Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill DBE is a retired British Olympic Gold track and field athlete
“The Peak District in the UK is the most beautiful place. I’m maybe biased because my grandparents live there in the village of Castleton. As children, me and my sister spent a lot of time out there and the nearby villages, off on adventures. I’ve got lots of great memories of us as a family.
My grandparents live just below the castle, and we would go sledging on the hills and in the summer we would get ice cream and go for long walks. I didn’t like long walks when I was little but we used to a really long one up Mam Tor. Now I look back and think it was fun.
Going to Derbyshire is the opposite of where I lived growing up in the centre of Sheffield, with noise and traffic. Around Castleton is really hilly. Behind where my grandparents live is Winnats Pass, where the road winds up through the hills and over to Manchester. There are massive cliffs and rocks; it looks like something out of Game of Thrones. It’s really beautiful and dramatic.
My grandma used to work in the caverns at the Blue John mine and I used to love going down there. I think I’d be scared now, as I’m a bit claustrophobic. But the Blue John is magical.
When I was younger my sister and I wouldn’t want to go home. Now it’s lovely to go and visit and come back home refreshed. When I was training, I would head up to Castleton for some down time and to relax. The signal is terrible, so you don’t have to worry about emails and what might be going on back home.
You can grab a couple of days detached from everything.
I’m lucky it’s on my doorstep and I try and get there regularly. A few weeks ago I took my little boy Reggie to his great-grandparents. They love having him over. It’s weird to look in the bedroom where we used to sleep when we were little; it always seemed massive but it’s a tiny box-room.
It’s not somewhere I go to be alone. I always spend time with the family; when I go round my grandma has invited five of her friends. It’s not a place I can be incognito.
The summer is my favourite time of year as you can do so much more. When it snows up there, it really snows.
The drive from where I live in Sheffield doesn’t take long — you pass through the villages of Hope and Hathersage, where Andy and I got married. I’m excited about making new memories out there. We love taking our labrador Myla on massive walks. It’s wonderful having that connection from my childhood and I want Reggie to enjoy it too.”
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