What is it about the Peak District that makes it the perfect locale for life, sports and everything in between? We ask three locals what drew them to the Peak, what keeps them there, and what fuels their ardent love for the area.
In the county of Derbyshire lies Bakewell, a scenic little market town known for its tarts and the controversy surrounding its origin (there are actually two 'original' recipes). Since 2021, it is also the home of SUMMAT. The café is the passion project of KOTWF co-founder, Sam Village, and is the combination of the deepest loves in his life: family, sports, friends and great coffee. But Sam is a well-travelled man, so why did he decide to touch down in Bakewell? Simply because the Peak District is another one of Sam's deep loves.
"The beauty of Bakewell is in its variety," he explains. "You can train with a lot of elevation on stunning single track or you can smash along the flat Monsall Trail." So that settles it on the sportive front, then. But why open a café there? "I grew up cycling and running around Bakewell and never had anywhere to rack my bike and have a great coffee, so I wanted to fix the problem," he recounts.
"Having coffee outside in places that offer spectacular views are what the Peak were made for. This time of year especially, we can get out early, brew with friends, pop our gear back in the car and then go smash a long run along the ridges. There's something quite primal about that."
For Sam, the Peak evokes a vignette of life at its best. There's a sense that, in Bakewell, he can find the ideal he has been looking for until now. Sounds like he's found it back where it all started for him - at home.
Bruce Dalton is a consultant in the world of cycling which is a fancy way of saying he gets access to a lot of awesome kit to test out, review and help launch into the market. It's important to mention this not just to toot his horn, but because it draws right back to Sam's point about the variety of the area. He explains: "I can test things meant for a wide range of riders because I can easily get to such a variety of pedalling in the Peaks."
He does not say these words lightly. Bruce lived the cyclist life through and through for years. In the summers, he was based in Faucon at the foot of the iconic Mont Ventoux, and in the winters he would haunt the cobbled roads around Oudenaarde in Flemish classics territory. These are some of cycling's most legendary spots, and yet here he is in Bakewell. Why? "I just really felt the draw of home," he confesses. "I now know I was so lucky to have all of this on my doorstep and I'm finally able to fully make use of it and appreciate it."
"The Peaks are pretty unique due to its varied features and tall hills - and it's all so easily accessible. You can definitely see why people flock here. I'm just so lucky to be able to call it home." For Bruce, who has a history in professional cycling, it's also about the people he can share the place with. He is not the first to hear the call of the Peaks, and that's just fine with him. "It's no secret that some of the world's best riders still move to live in the surrounding areas to get access to its great roads and tracks."
But it's not about the sportive qualities of the company for him, it's about the community they contribute to. A thriving sporting community leads to exciting gatherings, events and a vibrant atmosphere. "For a while Bakewell had been the preserve of tourists or locals on a Monday market day but recently a interesting spots have opened up. I regularly head to the SUMMAT rides on a Saturday morning when we head to the Wye Bakehouse for a stonking loaf or a sneaky pint at Thornbridge Tap Room. It’s a great central spot in the Peaks so meeting there on a Saturday is a ritual I’ve grown to really look forward to."
You'll have noticed the two people we asked about the Peaks so far are natives. What can we say... Busted! So, we just had to ask Carly what she thought - she's from down South, you see. Having moved up to Derbyshire many moons ago, you can now find her serving outstanding coffee and homemade baked goods at SUMMAT. She is a very keen runner, a nutritionist and a fantastic example of the vibrant community we were just waxing lyrical about.
When we asked Carly why she decided to stay in the Peaks instead of moving back to her native Kent, she wrote something truly beautiful:
"Whilst wandering riverside footpaths holding toddler’s hands, dog walking through meadows and running the Peaks and Dales of the Peak District, this National Park has managed to make a girl from the seaside feel like she has been on holiday for the last 22 years, whilst simultaneously welcoming her to feel at home in the most beautiful of land locked landscapes."
Enough said, really. That feeling of being on holiday while being at home - isn't that what we all crave somewhere deep down? Carly leads a weekly Wednesday evening run from SUMMAT for those in the mood for a relaxed, social 5k jaunt in the Peaks. Why not tag along when you get the chance? If you live in Bakewell, she might just give you that holiday feeling. If you're not, she might just show you that you want to be.