Friday, 29 July 2011

Deja vu!

Sue's son, John, decided to come walking with us this week as he had some time off. As he'd never been to the Derwent valley before, we decided to repeat the walk we did a month ago so he could see the area. This is a shot again (I know - you've seen it before, but it's a classic) of the viaduct. We noticed that the res' was a lot lower than when we came last, despite some rain.

Looking at this shot, it was even more obvious. A lot more of the pipe supports were revealed, and the grass on the hillsides looked parched.
You can see the difference here - this was taken a month ago.
As we walked up through the forest, I commented on the fact that, had we been in France, we would be seeing lots of lizards basking in the hot sunshine. About 15 minutes later, low and behold, this little guy ran across the path in front of us. Sue noticed it, but I missed it, so I stood stock still and waited.......... suddenly, he popped back out - can you see him?
No? Here's a closer look.
There was some pretty impressive fungi about too. I've no idea what this one is, but if it was a good eater, I would know it. It was pretty big though.
You can see here with my hand for comparison.
We also found a penny bun, or cep (boletus edulis - which you can tell by the name, IS an eater), and it went into Sue's sack, to be added to a pasta meal the next night.
As we climbed up to Alport castles, we looked back to see the farmer lining up the grass to dry and collect before it rained. The patterns looked really good from here.
There's a small pond just below the castles, and we think that's why we saw lots of these beautiful blue damselfly. They sat for me while I took pictures.

After declining to top the towers of the castle, John and Sue started the descent to the reservoirs again, pausing to take in the magnificent views from here.
This top reservoir didn't look too low. It was a nice last shot before we started back home.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Safe Arbor

 Arbor low - once a place of sacrifice, celebration and ritual, is now a lot quieter! These days it has a real air of mystery and calm about it. It's been a while since we've been there, so we parked up in Hartington, and started off towards the sacred site.
This is the centre of Hartington, one of many lovely villages in Derbyshire, but this one is famous for the cheese it used to produce. Sadly, the cheese factory closed in 2009, but an enterprising lady has bought the old cheese shop and kept it going. They still sell the Hartington white and blue Stilton cheese, but are not allowed to use the word 'Hartington', as it's not made in the village these days, but it IS made to the same recipe.
 The old cheese shop.
 As we left the village, we came across this cottage with a superb display of hanging baskets, not to mention the garden. While we were standing in admiration, the owner came out to us and invited us in for the 'grand tour'. Reg told us he watered the baskets almost every day from his ladder, and he's not a youngster. Rather him than me!
 Some of the exhibits in and around his cottage were breathtaking, and testament to the love and care he gave to it.
 These lovely poppies he saw on the roadside at another village, Wetton, and decided to take some of the seed and set them in the verge by his house. He called them his 'legacy to the village'.
 Aren't they beautiful?

 He also had a way with juxtaposing (I've always wanted to use that word) certain species, and he really had an eye for this. These foxgloves and daisies go together SO well.

 After chatting to him, and promising to return to see the garden at its best in about three weeks, we left the confines of the village and rose into the hills.
Now we were seeing the wild side of plant life, these thistles caught Sue's eye, and she said they were some of the most perfect she'd ever seen.

 We were heading towards, but not as far as, Pilsbury castle. To our left, we could see the trig' point on top of Sheen hill.

 Looking forwards was the iconic view of the reef knolls of Parkhouse and Chrome hills.

 This time of the year there are always inquisitive calves that come up to you. That's OK if they're on their own., BUT..........

OK, OK - no problem!

 This SUPER 'clock' caught our eye. We're sure it's called 'Goatsbeard', but it was very much like one we'd seen in the Pyrenees in France. MUCH bigger seeds than a dandelion.

 This lamb was a lovely shade of brown.
We left the open fields, stopped at the cycle hire centre at Parsley Hay for lunch, before doing a bit of road walking towards our goal today, Arbor Low. If you look on the O.S. map, you'll see there are NO paths immediately around the site, which is really surprising and disappointing. The henge of Arbor Low is actually on private ground (something I strongly disagree with) and you have to pay to visit it. It's a bugbear to have to 'Tarmac trot' to get to it, but there is just no alternative. The cereals were well advanced in the fields now as we looked over them. 

 So, this is what the 'experts' say Arbor Low USED to look like in its heyday.
Sadly, the stones were probably knocked down in Victorian times because of the Pagan connections of the site. However, it's still impressive, and with a little imagination, you can see how it used to stand up. This place DOES have a very strange, yet calming, atmosphere. With the incredible panorama from here, you can see why the site was chosen to be special by our ancestors. Read more about it here;

 After our visit, and another unpleasant walk along the road, we returned to the high peak trail, but at this point branched right onto the Tissington trail. You can see from this cutting just how difficult it was to build a railway in these parts. There are lots of these, and embankments too, but this is one of the deepest and most impressive.
 These old railways provide safe haven for LOTS of wild flowers and insects. Often too, you'll see an apple or pear tree, the result of some engine driver throwing his core out of the train after eating it, and it self-setting by the side of the line.
At Hartington station, we left the trail and once again took footpaths through the fields. We also negotiated this delightfully overgrown track. 

The farmers knew that rain was forecast, so they were out trying to get the silage grass in, dry and wrapped as soon as possible before it was too late.

 This was the reason for their urgency - threatening!

 The fabulous flagship YHA hostel at Hartington.

 In no time, we were back in the village centre, with one last look at the church before setting off back home. We JUST missed the cheese shop, which closed at 5:00pm. We were just ten minutes too late, but we'd had a lovely day, I think you'll agree.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Sunsets at Monsal Head

Sometimes, Sue & I love to go to Monsal head on a clear night to sit, eat, drink a glass of wine, and just watch the spectacle of the sunset.

Life doesn't get much better than this. :-)