The Cultural Heritage of the Peak District
The Peak District has always been situated conveniently close to the city of five rivers, seven hills, and ninety-two pubs, and the Metropolitan City of Manchester, which led many to debate over to whom the Peak District culturally belongs. Which side of this green and pleasant land has left its mark most defiantly upon the small bands of roaming dwellers who inhabit the Peak District's unattainable lands, the lands of which it is said no man could own, but all men could borrow.
So where does the Peak District draw its famous nonchalance and laissez-faire attitude towards the flummoxing peaks and troughs that constitute both the physical landscape of hills and the figurative landscape of life? Those who write on such matters are of the opinion that it stems not from the surrounding culture of the cities that guard its borders, nor even the people who come to settle into the nooks and crannies of the rocks and meadows, but instead from the area itself.
History and culture is deep rooted in the babbling brooks, whispering winds and foraging forests that were raised and lowered by hands concealed millennia before the first breathes of history were ever sounded against the cave wall of time, and its echoes still resonate today, reflected in the silv'ry tarns and arts & crafts centres that dot the village streets as though in some Pointillist painting of idyllic scenes long since lost in the dusty avenues of cultural inheritance.
If homeopathy had a home it is surely in the Peak District. Here the water has memory; memory of the slightest drops of history, the blood spilt by Saxon kings, the milk of human kindness, the rain that fell upon the battlefield and the sweet Pagan rituals which once dominated the now predominantly Christian landscape. Churches collect like pools of holy water in the basin of the hills, nestled discreetly into the community in a way that recalls the parish greens and buttered toast of the England known by Betjeman, Woodhouse, Keats and Gay, and not the later England sullied by the names of Orwell, Waugh, and King, and that is where the true cultural heritage of the Peak District lies, it is in the words, the great words, spoken by the epochs, by the trees, the words spoken sweetly by the winds against the weathered cliffs and the words roared terribly by the rivers gushing against the banks. It is in the words of greeting heralded by the sun to the moon, and the words stuttered by the rambling paths that wind their way along the beaten tracks. It is the word, and it whispers 'culture'.
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