Northern Grit: the Prestige Peak District

“And tho’ they appear so close, the steepness down and up takes up your time. It’s very difficult to find the way here for you see only tops of hills and so many roads-by reason of the best ways up and down – it’s impossible for coach or waggon to pass some of them. You might go 10 miles near London as soon as you are going half so many here.”

– Celia Fiennes on the Peak District, while travelling on horseback in 1697. Taken from ‘Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary.’

When Celia Fiennes passed through here in the late 1600s, this region will have seemed almost impenetrable. Unmade roads didn’t reach far into the Peaks, and the rolling hills’ only interruption would have been the natural gritstone escarpments that dot the landscape. Industry has since carved its way through the land, taming the valleys with both tarmac and rail lines, which in some cases, cut straight through the once-impassable Peaks. The rolling hills that greeted Celia still remain however, and as riders on the Rapha Prestige Peak District discovered, continue to pose a challenge for those that seek them out.