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A Weekend in Buxton

We traveled from our respective corners of the world, my favorite people and I, to spend the weekend in my favorite place, the north of England, and attend a concert by our favorite musician.

By Emily AlbersPublished about a month ago Updated 27 days ago 6 min read
Top Story - May 2024
The Buxton Opera House. Photo by Colin and Linda McKie via Adobe Stock.

All my life, I’ve been English in an emotional, mental, and social way, but never a physical one until the Spring of 2022 when all my Anglophile dreams came true. I was finally able to visit my soul country, meet my wonderful online friends in person, and confirm my belief that it was where I belonged.

I’ve been fortunate enough to go back twice since then, with all three of my visits being the best trips I’ve ever taken. This particular story is about my third and most recent trip from April of this year when I visited the north for the first time. This time, the first leg of my journey actually began in Ireland.

My mom and I were invited to a relative’s destination wedding in a gorgeous Irish castle so obviously we couldn’t say yes fast enough. I had a fabulous time walking along the shore, exploring the magnificent castle and its grounds that looked straight out of a fairy-tale, and getting drunk in the local pubs. Ireland truly was breathtakingly beautiful; however, it wasn’t enough to steal my heart away from England. I don’t think anything ever will be.

Castlebellingham Bay Beach, Castlebellingham, Ireland. Photo by me.

After the wedding, my mom and I planned to meet up with our friend Malcolm in London. However, as luck would have it, we found out that Kate Rusby was kicking off her Spring tour in Buxton around the time we’d be there. Kate is a very talented folk singer and musician whom all three of us are big fans of, so we decided we’d meet up in Buxton for the weekend instead.

It was bittersweet, leaving Ireland, but I was beside myself with excitement for what was ahead. Before we boarded our flight, I made sure to grab some Tayto crisps as they were Kate’s favorite and she didn’t get to have them very often since she lives in Yorkshire.

Malcolm was waiting for us at Manchester airport and the three of us caught our train and had a good old catch up as we whizzed through the countryside. I spent most of the time looking out the window, completely captivated by my first glimpse at the northern landscape. We traveled through what’s known as the Peak District, located mostly in Derbyshire.

My photos of the Peak District turned out blurry as our train was moving too fast, so here is a professional one to do its beauty justice! Photo by Christine Bird via Adobe Stock.

I saw rolling green hills dotted with sheep, rivers lined with narrowboats, cozy little towns with shops and houses and flourishing gardens, ivy-covered train stations, and massive bridges that provided us with a view of the peaks and valleys that seemed to go on forever. It was magical. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t dreaming, that this level of beauty actually existed in the waking world. The train ride took about an hour, but it seemed to go by in a flash.

It was nearing lunch time when we arrived at our hotel, so we grabbed some grub before we set out to explore. There was plenty to see and do, and the more we saw and did, the more I fell in love! For those who don’t know, Buxton is a historic spa town with a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. It’s known for its stunning Georgian and Victorian architecture, but what really makes it famous is its natural mineral water that bubbles up from geothermal springs. Be it bathing or drinking, everyone who finds themselves in Buxton should treat themselves to it.

So with our bags full of empty water bottles, we made our way to St. Ann’s Well where the water poured from a spout beneath a sculpture of its namesake. The water is a warm 82F/28C when it comes out, but I still found it to be extremely refreshing and satisfying, probably more than any water I’d ever had.

St Ann's Well and the big hill behind it called The Slopes. Photo by me.

The well lies at the bottom of a steep hill, too steep for my aged companions to tackle - too steep for me to tackle to be honest, but I was determined to haul my out-of-shape body up there so I could see the view. Luckily there were pathways that doubled back, so it wasn’t too bad, and once I reached the top, I knew the climb had been worth it.

Everything that made Buxton so charming and beautiful on the ground made for an even more spectacular view from above. It was a Saturday so there were plenty of people out and about, but it was quiet and peaceful up on the hill. A soft breeze was blowing, birds were chirping, the sun was bright and warm - it couldn’t have been more idyllic. We walked around a bit more until we’d worked up an appetite, then we had dinner in a lovely little cafe before calling it a night and heading back to the hotel.

We were up early the next morning and spent the better part of the day walking along the rows of cute, quirky shops that lined the streets, occasionally popping into one and looking around. We also visited the historic Pavilion Gardens and strolled through the serene landscape, admiring the wide variety of plants.

The Pavilion Gardens. Photo by corinaldo via Adobe Stock.

