Thursday, 19 May 2011

Manifold hawthorn and a dog for the day!

Today I decided to take Sue to the Manifold valley - because I KNOW she loves the hawthorn blossom, and because the Manifold valley is fantastic for the hillsides COVERED in it! We parked at Hulme end, and set off across the fields. The start of the valley was over to our right, and you can see just how voluminous the hawthorn is! Swathes of white, dotted by the occasional pink variety, covered the banks.

This was a particularly good example, the blossom almost looked like a double bloom.
We also saw this immaculate cottage garden. The cottage is in the middle of nowhere, so I wouldn't want to live here, but what a smashing job they have done.
Heavy skies - light heart :-)

Sue couldn't resist a sniff or two.
There were a lot of butterflies about. We even saw an orange tip, but it wouldn't settle for a picture. This one, however, was much more obliging.

We had done some stiff climbing now, and found ourselves high above Ecton house, or hall? This place is prominent because of its copper roof, which is very green It doesn't show up very well on this picture, but if the sun had been on it, it really IS green.
After a lot of debating, due to the ground not tallying with the map, we managed to find our way to an inominate dale that leads past Sugarloaf, and down to Wettonmill. Again, we had the company of the blossom and wonderful hawthorn perfume.
A great surprise - our first early purple orchid! We'd seen lots of flowers that were very early on our walk last week, and Sue had looked back to last year when we had taken lots of orchid pictures - and it was in JULY, so these little beauties were REALLY early.
We made our way past 'sugarloaf' and down to Dale farm, passing some young calves on the way.
Come on now, no 'cock' jokes!!! This proud fellow had a fair old harem around him, and boy - did he look PROUD!
Mr and Mrs.
We decided to have lunch sitting by the river Manifold at Wettonmill. It disappears not far downstream from here. It falls into sink holes (or 'swallets') to re-appear at Ilam. Of course, as soon as the sandwiches came out, we were surrounded by ducks.
Look at these - as good as if a gardener had trained them.
We wanted to explore some caves that my son and his pals had been in. I knew of these caves, but thought them 'out of bounds'. Anyway, we got to them and enjoyed the views.
A nice picture of Thors cave, from the cave at Wettonmill.

Fabulous blossoms on all sides. Even in low light, you can see how prolific it is. When the sun came out, which it did infrequently today, it was stunning to see the sea of white.
As we walked up the interminable hill from Wettonmill, we were heartened by the verges, looking so good and fresh right now. When my brother decided to join me for my weekly walk about 10 years ago, this was the first hill I took him up. He almost decided not to go on with 'this walking lark', but when he saw the views from the ridge, he soon changed his mind!
Manifold camping barn - part of the YHA organisation.
New lambs everywhere.
Not a lamb - but a Jack Russell. As we walked along, he suddenly appeared out of nowhere and joined us. We fussed him a bit, expecting him to go back to the farm we'd just passed through. Oh no, he bounded on ahead of us - for about THREE MILES!! We were beginning to worry about him, but he seemed quite happy to walk with us. That was until we got to a field of cows and calves. Now, I know from past experience that dogs and cows don't mix. There have been some tragedies around Derbyshire, particularly here;
We had crossed the stile into the field, when 'Jack' followed us. He was ok with the cows, but not so them with him, and they were on their feet in seconds. Sue & I quickly got back over the stile to assess the situation, which took a turn for the worse when a very large bull stood up and walked towards the stile to face us off. We decided cowardice was the better part of valour, and climbed a fence to pass the cows in another field. At this point, we 'dissuaded' Jack from following us any further.
Have you SEEN the price of a few sticks of rhubarb in the shops???? How ANYONE could let it go to seed is beyond me!
The dandelions had turned to 'clocks' early this year too, and were spreading their seed in abundance!
By now, we were well on the return half, and could see the green roof of Ecton house across the valley. We had reached that ridge by climbing up from the other side to turn along the top to the right of that barn.
The last leg was along the old route of the Manifold light railway;
Nature had, by and large, retaken the land bordering the old track (which is now Tarmac) and this bunch of Campion was 'just champion'.
This 'bottle brush' took my eye too.
Wild garlic in profusion.
And finally, buttercups to light our way yellow back to the car. As you can see, the sun was breaking out now, just as we ended the walk. We had stayed dry all day, save for a very light shower here and there, and really didn't need coats. A day we felt we had again cheated the weather :-)


  1. I have really enjoyed this post! I spent half of my childhood in the Manifold Valley with my grandparents. We used to do pond dipping in the river at wetton mill! It's been a little while since I was last there and I was thinking of going soon myself!

    I've been in Thor's Cave many times but have never gone into the one at wetton mill!

  2. Hi Louise, as I said, WE hadn't been in the WM caves either, but they are well worth a look, if you go. The pics of Thors cave from the mouth of WM cave came out really well, I thought. Glad it 'stirred' you :-)