
'But suddenly, it's all changed.
'She's gone backwards, and oh, no...'
My chicken nearly started fighting.
Michaela's always a bit feisty.
'We're back in front now.
'But no, we've been overtaken.'
We were pipped at the post - congratulations!
Well, it's all down to Charlotte now.
There's little Lottie - she's going to be a winner!
'Oh, dear! Bit of a late start!
'I'm sure you can hear the corn.' Oh, you lazy chicken!
'Here she comes, she's making a race for it!
'Come on, Charlotte - she's on the left there - there she goes!
'Running for the corn shaking! Go on!
'Go on, Charlotte! Come on, come on!
'She's got to get both feet over that line.
'Come on, chicken!
'You know you can do it. Come on.
'Just one more foot!'
She went over the line! Over the line! Yes!
What a great girl. A winner!
We're in the final now.
Oh, bless her.
'The final line up. Can the Countryfile chicken do it again?
'We're on the left this time.
'Not a very good start.
'Oh dear. I think she's going the wrong way.
'Look at that chicken go! Come on, Charlotte - where are you?'
Oh, she's going the wrong way!
'What happened there, Charlotte? You let me down.
'My helpers are very disappointed.
'Back to the chicken coop for you.'
Well done. Thanks a lot.
Congratulations - you did pretty well!
We had a second and third in the final, and a great afternoon.
Which is what it's about! Are you converted to hen racing?
Well, maybe. We got in the final, so... you know,
my hopes were high, but we failed, I'm afraid.
But a bit more training, and we might come back next year
-with better hens.
-You took it seriously, didn't you?
The chicken was very fast when I tried to catch it at the end,
but it didn't do too well in the race.
It actually ran backwards and tried to get out from the netting.
But I hadn't trained it, so what do you expect?
-It was a bit nervous.
-Are you coming back next year?
'And, as the village winds down,
'how did our local lad Sam get on?'
I didn't do very well myself, but this is my cousin, and she won.
-With one of your chickens?
Oh, that was generous of you, giving her that one!
If I'd have known I wouldn't have given it her!
'So the trophy stays in the family.
'And in Bonsall, which will keep the locals happy.'
Leaving the Heights of Abraham, I'm cycling south, to Cromford.
Now, the Peak District has produced more than its fair share
of famous residents. Dame Ellen MacArthur, Vivienne Westwood,
but perhaps its most famous son is the poet and novelist,
Many of Lawrence's works were inspired by and set to the backdrop
of this stunning landscape.
I'm meeting the director of the DH Lawrence research centre,
Dr Sean Matthews, to find out more.
So, where are we now, then?
We're at Mountain Cottage,
which is in Middleton by Wirksworth in Derbyshire,
just inside the Peaks.
This is where DH Lawrence came to live between April of 1918
and April of 1919.
So what brought him here in 1918?
An odd combination of factors. He had been living in Cornwall,
he'd been very excited about living in Cornwall with his German wife.
But he was kicked out of Cornwall by the police, who decided he was
-probably a German spy.
-This is just after the war?
-During the war -
during late 1917 and early 1918.
So he was really in a difficult position and his book The Rainbow
had been banned - it had been burnt in front of the Old Bailey,
so having been at a moment where he thought he was going to be a successful writer -
Sons And Lovers was enormously successful,
his collections of short stories had sold very well -
suddenly he had no income, his books were banned,
he was a controversial figure and he really didn't know what to do.
Fortunately, his sister, Ada, who lives just up the road in Ripley,
was able to find him this cottage at £65 for the year's rent,
and you have to think at that time,
A), that isn't so much money, but also, this was a very remote,
very cold, very small - it was a much smaller cottage in those days -
place to be living. So he came here, really, to work out
what he was going to do.
So is it almost like he's imprisoned in this house?
It is. He comes here and he's very, very reserved,
and very anxious about coming back home to Derbyshire,
it's where he grew up, he grew up in Eastwood, just up the road,
but his relation to Eastwood and his family was difficult.