Afterward, we had a big lunch and didn’t really feel much like walking after that, so we took a rest on a park bench and listened to the live music being played from the city center. We relaxed there until the time came for us to head back to the hotel and make ourselves presentable for Kate. Before we knew it, the night we’d been waiting for had arrived.

Malcolm and I standing outside the Buxton Opera House. Photo by Anne Albers.

The grand Edwardian facade of the Buxton Opera House commanded our attention and we had to stop and get a few pics before making our way inside. The interior was even more ornate with a massive domed ceiling of white marble decorated with sculptures and paintings in gold accents. It reminded me of a Roman cathedral, which made sense because for the next two hours, I listened, surrounded by the people I loved most, as an angel sang to us. Hearing Kate’s voice in person, in a venue like that, words could never do it justice - it’s simply ineffable. But I can safely say, I’ve never felt so profoundly moved by anything in my life.

The interior of the Buxton Opera House. Photo by me.

After the show, my mom went back to the hotel while Malcolm and I waited for Kate by the stage door, mini-posters (and Tayto crisps) in hand, waiting to get them autographed. Malcolm watched me pace around the building, knowing I was nervous and trying his best to hype me up as he always does, which I was grateful for, but I was actually just trying to stay warm. I hadn’t anticipated how cold it was going to be once the sun went down, and my t-shirt-over-a-long-sleeve-shirt situation wasn’t doing it for me.

After what felt like ages, I heard the sound of a door open, turned around and there, standing under the streetlight, all smiles and curls, was the angel herself. She noticed I was holding her favorite crisps and her large brown eyes grew larger with childlike glee. She thanked me profusely, and we had a lovely conversation about the concert and my trip to Ireland. Then she asked me my name and we shook hands.

“Oh my, you’re freezing!” she gasped, and took my hand in both of hers, trying to warm me up. In that moment, my world shrank to a singular point and it was just the feeling of my hand in Kate’s, wonderfully warm and softer than I imagined a guitarist's hands would be.

All too soon, she let go and I suddenly remembered the flat cap I'd brought for her in my backpack. I knew the crisps would go fast, so I wanted to give her something more permanent to say thank you for being the person she is, for creating the music she does. She thanked me as she put it on - backwards of course, this is Kate Rusby - and her curls poofed out on either side, refusing to be contained.

“Feels like I’m back in Yorkshire!” she cheered, and the joy on her face reminded me that I wasn't the only one who was far from home. We chatted a bit more, me being an awkward fangirl and Kate being her spirited, kind, genuine self until the time inevitably came for us to hug each other goodbye and continue on our respective journeys. More cities with more people wanting to bask in Kate’s light were waiting for her, and a hot shower was waiting for me.

The remarkable Kate Rusby looking stunning in her flat cap. I'm there too. Photo by Malcolm Bainbridge.

The next morning, Malcolm and I told my mom about our meeting with Kate while we ate our breakfast and we all agreed that this had been the most enjoyable weekend we’d had in ages. Buxton was such a beautiful, quaint, quintessentially English town full of lovely people and when we had to leave, the three of us - maybe Kate too - left with a whole new batch of wonderful memories that we could save for the rainy days in our respective corners of the world.


About the Creator

Emily Albers

Hi there! My name's Emily, and I'm a 26 year old Kansan with a passion for writing! I hope you enjoy my lil' stories and if you'd like to read more, you can check out my Medium profile! Have a good one! <3

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Comments (10)

  • Andrea Corwin 9 days ago

    She truly was your angel, treating you so kindly!! Lovely story, so glad you got to see your favorite singer in person and in the country you so admire! Congrats on TS.

  • Caroline Craven22 days ago

    So glad you got top story for this. Well done!

  • Anna 30 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Congrats on your top story.

  • Sweileh 888about a month ago

    Interesting and delicious content, keep giving more

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Sounds heavenly, and a lovely ringing endorsement of Buxton. I'll be adding to my ever expanding list! Thanks for the rec. And congratulations on Top Story! 🥳

  • Kayleigh Fraser ✨about a month ago

    Looks like a fabulous trip - to a gorgeous part of the UK that I haven’t been to 🌟

  • Brenda Fluhartyabout a month ago

    Congratulations on the top story.

  • angela hepworthabout a month ago

    Congrats on top story! I’d love to visit there one day.

  • Frankie Martinelliabout a month ago

    Just down the road from me (4 miles) A well deserved Top Story ❤️

Emily AlbersWritten by Emily Albers

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