This time the TransPeak bus was packed to the rafters, standing room only.” I need a double decker”, lamented the driver as I alighted, creating only one space for the four people clamoring to get aboard.

I had arranged to meet a friend who had “five hours to kill” whilst her partner ran the White Peak Marathon. She had doubted the chances of Cromford being able account for these hours. I had arrived to prove her wrong.

First stop was Masson Mills. A giant “factory” building that I have passed on numerous occasions but never actually entered. It may have been remiss of us but we by-passed the historic museum, scooted past the historical DVD and a rather spooky “life-sized” statue of Richard Arkwright (who ate all the pies then Mister Mill Owner?) in search of the café on this bitterly cold day in May (heat wave coming next week, about ruddy time!)

A bucket of hot coffee and a toasted teacake later we had a look around the shops. Quite a nice mix. A large card craft area suggesting that the locals like to stay indoors and make handmade cards. That’s if they are not white water rafting or abseiling Black Rocks as the “Waterproof Outdoor apparel” section was the next largest area.

I picked up a Portmeirion mug up and was surprised to see that this china had in fact been made in China. I should have known but somehow it disappointed me and put me off the purchase. Just as well as my favorite mugs don’t last long at home thanks to the pot washer’s somewhat vigorous approach to washing up. (I know everything is made in China, and Weetabix will eventually be made there too, but it disappoints me still)

It was time to find the Whiskey tasting section. My goodness I have never seen so many malts. So the locals have a wee dram or two while they are making the cards or falling off Black Rocks. A lot of the Lindisfarne country wines were on offer too. All very warming. I brought a jar of chutney and some olives as I’d had enough to drink.

Then back to Cromford. We thoroughly investigated the hippy clothing shop. My friend actually brought a woolly hat to keep her warm. The mittens look appealing too but it seemed just wrong to be buying mittens in May. On up the hill to the Scarthin Bookshop. More coffee and cake this time, the five hours were flying past! After a good mooch around the books it was nearly time to make our way to the finish line, via the Cromford Wharf café.

I explained as much of the history of the place as I knew as we passed the buildings. I have to admit that this building has always fascinated me.

When I was a child I thought it must be a dolls house or that the Victorians must have been small like the Borrowers. It is, I think, an optical illusion because of the building behind it but always look wrong in a very nice quaint way.

By this time I have to admit I was pretty cold due to the miserable weather. Perfect weather for 26 High Peak miles running I am sure but not for those of us on a coffee crawl. I declined the opportunity to see the finish line at the rugby club and left for home. Five hours well spent and room for me on the return TransPeak.

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