For our 19th wedding anniversary I googled “local bronze age sites” and booked a night away near one – because of course 19 years is bronze. As is 8 years. No I don’t get it either. Anyway I was feeling pretty proud of my ingenuity.
With hindsight I didn’t do quite enough research before booking the hotel. Perhaps for the first night away without the kids in about 5 years I should have gone for more than 3 stars but, well, budgets. And to be fair the need for a local bronze age site heavily influenced my decision making process.
We turned up in Dovedale at 3pm, clocking the National Trust coffee van on the way to the toilet. The toilet wasn’t free – I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised (cost of living issues have even affected dodgy cold toilets in Derbyshire). We needed two 20ps which we didn’t have. I didn’t fancy squatting in a hedge. Paul is skinny so squeezed past the barrier. I was less fortunate so limboed underneath it. I’m not proud but needs must. By the time we came out of the toilet the coffee van was shut. None of this boded well.
We went for a walk. Paul has an app which is great in theory but doesn’t always align the gps, the map and our location very effectively. Of course we ended up on the wrong side of a fence (we climbed over it – I felt the whole climbing over and under things was getting out of hand to be honest), couldn’t find a discernable path for quite some time, got scared by cows (just me), tried to avoid cow pats unsuccessfully and Paul’s finger went blue. Just an average walk for us to be fair.
We arrived windswept and tired at the hotel where we checked in and were slightly overwhelmed by the 1980s grandeur. It’s named after some guy who fished locally, so from a theme perspective the bar was quite…aquatic. We had a drink then went up to our room which was also a bit, shall we say, classic in style, but the bed was comfortable and it had a TV so we spent time watching an episode of Flog It as they didn’t have Netflix. We got dressed up for dinner and then wondered why we had bothered when the man at the table next to us was wearing an Aztec orange fleece.
Dinner was delicious to be fair and this bar room had been done up so was pretty pleasant. There were no stuffed fish this time only drawings of them. We ate a lot. Paul had parma violet icecream with his pudding which was rank but other than that it all went well. We sat next to some posh young people who made me feel poor, old and not well travelled “Island hopping is to die for”. At the end we asked for liqueur coffee and the waiter looked very confused, which was baffling when the hotel vibe was so last century. We tried to be helpful and asked for coffee and an amaretto. They didn’t have amaretto so we had baileys instead which we poured in the coffee and said “voila”. The waiter look confused. We’d had a lovely dinner and didn’t fancy hanging about amoung the stuffed fish in the bar so went up to bed.
At 2.30am we were woken by the couple next door having an almighty row. There was a lot of swearing. We daren’t ring reception because the walls were so thin they would have heard us making the call. It went quiet after about an hour, and then at 7am it started up again. I’m fairly sure one thought the other had been repeatedly unfaithful over the last four years. I’m concerned their relationship doesn’t have much of a future. Apparently they both left in a huff and then came back smiling to check out together a few minutes later so maybe I’m wrong and they are about to get married. Perhaps in 19 (or 8) years time they can come back to hotel, reminisce and visit a Bronze Age site.
Once we checked out we headed to our Arbor Low to appreciate a 4000 year old burial mound. Some sheep were menacing. The wind was bitter and we took a selfie, as did another man who was there on his own admiring the no longer standing stones in the wind. Then we got back in the warm car and came home.
Honestly it was fantastic. Why choose a 5 star hotel when you can have a mini adventure in The Peak District instead?