The Peak District gets its name from the towering limestone peaks that rise up from the rolling landscape. Some rise hundreds of metres above their valleys, while others are bold menhirs, standing in isolation or in company of others on gentle grasslands or beside a bubbling river. At first it seems the land would disown these intrusive rocks if it could, yet the arrangement satisfies: they belong together.
I think it’s the contrasts that make the Peak District so dramatically scenic. There are rolling grasslands in other parts of England, and there are limestone outcrops too - but here the one rears up above the other as if there has been a gigantic battle between the army of grey rock and the forces of pastoral green. A truce reigns: power and peace are companions.
Today it is a landscape of green upon green with the occasional grey splodge. But one can easily imagine the whole covered in snow as it was a few weeks earlier: different, but no less beautiful because even in monochrome the bold sheer shapes of menhire and mount would have contrasted just as dramatically with the rolling fields.
Nestled into this are the little villages, the farms, the crops, the sheep, the cattle … somehow they just look right. Even the people seem to belong (except perhaps on the Bank Holiday when they swarmed like ants over the peaks!).
I often think of Psalm 19 when catching a sight of the Creator’s power revealed in stars at night or his attention to detail in the intricacies of a tiny alpine flower poking its way through a layer of snow. But here too in this peaks’ panorama the work of God’s hands declares his glory. Here we see not on the God of Creation but the God of Providence: fitting man into this beautiful landscape to live and to produce in fulfilment of his calling.