Once he'd written Sons And Lovers he became famous,
but many people in Eastwood were upset - the representation of his parents and family,
people that they knew, were unfair.
Do you think it's for you? Do you think I'd stop one minute for you?
-My word! And leave those children with you?
Ah! Go, go on!
I should be only too glad.
I should laugh, laugh, my lord, if I could get away from you.
His old girlfriend, of course, was Miriam in Sons And Lovers,
and was very oddly represented and there was a lot of resentment
about the way Lawrence had talked about people he knew and places he knew.
DH Lawrence is now firmly part of Derbyshire's history
and people are very proud of him being a former resident here.
So his life almost went full circle. He went from being ostracised and pilloried for his work
-to being celebrated here.
-That's very true.
Now in Eastwood, which is his birthplace, there's a wonderful birthplace museum,
which I warmly recommend that you visit.
Also, there's a mining heritage museum that shares this...
Because Lawrence, of course, writes very well about that mining community at that historical moment.
So, yes, having been pilloried as the author of the dirty books, now, in Eastwood,
there's a recognition that he's a very important representative of the town.
People, I think,
do recognise that, commercially, he brings people to Eastwood.
He puts Eastwood and Broxtowe on the map. There's acknowledgement of that across the region.
Continuing my journey, I'm now heading
to the beautiful village of Tissington.
This is Tissington well.
It's served travellers for centuries here,
and it's something the local people love to celebrate,
as John Craven found out back in 1999.
Tissington is one of the loveliest villages in Derbyshire.
It's got a population of about 150. And they've just been celebrating,
in a very colourful way, Tissington's most unusual feature.
They've got no less than six wells -
this is just one of them - which for centuries have provided
the people here with safe water. And even though there's now a mains supply,
every year, on Ascension Day, the villagers continue the old tradition
of giving thanks for their wells
by transforming them, like this.
The wells of Tissington have always kept flowing,
even in times of great drought, and stayed pure when there were epidemics of waterborne diseases,
so the tradition started of paying tribute to the wells,
first with simple garlands of flowers.
In Victorian times, the custom became much grander,
using wooden boards coated with clay
into which flower petals were pressed to create tableaus.
And that's what continues today.
Designs are drawn on wallpaper - they're different every year -
-and the outline is transferred by pricking into the clay.
-You've got the legs to do.
That's it. It's coming up.
Rhubarb seeds are a popular choice for backgrounds.
Every inch of the boards are covered in natural materials,
with seasonal flowers like bluebells and wild hyacinths
being joined by things such as parsley and coffee beans.
It's a job for all generations as the six different teams -
one for each well - create their displays,
all of them, by tradition, based on familiar Bible stories.
Though it all needs skill and delicacy,
The well-dressers are working to a deadline.
We've got to get it all finished by 4 o'clock this afternoon.
The end result makes it worthwhile.
People come back year after year to work in the same teams,
people like Helen and her mother, Ann.
It's a real challenge, this is,
to make the picture come to life, cos we're working flat,
and it's not until the board's reared up
that you really get the depth of the thing.
How do you create that mosaic effect on the faces?
Oh, we've used...
-Would you like to say, Helen?
-We've used a different colour of coffee beans.
You can see the paler ones go across a cheekbone
and the darker ones are further away and in the shadow,
just like on the rope here. We've used spruce tips.
I've made it go in a pattern across,
to make it look as though the fabric drapes across.
The colour of the sky is sensational. How do you achieve that?
Thanks. I pick up all the different petals,
arrange them into colours and try to make it look as though it's sweeping across a sky,
-to make it look like clouds.
-What flowers are they?
These are all pansies. Lots of pansies,
so nobody's got any pansies around here!
-We've raided all the gardens.
There's an awful effort in all of this, isn't there,
-and it only lasts for a few days?
-It does. It's sad, really.
But it gives a lot of pleasure to people when they see them
in the village, at the wells,
and it's our way of thanksgiving for the abundance of water here.
The magnificent Jacobean mansion Tissington Hall dominates the village
which for centuries has been owned by the Fitzherbert family.
