Readers often ask me why I’ve chosen to set my Edna Reid Investigates books in the Hope Valley area of Derbyshire. (UK)
Here are three good reasons.
1. Because it’s where I grew up.
2. Because the Peak District is one of the most beautiful parts of the country and
3. It gives me a good excuse to spend time up there doing my research and having a pub lunch in my favourite place, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Castleton.
The Hope Valley is part of what is known as the Dark Peak because of the atmospheric gritstone moors, as opposed to the White Peak known for its limestone and rolling dales.
Potholers, trekkers, cyclists, hang-gliders and rock climbers are drawn to its challenging terrain in all weathers as well as its fascinating Blue John caverns.
Winnats Pass is mentioned in my books. A steep, winding road cuts through the towering limestone cliffs and provides a spectacular backdrop to any “cosy crime”. Mam Tor, or Shivering Mountain as the locals call it, dominates the landscape and from here you can take the challenging walk to Losehill and down into the village of Hope, the setting for Love Bytes Back. The fictitious St Hilda’s is based on Hope Parish Church with its splendid Saxon cross.
There are plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants for when you need a well-deserved break from rambling, and my favourite place to stop is nearby Hathersage with its open air lido and a church famous for its brass rubbings. It’s a busy village with strong literary connections.
Charlotte Bronte was a regular visitor and included it in her writings. She probably chose the name Eyre (Jane) as it is local to the area. Its industrial past included the manufacture of pins and needles.
The Hope Valley line connects the area with Sheffield and Manchester and passes through some of the most stunning scenery. Rugged hillsides and dramatic cliff edges call intrepid walkers and climbers from all over the country. Be sure you have a good pair of boots and a backpack of necessities as the weather can be unpredictable.
Why do I love it so much? It connects me with my long-departed grandfather who used to take me to Surprise View, a spectacular viewpoint to watch sunrises and sunsets. It’s also an official Dark Skies spot for star gazing.
There used to be an ice cream van every Sunday back in the sixties and, of course, I was always treated to whatever I fancied.
The Hope Valley is a place for all seasons but my favourite is winter when the snow frosts the peaks – gone are the days of heavy snowfalls of my childhood – and the skies burn with red and gold. I can see my grandad leaning over on one of the many five bar gates and gazing into the distance. He’d say, “You can travel the world but there’s nowt like Derbyshire, m’duck.’