Friday, 28 May 2010

Deep Dale - deep joy!

Weather-wise, we were really on a roll! This was the latest of several walks in good weather
(VERY good today). We had been up to Monsal head the previous night, and could
see a lovely field of yellow rapeseed. I decided to configure today's walk to pass the field
for some pictures.
We began the walk in Ashford-in-the-Water, just 10 minutes from where we live.
The water level, sky and foliage was at its best, so a ubiquitous picture
of the sheepwash bridge was in order.

It's well-dressing season, and we spotted this. It's the frame they use to hold
the clay, into which they press all the decorations for the well-dressing.
It has to be wet, the wetter the better, so here it was, anchored down
by some very hefty looking rocks, and tethered to the bridge for extra security.
The trees look fabulous now. The green is just SO vibrant.
Against the backdrop of this sky, I could have taken a picture of them all!
Soon, we'd climbed the steep hill out of Ashford, and looked back on this scene.
As we topped the rise, a wave of perfume from the rape fields overwhelmed us.
We commented on how awful it must be to have hay fever, and for this
to be hell, instead of heaven, which it was for us.
Here's the provider of the lovely smell.

I took a lot of pictures of this, because it was just SO perfect.
Our timing couldn't have been better for the flowers.

They say 'one swallow doesn't make a summer', but
today REALLY felt like summer.
The dandelions were starting to go to seed.
We followed a short section of road, before turning up a track towards the Magpie mine.
Usually, Sheldon village would act as a magnet, but today we passed it by.
This is Sheldon, looking across the fields.
Tracks like this MAKE early summer for us.
These flowers smell strongly of aniseed.
The Magpie mine.

The short walk across the fields to the mine revealed THOUSANDS of
the beautiful mountain pansy. There were lots of cowslips too.

After the Magpie, we strode on to our lunch stop, the village of Monyash (which
means 'place of many ashes').
It has this weird phone box in a walled enclosure........WHY??????
After lunch on the village green, we left
Monyash via this flowery stile
The fields were a blaze of colour, mainly yellow from the MILLIONS
of dandelions. We'd heard that it was a record year
for them, as the conditions have been perfect.
Sue commented that they would soon all be 'clocks',
and the air would be full of their seed. just climb over them, mate!
We crossed the fields, and entered the top of Deep dale.
This, I KNEW, was a special place for cowslips and orchids.
Even if it wasn't, how beautiful does it look today?
This was the scene that greeted us. We'd seen great numbers of both these flowers
on previous walks, but today they really were in abundance.
Look behind these orchids - a SEA of cowslips!
Sue was just OVERCOME by the scent (I think)

The things I do for the shot!

Worth it though, this is one of the best specimens I've ever seen.

We had a small disappointment as we walked back to Ashford via Great Shacklow woods,
the wild garlic (ramson) was at least a week behind, and was not in flower yet.
We'd have to try and visit again next week. I hope you've enjoyed this weeks ramble,

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Manifold delights

This week (after double checking I'd remembered to put my boots in the car) we set of for the Manifold valley, on a clear, cool morning.
Perfect for walking, and of course, I wore shorts!
We parked up at Wetton Mill (free parking) and crossed the bridge to
walk up the dale towards 'sugarloaf', a limestone promontory at the top.
This is the view from the bridge over the river Manifold.

They say that kissing is out of fashion, when gorse is out of flower.
This just tells you that gorse flowers for a LONG season, but
at this time of the year, it's at its best.
The Manifold valley is a particularly good place to see gorse,
as it carpets the valley sides.
Looking back down the dale that leads up to sugarloaf.
Beautiful, clear blue skies and fluffy clouds.

As we climbed up the dale, we turned left and walked over
the top of Ecton to be greeted with this wonderful view of upper Dovedale.
Looking across to Warslow.
The gorse was the yellowest I could ever remember.
As we dropped down to Ecton bridge, we saw this very unusual
set of garden furniture - carved from wood.
We also saw some fabulous Primula.

There was even a small rhododendron flower out.
VERY early for these.
Some of the hawthorn was beginning to flower as well.

In Derbyshire, there are MANY ruined barns.
I think we should do what Yorkshire is doing,
and restore a lot of them. They look SO sad in this state.

Ladies smock flower.
Someone at Warslow (a small village) has a sense of humour!
Although there was a cool breeze today, the lambs still sought shelter
from the sun, under the trees. Of course, mum was there to watch over them.
I think this is the wood sorrel.
We climbed steeply out of the valley, and up to Butterton. This is the village pub,
the 'Black Lion'. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't open so we sat on a bench
beside the church and ate our butties in the sun.
Lots of dandelions lined the roadside.
I know they're 'just a weed', but I love to see them.
If they were hard to grow, they'd be prized!

The lovely old ford at Butterton.
Not much water in it today, though.
Gunnera. The leaves of this plant are the giant green 'rhubarb' looking things
that carpet the riverbanks later on.
We left Butterton and followed Hoo brook all
the way down the valley, though 'waterslacks',
and back to Wetton mill.
We arrived back at the car in good time for a pot of tea
in the cafe, served by a decidedly surly lady!