It's always been the estate workers and their families who have decorated the wells,
-but times change and some traditions wane.
-I'm not worried at all
about the future of well-dresses.
I think it's strong... It's going very strong here
and the families that are here are committed to it for the future.
I can see this festival going on for many generations.
The latest generation has its own well to dress,
though this particular tradition started less than 20 years ago.
-Not me. The other one.
-Yeah, the little one. He's got that.
11-year-old Janine Bradley is this year's designer.
Why did you choose Adam and Eve?
Cos Adam and Eve hasn't really been done on the well before
and because Adam and Eve
was the beginning of the world and it's coming up to the year 2000.
Many Derbyshire wells get decorated every year
and the idea is now spreading abroad,
but it's thought that the ones in Tissington were the very first.
Before dusk on the eve of Ascension Day,
the boards are moved from the sheds where they've been decorated.
After all the delicate artistry,
it's time for a bit of manhandling.
Do you think it should go to the left a bit?
I think it's probably about there now. Yeah.
-It's ready for hammering.
This is the first time that you've seen it vertical. What do you reckon?
I'm pleased with that.
-Yeah, it's come to life now.
-I just hope everybody else likes it.
Janine, what do you reckon now you see it standing up straight,
your work of art?
It's very different when it's standing up than it is lying down...
in the shed where we did it.
-Are you pleased with it, though?
Tell me, Adam and Eve, who are they modelled on?
-Are you sure?
BELL RINGS Well, now it's Tissington's big day
and suddenly the tiny village is filled with people,
all here to admire the well-dressings.
The final touches were put to them only hours ago,
and now the highlight of the day is a church procession
to each of the wells, to bless them and give thanks for their water.
Give your blessing to this well.
THEY SING A HYMN
When the petals have wilted in a couple of days' time,
and an estimated 50,000 people have seen the displays,
the boards will come down and the people of Tissington
will start planning for next year.
For the next stage of my journey,
I've hit the trail in the most invigorating of ways.
This really is a beautiful way
of exploring the Peak District National Park.
There are more than 3,500 public rights of way
crisscrossing the park.
This is Bounce. A beautiful horse.
But more than 40 years ago, it wasn't horses like Bounce
that were using these paths, but trains.
The old Buxton to Ashbourne line, which opened in 1899
carried milk from the herds at Tissington and Hartington,
as well as limestone from local quarries.
When the line closed in 1967,
it was decided to turn the disused railway
into a track for recreational purposes.
It reopened in 1971 as the Tissington Trail,
designed for walkers, cyclists and of course, horses.
Just a few miles down this trail is the town of Ashbourne.
It's a pretty wonderful way of getting there, on Bounce, here.
But Ashbourne itself is home to a sport
far less relaxing than horse-riding.
Michaela Strachan visited in 2000 and believe me, it's messy!
The shops are boarded up, the streets are deserted.
You may think this town has been the victim
of a night of rioting and violence.
But you'd be wrong - that doesn't happen till later!
This is Ashbourne in Derbyshire, home to Shrovetide Football,
where they tell me the push and shove is all good-natured...
..And they play the funniest funny old game of them all.
Nestled on the edge of the Peak District, Ashbourne is usually a calm, rural market town.
But it's a town that prides itself on keeping tradition alive.
Shrovetide Football is played on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday every year.
There are two teams of unspecified numbers of people,
sometimes up to 500 a side.
The Up'ards born north of the River Henmore
and the Down'ards born on the south. The goals are three miles apart.
The tradition gives Ashbourne an amazing feeling of history and community.
But for an outsider, it can be pretty baffling.
Most of the crowd are on the pitch,
half the crowd are actually playing and they don't think it's all over
because it's just about to begin!
'It seems to be amazing if you can just get to touch the ball.
'But if you score a goal, there's huge adulation. And at the end of the day,
'the hand-painted ball is yours to keep as a trophy.'
I've got a ball that my granddad got in 1896.
My dad wasn't fortunate enough to get a ball.
I got mine in 1975.
