I am clinging awkwardly to a rock face, feeling like a pre-fairy-godmother Cinderella who has unwittingly stumbled on to a Spider Man film set. Thirteen stone and anchored below by my guide, Adam, who is of featherweight proportions, I wedge my walloping feet into holes the size of a matchbox and lurch my torso in the opposite direction to clutch at an opening. When I signed up for an adventure weekend in the Peak District, I was fully prepared for some physical challenges, but with my nose in the wall, I’m splayed like a fat gecko … and then it snows. Ice nestles upon my shoulders, in the crooks of my neck, it rests on my helmet and on my eyelashes, and I think to myself: “I didn’t sign up for this.”

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%TNT Magazine% peak district kayaking

But I dare not complain outwardly. Rather than run for cover, rock climbers and adventurers all around me barely flinch at the inhospitable weather conditions. Adam continues to rig ropes and fasten carabiners, and my climbing partner, Tony, and I exchange a look that confirms neither 
of us will succumb while surrounded by hardy Northerners.

The Peak District is an expanse of protected forestlands in Derbyshire, and is, arguably, England’s adventure capital. Though rock climbing, abseiling, scrambling and cycling is
on our to-do list this weekend, these activities barely scratch the surface of possibilities. Hiking, exploring the natural caverns of Castleton – including one called the Devil’s Arse – canoeing, kayaking and hang gliding over the moors are also options for thrill-seekers.

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%TNT Magazine% peak district rock climbing

However, I’m happy to save those activities for another visit. Right now, I’m abseiling at a 45-degree angle, 30m-high, on the rocky gritstone ridges of an area known as The Roaches – a mecca for outdoors enthusiasts.

The temperature is sub-zero and I can’t feel my fingers or my toes, and I can’t muster a smile because my face has been paralysed by frost. I am smiling on the inside. Really.

I move on to scrambling, which brings some life back into my extremities, and I’m excited, not least because up until now, it’s been difficult to understand what it actually is. Scrambling, it turns out, is essentially tackling a natural rocky obstacle course. I follow Adam as we mount boulders, sidle through narrow gaps, hike rocky paths and squeeze through tiny openings. After a 20-minute expedition, we emerge sopping wet from the snow, our legs bruised, and noses dripping like taps. It has been unadulterated childlike fun.

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%TNT Magazine% peak district scenery

Overnight, in the spa town of Buxton, I watch lorries jackknife and traffic pile up on roads dumped with snow. But, the next morning, conjecture that the chaos would scupper a planned day of cycling fade, as I meet Alan, 
an ex-army officer and mountain biking extraordinaire, 
who beams: “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”

We set off from New Mills and follow a trail along an old Midland Railway track, through the heart of the Peak District, pushing through ancient gates and swerving past numerous bounding dogs and their exuberant owners.
We stop for an hour to learn some techniques. I realise I’ve been kidding myself whenever I have announced, with total self-assuredness, that “I know how to mountain bike”. It’s more than just pedalling, I now realise.

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%TNT Magazine% peak district biking

Alan teaches me a few tricks for biking up a mountain, careering down a mountain, riding over boulders without dismounting, braking sharply and not flipping on my head, and even doing a front wheelie.

Normally, at the end of this lesson, we’d have tackled one of the district’s beckoning peaks. However, the white stuff is now almost ankle-deep, and a steaming hot chocolate is now the order of the day.

But first, I size up a kerb and imagine a shallow rocky mass in its place, tug at my handlebars on the approach, lift the front wheel ever so slightly, clip the kerb and promptly fall flat on my face. Maybe I’m not quite ready for the peaks.

Peak Pursuits runs outdoor adventure experiences for £50 per person per day.  ptpeakpursuits.co.uk A mountain biking skills course with Peak Outdoor Training is normally £75, but discounted to £50 for TNT readers who book by March 18. peakoutdoortraining.co.uk

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Getting there

Trains run from London to Derby, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Chesterfield and Macclesfield from about £25 one-way. (eastmidlandstrains.co.uk) National Express also runs coaches between London and Chesterfield or Derby from £7.50 one-way. (nationalexpress.com)

Where to eat

Visit the old stone village
of Calver for Sunday lunch at Derwentwater Arms, from £9.25. It’s a proper village pub with views over a valley. (derwentwaterarms.co.uk)

Not just a great spot for watching articulated lorries rumble by, Simply Thai does lush curries from £7.75. (simplythaibuxton.co.uk)

Where to drink

Have a drink at Vie Lounge piano bar in Chesterfield. It’s a chic hideout tucked away from the main drag, with cocktails from £5.75. Also, don’t forget to check out Chesterfield’s famous crooked spire. (vieloungederby.co.uk)

Barley Mow (Main Street, Kirk Ireton) is a rustic village pub in the Derbyshire Dales that harks back to a bygone era. There’s no bar as such; beers, at £2.55 
a pint, are drawn straight from the barrel and served through a hatch.

Where to sleep

Spend a night at the Barcelo Buxton Palace Hotel. It’s a Victorian landmark in a picturesque spa town, and its restaurant does great food. Bed 
and breakfast from £69pn. 
(barcelo-hotels.co.uk)

Stay in a refurbished stone barn for something novel. Toft Barn sleeps 12 people and costs £1155 for three nights.  (partyhouses.co.uk)