For those who didn’t grow up in the UK, the Peak District is a region of empty moorland, caves and grit, a place where the people are hardy and the sheep are hardier.
A wild and wondrous expanse which falls mostly into the county of Derbyshire, the Peak District is a hiker’s paradise, with nearly 3,000km of trails, including the infamous Pennine Way. It’s also been the inspiration for many a literary offering: the region inspired several of William Wordsworth’s poems; it was the setting for key scenes in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; and the village in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
Bakewell is the only major settlement in the Peaks: a town which lends its name both to the national favourite Bakewell Tart and a more local speciality, Bakewell Pudding. The latter is the region’s speciality, a silky soft-set almond and egg custard on a layer of strawberry jam in a crunchy, butter puff pastry case.
Of course, the Peaks are pretty cold, especially come winter, so any visitor will need more than a slice of dainty confectionary to sustain them. Enter Derbyshire oatcakes – a cross between a pancake and a crumpet, made from oats which grew well in the harsh Pennine landscape and nothing like the Scottish biscuit variation.
Perhaps the most roundly-filling food to come out of the Peak District is the intriguingly-named Lumpy Tums, a traditional breakfast dish made by boiling lumps of wetted oatmeal. But the thick, soft Thor Cakes (a traditional Derbyshire biscuit made with wheat flour, oatmeal, butter, dark sugar and fruit) are also pretty sustaining, as is the local staple, the Melandra Loaf (a heavy, fruity bread). Oh, and we mustn’t forget the mutton. Peak District sheep may be among the hardiest in the world, but pop them in a pot and they make for the tenderest of stews!