My son is playing today, hoping to get a ball.
And I'm hoping it's gonna be here long enough for my grandson to play.
-I played for 42 years.
-And did you have a good time?
Absolutely marvellous, there's nothing like it.
I was a river player cos I was never nimble on foot.
So I always played in the river and got wet!
-What did it feel like to score a goal?
You dream all your life of it in Ashbourne...
It is, it's something you can't believe will ever happen.
And... I can't explain it, it was absolutely wonderful.
SHOUTING AND CHATTER
Well, it's not a game of two halves
and there are no complicated offside rules.
In fact, there are hardly any rules at all!
Just three very simple ones.
Number one, there's no mechanical assistance for the balls -
which basically means you can't put it in a car or bike.
Number two, if the ball goes missing for more than an hour,
then it is counted as void. And number three,
If a goal is scored before 5pm
then another one is turned out and the whole thing starts again.
'It's a challenge just knowing where the ball is.
'And knowing who's on who's team!'
It's like a big oven.
But it's like someone's squeezing you at the same time.
You know what I mean?
You've got, like, a big rugby squad.
It's like there's about six rugby teams in one go.
'It's a rough and muddy old game
'and physically very demanding...'
Cramped, hot, claustrophobic...
'After 2.5 hours of play, the ball had moved 200 yards up the hill
'but then came back to the car park.
'And then things got really messy...'
Substantial progress has been made,
they've now got the ball into the park. It's come to a standstill now,
they're trying to get it in the river and up to the goal.
But even if they don't score tonight, the whole game starts again tomorrow!
Personally, though, I've had enough mud for one day
and it's getting dark - I'm going home. Bye-bye!
So far, I've travelled from the Heights of Abraham to Cromford,
and then onto the village of Tissington.
Now, I'm heading to the pretty hamlet of Milldale.
In May 1653, this little gem of a book was published.
It's called The Compleat Angler, or,
The Contemplative Man's Recreation.
It's by Izaak Walton and as the name suggests,
it's loosely based around fishing.
Incredibly, this has become
the third biggest-selling book in the English language.
The book tells the story of a wise old angler who meets a young companion.
They decide to travel together through the north of England on a fishing trip,
during which they discuss at length, fish, the universe, and, well, everything!
The two travellers are called Piscator, the wise old angler,
and Viator, his pupil. In the book, they arrive at this very bridge
at Milldale which, in those days, wouldn't have had any walls
and would have been pretty frightening to cross.
In the book, Viator says,
"Why, a mouse can hardly go over it. 'Tis not 12 fingers broad."
Following the phenomenal success of the book,
the bridge previously known as "Milldale", was remained, "Viator Bridge".
But this is much more than a fishing book.
It's got poetry, ruminations on nature,
and it even contains recipes.
And I've got plans for a spot of lunch.
MUSIC: "Tubas In The Moonlight" by Bonzo Dog Band
I'm gonna try cooking one of Piscator's famous recipes for trout.
I should probably mention now that I'm not very good at cooking.
But I'll give it a go!
I feel like I'm venturing back into a bygone era.
In fact, I'm going to be tasting history. This is a 353-year-old recipe.
First of all, we take our pan and according to this,
we add a little vinegar.
There we go. And a little white wine - I like that touch.
In it goes.
Next, we add some rosemary and thyme. A little bit there.
A little bit of that in and a little bit of that.
Next, we add some salt. And some lemon rind.
Do I look like Jamie Oliver yet? Probably not!
And we pop it onto the stove until it comes to the boil.
We'll leave it for a bit. This is, presumably, the boring bit in cooking.
And now, that has finally come to the boil,
so I will take my piece of trout and pop it in there.
Just put that on there and, eh, we leave that to boil for a bit.
Right, well, it looks like that has just about finished.
I'll take that off the stove.
It certainly smells quite nice.
I'll pop that...
Doesn't look too bad. Even if I say so myself!
A little bit lonely on the plate, there.
I'll see what this tastes like.
