D is for Derbyshire

Derbyshire is my home county, and I’m ridiculously attached to it, no matter how far away I’m officially living. It has hills — proper hills, rather than the gentle slopes that pass for hills near the south coast — as well as valleys and freshwater areas of all varieties. Alongside the wilder and more cultivated lands of the Peak District National Park are lively villages, busy market towns, and the larger town and city of Chesterfield and Derby. Anyone wanting still bigger cities doesn’t have far to travel to reach Sheffield or Manchester, and even the coast isn’t that far although the county is totally landlocked. Of course if you want a resort atmosphere and aren’t too fussed about actual beaches and shore line, there’s always Matlock Bath.

Derbyshire is steeped in history and tradition: well dressings, stately homes, ruins, old mine-workings and lost villages to name but a few. In 1745, the Young Pretender made it as far as Derby before giving up, although hopefully some enterprising locals sold him a Bakewell Pudding and a few pieces of Blue John on his way back north. Incidentally Blue John is actually purple, and a Bakewell Pudding is vastly superior to those pastries described elsewhere as Bakewell Tarts.

Derbyshire also has a lot of sheep, including specific local breeds like the Derbyshire Gritstone and it gets regular mentions on national radio whenever a fall of snow blocks the Snake Pass. On the other hand it tends to get less rain than more westerly counties, and it’s not as unbearably hot in the middle of summer as more southerly counties.

The only problem with Derbyshire is that there are already too many people wanting to live there, and so housing tends to be expensive. Which also leads to some of the roads getting rather full in summer. Then again, exactly the same can be said for parts of Hampshire not far at all from where I’m currently typing this up.

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