Saturday, 24 April 2010

Stiffener! Buxton & the Goyt Valley

After three weeks without a walk, Sue & I were out of practice!
I suppose a lesser walk would have been a good choice, but I think we needed
a bloody good tester to shake us up. Anyway, we had a good day to do it, weather wise,
so I decided to head for the open moors, starting at Buxton - a place we both love.
The walk was just over 12 miles, but with about 2500 feet of ascent, it was a tough
opener for us - a real 'stiffener'!
We left Buxton (Aqvae Anrnemetiae to the Romans) by the Roman road.
The road was closed to traffic for repairs to the supporting wall.
We were left with a lovely traffic-free walk onto the moors.
This is the Roman road up onto, and over, them.
Like most Roman roads, it was like an arrow, straight and true.
On these roads, I ALWAYS think it's really weird that I am walking in the steps
of centurions. It really does freak me out. If ONLY we could invent some
kind of 'play back' facility for time - what stories these roads could tell!
Moss house farm - what a remote place to live.
On the horizon, we could see a blip that was the Cat & Fiddle inn.
We'd be passing very close to this later on in the day.
(click the photo for a larger version).
We were SO glad it was a nice day for our return to walking. It was
cool, but very bright and one of those 'good to be alive' days.
The edge over the fields is Combs Edge.
As we crested the brow, we caught our first glimpse of Fernilee reservoir
& the Goyt Valley. This springy, green path was a delight to walk on.
Soon, we could also see Errwood reservoir.
The walk down into the valley held some lovely little nooks and crannies
with this tumbling stream just one of them.
We reached the bottom of the valley and crossed
the dam between the two reservoirs.
This new mum had her work cut out with ELEVEN chicks.
Mind you, we've seen a duck in Bakewell with fifteen!
With spring coming at least three weeks late this year,
the trees were still looking very stark in the warm sunshine.
Although bare, this wood was really lovely.
See the moss on the walls? It was so soft and warm to the touch.
We started the long climb out of the valley, with a look back to the dam.
Soon, we were up on Cats Tor and yes, I decided to brave it today
and give my shorts their first outing this year.
The stiff breeze was very cool though, so the top coat was a must.
Looking back as we walked along the edge, we could see
windgather rocks in the middle distance.
The grouse would now be breeding targets for the guns. These strange
patterns in the heather can be seen on most shooting estates.
They are for the young birds. They like to eat the young
shoots, so the keepers burn or cut back the old heather in these weird patterns.
The reason, I am told, is that grouse don't like being in the open, so they
only cut the heather back in blocks so the birds can nip out, feed, then
nip back into cover again.
This path along Cats Tor used to be a bog!
Walking it after rain was a real problem. Now,
they have done this superb repair work and the path
beside the stones has recovered almost fully.
You can see just how far it stretches on this look back.
In what seemed like no time at all, we had reached the trig' point
at Shining Tor. Sue made me pose for this photograph.
There's a really super view from here.
Now we started to lose height again as we dropped down
towards Goyts Clough quarry.
Now we could see Errwood to our left,
this would be our last sight of it.
We dropped into the clough and crossed the stream by this delightful old
packhorse bridge, called Goyts bridge.
Again, lots of little treasures for us in the form of hidden
streams and ideal picnic spots. We had already eaten our
picnic under a tree in the Goyt valley though.
As we topped the next hill just outside Buxton, we could
see the folly 'Solomons temple' on the hillside opposite.
On the final drop into the town, we saw these pussy willows.
A SURE sign of spring!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Arran,final part, the seals.

After the delights of Holy Island, I realised we had plenty of
time to go to Kildonan, known as the seal shore. The seals LOVE to
come ashore and bask on the rocks. No-one knows why, but the
place is famous. IF the conditions are right (tide, water etc) it
can be a REAL treat. Guess what? Yep - conditions were JUST
right for us!

Our first view as we topped the cliffs - and this was just a taster!
Ailsa Craig (left) and Pladda Island (right)

After we had driven to where we parked,
the view was 'reversed' with
Ailsa craig now on the right.

Ailsa Craig really is a haunting place.
They do rib boat trips from Kildonan, that's those fast boats
that inshore lifeboats often use. They run out to Ailsa Craig, and
if the conditions are right, they will land you on the island.
It's not cheap at £45pp, but we might just give it a go next time.

Stare at this picture (left click for a large version)
I think this is SO 'drawing' to the eye.

We were surprised to see this lovely seat, complete with verse,
on the beach near 'seal shore'. A great place to sit and look.

That bright bit of cloud above Pladda lighthouse really makes this shot come alive.

We walked along the quiet stretch of beach towards where
we were told the seals were. The sea was again flat calm,
and we could hear the curlews and oyster catchers
calling, calling, calling.

As we walked, Sue suddenly saw the first seal.
Then, as we looked, we saw more and more!
There were little heads popping up out of
the water all over the place.

So, we sat, and watched,and waited, and saw them.

I HAD to get closer - would they let me or would they flee?

No problem! We christened the white one 'Sammy'.
He was really cute, and had a lovely face.

It wasn't at all cold, so we spent all evening watching the seals
and listening to the birds calling.
A look to the right saw the sun starting it's journey down.
We knew now what was coming, so we just waited, and watched.

The sky began turning that familiar red, and a warm, calming glow spread across the sky.
I really can't convey just how peaceful and theraputic this kind of evening is.

Dark headlands, and crimson skies - sighhhhhhhh.

Every minute that passed, a different colour or hue was revealed to us.

We left Kildonan very happy and contented. We'd seen the seals
and sunset at their best. Now, we had one night left on this lovely,
magical island before it was time for us to return home to
Derbyshire. We knew, we had been SO lucky with the weather
and conditions in general.

When we got up this morning, we looked out of the window
to watch the red squirrel taking nuts, and noticed something
else - the pond below was FULL of frogspawn!!
Kath said she'd seen about 16 frogs in there the night
before, and this was what they'd been up to in the night :-)
This meant spring really WAS sprung - official.

Now our holiday was coming to an end, so we reluctantly packed
our things, said our goodbyes and made our way to the ferry
and the long drive back to Bakewell.

As a parting gift, Arran gave us this final, beautiful, ethereal view of her.

How can we resist?
We'll be back.