Not bad. A little bit more Ray Mears than Gordon Ramsay, but very tasty.
What a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
# Tubas in the moonlight
# Will bring my loved-one home... #
'It's always nice to round off a meal with a fine piece of cheese.
'John Craven went to find out what goes into making a local Derbyshire Stilton.'
'The cheese is named after a village in Cambridgeshire but it's never been made there.
'Derbyshire is one of only three counties where it can be produced
'and Hartington is just inside the border.'
-So, what have we got here, then?
-This is the curd, John.
Five hours ago, this was milk.
And now we've separated the milk out into the solids and the liquid.
-This is the curds and the whey in Little Miss Muffet!
And how have you got it so solid so quickly?
Erm, we use natural things. We use bacteria and enzymes called rennet.
-And that separates the milk out.
-And what happens to the curd
when you've got rid of all this watery waste?
We'll cut it up into smaller pieces and then we'll put it into
some plastic cylinders to make the traditional Stilton shape.
I'll show you that now.
This is where we store the cheese to mature them.
-How many are here then?
-30,000 in this store
and a total capacity for over 120,000 Stiltons.
I have to say, what a pong in here!
That's a beautiful smell.
-Smelly feet, isn't it?
-It's ammonia gas.
It's the same chemical that gives you sweaty feet.
That's why a lot of people think Stilton smells like old socks.
A lot of people think that, but all blue cheeses smell like that when they're maturing,
especially in here, we've got 30,000. It doesn't smell like that on your plate.
Has Stilton always had that smell?
No, no. Stilton originally... This is originally what Stilton looked like.
-There's no mould in there at all, is there?
This is what Stilton was originally.
The blue stuff is a mistake, or an accident, depending on your viewpoint.
How did that happen then?
A crack in the cheese, some blue mould got in...
There's good and bad moulds. This is a good mould.
And it's made it blue.
How long does it take to create a mature Stilton?
Well, that's a week old, that's a month old,
three months, four months. That's a mature Stilton - four months old.
-Only four months? I thought it would be three or four years.
With cheddar, you'd be correct. A good cheddar can be up to two years old.
Stilton matures in that short time. The blue mould accelerates the maturing process.
So a cheese is ready at three or four months old.
So if it's only four months, this must be your Christmas supply here.
This is going to be served up on Christmas Day, most of this lot.
How do you manage to get the blue into the cheese then?
Originally it was an accident,
but what we do nowadays, we add the mould spores or seeds at an earlier part of the production process.
And then later on, what it needs to trigger that mould to grow is oxygen.
So we pierce the cheese, make holes in it and then lets oxygen in
and the blue grows and you get that nice marbled effect.
Unfortunately, we don't have the opportunity to revisit the Hartington creamery.
Production is now being wound down
and it'll be closing its doors for good this summer.
A sign of the many pressures small companies face to stay viable in rural areas,
especially in this tough economic climate.
I've hiked north-west of Milldale
to a climber's paradise known as The Roaches.
I'm off to meet a man who regularly climbs these cliffs - Dave Turnbull.
Dave is the chief executive of the British Mountaineering Council.
He's climbed some of the most challenging peaks all over the world.
I'm here to experience just what it is that keeps bringing him back to the Peak District.
So Derbyshire and the Peak District is heavily steeped in climbing history.
There's probably a hundred different crags here.
Some of them several miles long.
It's got a history going back to the end of the 19th century.
You've got the Dark Peak, the good stone such as this
and you've got the White Peak, the limestone cliffs. It's a great training ground.
So for someone like me, who's a novice, I've done a teeny bit in the past, but not a great amount,
is this a good place, The Roaches, to come and practise?
Yeah, this'll be challenging. We've picked a classic climb, first done in 1947, I think.
It was quite a climb of its day. I think it will be quite challenging for you.
So what do I need to climb this?
You're basically OK like that. Climbers today climb in all sorts of different clothes.
We've got a harness, two ropes, all the modern climbing equipment.
This things are called Friends - climbing devices.
These things revolutionised climbing in about 1977, when they were built.
