After my very short sleep I was up at 4.30am and creeping around the house like a burglar trying not to make any noise. Thank goodness for the iPhone torch! At least once I got down two flights of stairs to the kitchen I was less likely to disturb anyone.
Like a Hogwarts house elf, I washed up the dishes from the night before, cleaned all the benches and generally tidied up before sitting down with the laptop to check my emails and logging onto Facebook and Twitter.
Once it reached a reasonable hour (for me at least) I crept back upstairs and had a shower. By the time everyone else emerged I had been up and around for four hours.
Finally, after necessities such as breakfast had been taken care of, it was off to Buxton for a look around the historic spa town. Less than half an hour away from Buxworth, Buxton was founded by the Romans who named it Aquae Arnemetiae (Spa of the Goddess of the Grove) but it was in the late 18th century when the town became well known and, even then, a tourist destination. The star attraction at that time was The Crescent - built by the Duke of Devonshire in 1784 to provide accommodation for visitors who were attracted to the town by the spa. Work is now in progress to restore the Grade 1 listed building to its former splendour.
Strolling around the very pleasant little town was interesting, not the least because of the number of dogs we saw while we were there. Initially it was quite charming - so many people bringing their dogs shopping with them - then it turned to amusement as, at every turn, more and more dogs were appearing until finlly we started to feel as if we had landed in a Stephen King story and we were the outsiders who were about to learn some terrible secret. I had visions of the local council being presided over by a Saint Bernard!
It was a strange experience as the town consists of an eclectic mixture of shops and a noticeable (but pleasing) absence of franchise stores. I believe that the pedestrian mall of Spring Gardens has more charity shops than I have seen anywhere else - ever.
We stopped for lunch at an amazing little cafe which offered vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals. It was a charity cafe and the food was lovely. For the four of us it cost just GBP40 (including tip)!
Venturing out again into the town we checked out the Pavilion and Park as well as The Crescent which, due to the renovations/restoration taking place, was covered in scaffolding and building site paraphernalia. Feeling that we had seen all of Buxton that we needed to we moved on to Poole's Cavern which was just a short drive away.
We had discussed whether we were prepared for an underground experience as, for some of us, the idea was a bit daunting but although there were a few trepidations we decided we were all up for it. After all, it's a tourist attraction led by a guide and is not a matter of crawling around in wet, dark places with a torch!
After a 20 minute wait for the next tour to start we followed our guide, Dan, into Poole's Cavern. For the next 40 minutes we were escorted through the caverns and given a potted history, a quick geology lesson and anecdotal stories about the cave system. It was a constant 7 degree C. below ground and the flagstones underfoot were wet but apparently we were there in a dry period. When it has been wet the trickle of water we saw in the stream bed often turns into a roaring torrent with the water sometimes coming up over the path and creating such a noise that the guides cannot be heard in parts of the cavern. It was difficult to imagine such a transformation as all was quiet during our visit but it must be an awesome experience to be there when the river is in full flow.
At the furthest point of the cavern Dan explained how in early tours of the cavern during the 19th century the guides would extinguish the lights and extort money from the panicked and disorientated visitors by threatening to leave them to find their own way back if they did not pay. As an example he promptly switched off the lights.
The ensuing darkness was absolute. This was not just dark, this was the complete absence of light and to be honest, if I had been one of the 19th century travellers to the cavern, I would have paid up without a moment's hesitation! The prospect of finding the way back through the pitch black would certainly have been more than enough incentive to secure those early guides into the caverns a hefty gratuity. Fortunately the guides these days are not so unscrupulous and we were soon making our way back through the caverns and out into the fresh air.
It was then back to Wood Cottage for an evening of conversation, champagne and nibbles in front of the TV. That should have been an evening watching DVDs but it wasn't until we put in a disc that we discovered the the DVD player didn't work! Instead we were obliged to watch Saturday afternoon/evening TV starting with the 1960 classic The Magnificent Seven. Fortunately we had plenty of catching up to do so what was on TV became pretty much irrelevant.