If there’s one lesson we learned while travelling in Arizona in our RV, it was to avoid areas of high elevation in the winter. The higher you go, the colder it gets. We don’t pack up and leave Canada for 5 months each winter in search of cold and snow, I’ll tell you (especially not when we were living in, essentially, a tin can with facilities).
Lessons learned can be soon forgotten.
As we approached the lovely town of Buxton last week, our friend announced, “Buxton is the highest town in the UK.” Wait. What? Highest as in elevation? In February? You have got to be kidding me. In retrospect, I suppose we might have made the connection, seeing as Buxton is “the gateway to the Peak District National Park” (known for, you know, peaks), but we just hadn’t thought that one through.
No worries, we checked in to our B&B, the Roseleigh, overlooking the pretty Pavilion Gardens. If we craned our necks a little, we could actually see one of the park’s little lakes, the water fowl, and the expanses of lawn from our window. Of course, we were looking through the single pane window that let in just enough cool air to add to our special connection with nature.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the park, the historic buildings downtown, and sampling the water at St. Anne’s Well. I’m not sure about the healing properties of the warm spring water that flows freely for the residents of Buxton (according to an Act of Parliament) but you can’t ignore the water’s historic importance.
The spring was the key feature that lead to this town eventually growing to over 20,000. As far back as the Romans, people have believed the waters had restorative properties and, eventually, a spa town developed. Buxton Hall was built for the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1572. Bath houses with spa facilities, a theatre, a hospital, and shops were added. Presto! This little town became very fashionable and has been a tourist destination ever since.
In addition to the springs and access to the National Park, Buxton is also home to Poole’s Cavern. We have toured a few of these underground marvels (including the breath-taking Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and Kartchner Caverns in Arizona), and they are truly fascinating and, usually, quite warm. Naturally, we decided we’d rather climb an additional 400 feet or so up Grin Low to Solomon’s Temple. This website will tell you (in addition to some very interesting history) that the tower has no practical purpose, but everyone knows you visit it for stunning views of the surrounding area.
Witness the joy we felt as we reached the top and the snow swirled around us. We were also gleefully aware that the snow was quickly hiding our foot steps, and the fog was making it hard to see where we had just come from.
We made it. Our destination: Solomon’s Temple.
Now, to climb up and enjoy the views. Of course, by this point, we were happy just to see the damned tower. The promise of seeing for 50 miles had now been reduced to nothing more than a cruel joke.
On the plus side, there were very few other people trekking up the hill on that morning! We had this practically all to ourselves. The fog blanketed us in peace and quiet, making the experience truly beautiful and a bit surreal.
All was not lost, the next morning was cold and almost sunny (given the options of a British winter, we prefer this weather combo to snow or rain with heavy clouds). Good weather is best spent outdoors putting feet to pavement and checking out the rest of the town, starting with another stroll through the park.
It’s always good to know where one can find good stabling when selecting the perfect public house.
By now, you know that I’m not likely to visit an historic town without paying my respects to those who were there long before I was.
On this cheerful note, I will mention that we have relocated. We had a fabulous couple of months with the 3 kitties in Heysham, and to be honest, it’s always a little hard to leave. We really get attached to our furry friends, but are lucky to have been invited to look after a new little character. For more on this, please check out the updated “Where am I now?” page.
Stay tuned for more adventures!