These things go in cracks and they protect you if you fall off.
'We're going to be attempting the well known climb, Valkyrie.
'Given Dave's climbing history, I think I'll let him lead.'
Generally very good on gritstone, you can take a lot of weight on your feet.
-So you're basically using the wide sections of the crack.
-Can I use my back to lean against?
You can use anything, any part of your body.
OK, this is going to be interesting.
Are you sure this is a climb for a novice like me?
I didn't say that!
Keep thinking about where your feet are.
That's it. Is it a wide section of crack there?
There is, yeah.
I think you can get a bit of a fist in there.
That's all I'm hanging by.
I think maybe you need another one higher up. Then get your feet up.
Ooh, that's beginning to hurt.
OK, you might be ready to catch me if I...
I've got you tight.
That's it. You've done the hard bit now.
That's good. That's good.
I had no idea how hard this is.
That was slightly undignified. I'm sure most climbers don't...
No, you're looking good.
'If I thought that was hard,
'it was nothing compared to what I had to do next.'
-I need to go a bit lower, don't I?
-I think so.
You need to be able to stretch your left foot out.
-You've definitely got the ropes, haven't you?
-Definitely got you.
I'm going to put all the weight on my arm, I can't break it, can I?
No, you won't break your arm, don't worry.
-Sort your feet out, Ben!
You look like you're about the right height there.
Shall I just...
Come on, Ben.
You've got me if I fall, yeah?
Yeah. Pull upwards with your left hand.
Come on, Ben.
I want to hug you!
-Put it there.
-Thank you very much.
Let me clamber up this last...
Woo hoo hoo!
Thank you very much.
That...was quite scary, I have to say.
Very satisfying, though.
You did well.
It's quite a difficult climb for the first time on gritstone.
I'd like to see the novices you have around here!
Ooh, it's good to be back on firm land.
That got the heart pumping.
That was scary.
Like any wilderness, the Peak District can offer excitement and even danger.
You wouldn't want to be all alone out here if the weather turned.
The Derbyshire Moors at the end of the 17th century.
It's bitterly cold, the wind is biting.
Jane Cullembullen and her two daughters leave their home
and travel to her sister's in Sheffield for Christmas.
It's a journey of 25 miles.
As they cross the moors, they get hopelessly lost.
Their bodies were found huddled in a hollow when the snow thawed the following spring.
Tragic accounts like that
were frighteningly common in the 17th century.
Although many of the locals knew how to cross the treacherous moors
and could understand the maze of crisscrossing pathways, strangers couldn't.
As trade increased between villages and towns,
more people found themselves crossing the unknown.
Many were lost and were never found again.
But after the death of the mother and her two daughters,
the government decided that something had to be done.
In 1697, at the time of William III,
they passed an act all to do with roads.
They inserted a clause which said that...
local parishes could erect guide posts or stones,
or, as they call them round here, stoops,
with the directions to the nearest market towns.
This is just the sort of place, a lonely moorland crossroads,
where they would erect the stoop.
You've got to imagine the scene before a single wall was built,
or any of the roads.
Where does the word stoop come from?
It dates from the time when we were ruled by the Danes.
The word stoop is simply the Danish word for a stone.
I'm sure this stoop is very useful
and I'm sure there's probably some in the other direction,
but how do you know how to get from this one to the next one?
The hand reminds you to go to the right.
And in those days, of course, before the heather,
the trackway would be perfectly clear.
In pre-stoop days, they relied on natural features.
Even in some lonely areas, they used individual thorn trees,
they only trees that would survive out here.
People would memorise them.
And even if they were strangers,
they would recite a list that a local would give them.
And very often, in a dale in Derbyshire, the people didn't know the way to the next dale.
They never went.
So those who did know made a living out of guiding foreigners
and the foreigners might live only ten miles away.
With the introduction of maps and construction of proper roads,
stoops became less important.
Many of them fell into disrepair, crumbled, or were simply forgotten about.
Until now, that is. Jim, you're not going to let people forget about stoops.
