In June we headed to the Peak District for a camping weekend.

We stayed at the Rivendale campsite between Ashbourne and Buxton which is about 3 hours drive from London. On Saturday we did a day walk up on The Roaches which is a rocky outcrop in the lower “white peaks” area of the Peak District.

The walk started out with a cracker! One of the first fields we walked through Sasha found herself knee deep in a bog at the exit of a cattle yard. Needless to say everyone stayed in good spirits regardless of the smell, and almost losing a shoe.

Here are our accounts of the highlight of the day, our engagement.

Andrew’s version:

As we walked the trail across the top of the peaks I was looking out for the right spot to pop the question. The sun was coming and going behind the clouds and the traffic on the trail was relatively high. More than I had hoped anyway.

We stopped about half way across the top which had great 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside and with quite a few people still passing us it was time to have something to eat and drink and wait patiently for the walkers to disperse. This gave me the opportunity to keep an eye on the passing walkers under the guise of napping on a rock.

The clouds parted and the walkers disappeared and the time was right, which was moment AFTER Sasha decided it was time to go. Before she got too far I held her hand, took a knee and asked her to marry me, to which she replied “yes”. I had the ring in my day pack…

… history of the ring is that I had been looking for a while and found a design I liked and took the gamble on getting the ring made up without having been able to see what it would look like before hand. The ring was very nice with a twist setting to hold the stone. The jeweler who made the ring thought it was so nice that they decided to make up a few extra to display in the window for future engagement ring shoppers. I was very happy with the result…

… which I had bought 5 weeks before and had had sitting in my desk drawer at work for the previous 2 weeks waiting for this camping trip. From what I saw Sasha loved the ring and the smile on her face was from ear to ear.

After taking a few photos to capture the location we continued on the trail. Luckily Sasha didn’t take any falls as she wasn’t really looking where she was walking for the rest of the way down. Apparently staring at her new jewelry was higher up the priority list.

Sasha’s version:

Saturday, 13th June 2009, began a day just like any other…

After arriving late and pitching our tent in the dark, we awoke to sunshine and birdsong and a sense of relief that we hadn’t camped on a cow pat. Or indeed something worse! In the light of day, the campsite turned out to be a pretty meadow with tall grass and wildflowers that almost towered over our cosy 2-person tent (and explained the more-comfy-than-usual good night’s sleep).

So far, so good.

We had decided to spend the day walking a classic 4-5 hour route from Tittesworth Reservoir up to the Roaches, across the ridge and back again on the public paths that criss-cross local farmland. I was especially looking forward to this walk as I knew the BBC had used the top of the crags to film the picturesque views featured in the 1995 Pride & Prejudice mini-series – where Elizabeth Bennett travels with the Gardiners through the Peak District and on to Pemberley (and Colin Firth’s now infamous scene emerging from the lake. But I digress…).

All was going well until our first challenge navigating a muddy field, whereupon I promptly sank into the bog while the cows looked on with amusement. This escapade was then swiftly followed by being chased through the adjacent field by an overly protective ram guarding his ewes and lambs. I do SO love the great outdoors!

So, good start to the day – knee-deep in poo and pursued by angry locals. That’s actually pretty close to my regular commute to work, so still nothing too out of the ordinary there.

The walk itself did not disappoint. The Roaches loomed ahead on the skyline right from the start, and as we got closer we could see lots of climbers trying their hand at the cliffs (cue bout of nostalgia for past expeditions to Nowra and the Blue Mountains). We followed the path up through the crags to the top of the ridge and stopped for a picnic lunch complete with spectacular views. Andrew settled himself on a warm rock for a siesta (a faux siesta as it turns out) while I took in the panorama and enjoyed the fresh air. Little did I know the surprise in store for me.

We (OK, me) were just getting ready to set off again, when Andrew said he had something to ask me. He then dropped to one knee, took my hand, whipped out a small “here’s one I prepared earlier” box and asked me if I would do him the honour of becoming his wife. To which I replied “I thought you’d never ask… of course YES!” He then slid a beautiful engagement ring on my finger and gently took my sunglasses off my face so I could actually see it (and him) properly – they had misted up by this point!

Seemed a good idea to put the backpacks down again and enjoy some “quality time” as a newly engaged couple. This mainly involved grinning like idiots and smooching like honeymooners. If the Peak District was lovely before, it will certainly hold a special place in the memories now.

We celebrated in Buxton for dinner and the following day took in the sights of some of the surrounding towns such as Chatsworth House, which has been used in a number of period movies like the 2005 film version of Pride & Prejudice and more recently The Duchess. Keira Knightley must feel like she lives there by now! Managed a sneaky Bakewell Tart in Bakewell and then headed home to London to share our good news with friends and family.