On our way out of the Peaks District we made a most interesting stop to fulfill another mission – as demanded by my travel cohort. We were to visit Lyme Park; the massive grounds and home that represented Mr. Darcy’s Pemberly Estate on BBC’s Pride & Prejudice. Yes, the one with Colin Firth. (eye roll)
My traveling buddy was a Jane Austen fan – yes, she read the books, and seen many of the film adaptations. She convinced me that a lot of women are obsessed, I repeat: obsessed, with Colin Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy. Specifically the scene of Darcy unexpectedly confronted by Elizabeth Bennet during her visit to Pemberly – his home. In the scene, Darcy was standing dripping wet from a recent dip in his swimming hole. And apparently this made all teenage girls of the early 90’s drool. So, my friend set this mission to find said swimming hole– but, of course, I suggested we take some food and picnic there. I mean, a guy’s got to eat.
We arrived at Lyme Park, parked the car, bought sandwiches and grabbed a map from the information center. The manor ahead of us was massive, but we set that aside to focus on mission #1: Darcy’s Lake – as marked on said map. There didn’t seem to be a marked trail to this ‘famous’ lake, so we veered off the path, into the meadows to find our treasure.
Under the uncommonly hot sun, we trekked through the grass avoiding sheep dung along the way. From behind, The manor looked smaller and smaller as we continued on. Finally, we spotted a herd of sheep relaxing in the shades of trees that encircled a watering hole. Immediately, my cohort knew we had found Darcy’s Lake.
As we walked around the lake – which seemed more like a murky pond – she excitedly described the scene to me. I was looking for a spot to sit and picnic and found a flat landing closest to the ‘swamp-like’ water. This, she had pointed out, was the spot where Colin Firth, as Mr. Darcy, sat to remove his coat and dive in. We settled down and broke in to our ham sandwiches and ginger beer, overlooking Darcy’s ‘dreamy’ lake.
Suddenly, across the way, appeared a young lady in a flowered dress twirling a cream colored Austen-esque parasol over her shoulder. She quietly stood on the landing at the other end of the lake and, appeared to be imagining the famous scene. It was then that I realized girls really do fantasize about this Darcy scene. I see, now, the meaning of the saying ‘Lost in Austen’. (Note to single self: Ladies love this Darcy character. Read more about him and you’re golden.) The girl finally turned away and disappeared through a wooden gate behind us. It was then, that we looked at each other and laughed – realizing that that must be where the marked trail to this lake may be.
We finally packed up our things and explored the gate. We walked through and sure enough, it was a beautifully marked path back to the estate – which was closed for viewing, but we did get to play a little match of croquet on the lawn. It was a perfect ending to the Peaks District.