-You're busy restoring them to their pride of place.
-Yes, I am.
I'm a member of the Holymoorside & District History Society.
We're all very committed to the conservation of many things,
but especially guide stoops at the moment.
How do you go about restoring these to their former glory?
When we find one, we remove it and put it back on to its original site.
They have travelled quite a distance, in some cases,
from where they originated from.
Why do you find them so fascinating?
They have so many interesting features about them.
The date on one, the stonemason evidently had the wrong impression
of what the figure seven looked like, cos it was facing the wrong way.
And the phonetic spelling of the different place names
are also very different,
dependent on the area and the dialect of the area from which the stonemason came.
-What's the story behind this one?
-In 1940, the Home Guard, in their wisdom,
decided to bury all guide posts
in case they were of assistance to the expected German invasion.
And this particular one lay buried in a trench there for 55 years.
-It's in good nick, isn't it?
-Absolutely. It's been preserved in the peat.
The only thing that hasn't any respect for it is the birds.
-Their droppings are creating a corrosion effect on the top.
This is a typical example
of a guide stoop having been removed possibly 200 years ago
by a farmer who needed a gate-post.
And he nicked it from its original site, where it started life in 1710.
But now we're in the fortunate position
whereby, thanks to Michael Burnett, the present farmer on this land,
he has agreed to do an exchange deal with us
whereby we are giving him a gate-post as a replacement for this.
-So soon you'll be able to add this one to your list of restorations.
This is a stoop you erected earlier.
-How long ago did you restore it?
-A year ago last October.
This was re-erected after the war in the wrong position, some quarter of a mile in the distance.
Now these stoops are back in position, what's their future?
They're given a Grade II listing,
and that gives them protection for eternity, we hope.
And of course, they give a lot of pleasure to future generations.
And they add an added entrance for visitors to this national park.
My visit to the park is coming to an end.
But there's one more challenge ahead of me.
I'm nearly on the summit of Shining Tor
and in a moment, I'm going to be flinging myself off the edge, attached to a paraglider.
My route through the Peak District
has taken me from the Heights of Abraham,
through Cromford and into the village of Tissington.
I then travelled to the hamlet of Milldale,
and scaled the gritstone of The Roaches.
To end this journey, I've come to Shining Tor.
I've climbed 1,834 feet to the summit.
But it's not just for this breathtaking scenery.
Local flying instructor Mark Bosher
is set to show me one of the safest ways to throw myself off.
-That's quite a hill.
The view up here...
I can't believe we're going to be flinging ourselves off the edge of this.
-Yes, we will. We'll be flying off.
-I understand I'm in capable hands.
-You've done this lots of times.
We're going to be paragliding, which is what all this stuff is here.
It's a giant parachute. So what do I need to know?
We're going to have a quick safety brief, obviously.
The main thing is that when you go off, keep your legs down,
keep running, and just relax and we'll be away.
-All you've got to do is stick it on like a jacket.
It's like a chair I'm putting on.
I've got a camera on here, so... Yeah, have a look at that.
Hopefully that's going to record the views we have.
-Anything else I need...
-No, just keep running, keep your legs down,
get in the air and we're off.
Quite a strange thing, to keep running on the edge...
Not natural, but that's what you have to do.
'As I'm not an experienced paraglider, I won't be doing this jump solo.
'I'll be secured to Mark and will fly tandem, so I can enjoy the view.'
MARK SHOUTS ENCOURAGEMENT
Keep running, keep running!
That's so cool.
That's nice. That's good.
Woo, this is fast!
This is amazing!
-Keep my legs bent?
Now. Run, run, run.
Well done, Ben. Well done.
Right, just stop there.
We're there. That's it.
Well, I'm not quite Tom Cruise in Top Gun,
but I feel like it. That was incredible.
I began this journey on the Heights of Abraham,
and I've ended it here, on the bottom of Shining Tor,
with my feet firmly on the ground.
It's been a fascinating journey,
where I've discovered how the people of Derbyshire
have kept the rich traditions and heritage of the Peak District alive.
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