Saturday, 22 December 2012

Of millstones and men.

With the (hollow) promise of some sunshine today, we decided to head for the hills and edges, as most of the dales were a quagmire after the recent rains. I wanted to take some pictures of the many millstones that we knew were below Stanage edge, so we parked at Burbage bridge, and headed towards a dull & forbidding looking Stanage.

Please remember, to get a larger version of any photo, click on it.

Almost at once, the moorland call of ‘GO BACK, GO BACK’ was heard from the ubiquitous grouse.
You can hear the call here; just click on ‘audio’.

 We soon climbed to High Neb trig’ point. Both Sue and I think it’s really sad that the Ordnance Survey no longer paint these icons of high places. I’m SURE volunteers would do it (me included) to keep the white beacons shining. On a sunny day, they used to be SO visible, but in this drab, green garb they can be easily missed.

I quickly spotted our first cache of abandoned millstones just below the edge. These, like many others, look finished, but abandoned.
You can read up more about them here;

 I've walked here many times, but usually attracted to the top of the edge, so I’d never noticed this before, not only stones, but a part-finished trough!

This, too, took our attention. This really does look like someone has brick-supported this huge boulder, but it is, in fact, completely natural. We saw a few other examples of this, but this was by far the best.

It was pretty cold today, not frosty, but not far off. We could see snow settled in the gullies of Kinder Scout & the wind was sharp enough to warrant wearing a headband and gloves. However, these hardy souls were not put off, and were tackling the rock head on.

Looking along the length of Stanage, always an awesome sight.
 The Castleton skyline peeps over Bamford edge. The reservoirs of Ladybower are hidden by the edge, nestling in the valley below.

 Looking back. We dropped down the old road, and continued under the edge, searching for more ‘gritstone graveyards’.
 It wasn’t long before the first ‘victims’ came into view. Lots are like this, looking like all they lacked was horsepower to take them away down the hill to a waiting mill.

  A huge, domed stone lies in the bracken.

Many, many more suffer the same cold fate, slowly being colonised by the lichen.

 “Give us a lift with this, will you”.

 A complete rack. How much muscle and sweat was wasted on these stones? One or more men must have been absolutely heartbroken to know their hard graft had all been in vane.
The better quality French stones decimated the English trade, almost overnight, in one fell swoop.

Destined to spend the rest of their years looking silently up at the edge that spawned them

 Fallen victims of the stone wars. 

 All the way down the hill, stone after stone lies abandoned.

 A lot of pictures of stones, I know, but they really do make you feel sad when you see so many.
 At least they have a cracking view over their shoulder. Win hill, Lose hill and Mam tor, with Kinder Scout to the right.

Time for lunch with the edge stretched out behind us. Some people have fancy canteens and restaurants to eat their lunch – we wouldn't swap THIS location for ANY of theirs.
 The stark, cold rock of Stanage edge. Without sunlight to soften it, this is one harsh place to be, but somehow beautiful.
 The only sign of the sun we saw all day – the last rays peeking out from under a heavy sky. Fingers of gold. 

A short eight miles saw us back at the car just in time. We have to steal every moment at this time of the year with days being so short, and today, we felt like we’d had a good one even though there was no sunshine to speak of. We went home happy souls to settle into a hot bath, and a hearty dinner.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Dove love.

It’s rare we go to Dovedale, unless three boxes are ticked it’s out of season (i.e. not summer), it’s very cold, and it’s NOT a weekend - this reduces the crowds considerably. So, all boxes ticked, we set off for one of Derbyshire’s greatest honeypots. On the way, we passed through Milldale. This is an early morning shot of the viators bridge.
Please remember, you can click on any of the pictures for a larger version, and slide show.
 I decided to park in the hamlet, or village (not sure where one ends, and the other begins) of Ilam, famous for it's stone cross atop the monument in the centre. This has recently been restored to former glory, and has a shining, gold cross on top of it.
 The houses here are decidedly ‘Swiss chalet’ (by design), and are really easy on the eye (if a little alien). You can read more about Ilam here;,_Staffordshire

We left the village and set off across the frozen fields. The ground had been very muddy, but these low temperatures had stiffened it into a walkable hard crust, and for that, we were very grateful!

 I think these ruts have been caused by many years of farming. The water of late (of which we’ve had plenty) had settled into the hollows and frozen hard.

Interestingly, you can see here the furrows in the foreground run left to right, but then change to up and down? These are the result of medieval farming techniques. 

I have NO idea who or why this was put here, or what it represents.
I found a use for it though.......

I call this; ‘Moaner Lisa’ ;-)

 This part of the Manifold river is usually submerged, re-surfacing at Ilam but, with the amount of rain recently, it was in full flow. It was so still today, the surface was like a mirror. 

 And the iced puddles made some beautiful patterns.

A lone lightning tree stands stark against the flawless blue sky.

We puffed up the climb to Castern hall. Even though it was below freezing, our efforts made us glow! This is the impressive hall. There's some reading here;

Is this what they mean on the weather forecast when they say ‘cold trough moving in’?

The ground was frozen, but wherever the sun kissed it, it became green again.

Galloway Belties near Damgate farm.

In Yorkshire, there was a program of restoring old barns and it was very successful. They are a special part of the landscape. Here, one looks like it’s been saved from collapse, and is awaiting further ‘TLC’.

At the top of Hall dale, we were intending to turn right and walk down it. After investigating this old Lime kiln, which was in super condition, Sue saw that we could drop into Hall dale via a very steep, innominate side dale. It was obvious by tracks that others had done the same, so we set off down.

A little, frozen snail on a leaf platter.

Tree shadows on the opposite side of the dale - the sunny side!
 You can see how the dale drops away suddenly. We knew it would be like this, as the contours were almost touching on the map. The fact it was also as icy as it was, made the walk down it ‘interesting’.

 Frozen cow parsley, always so beautiful at this time of the year.

After our scramble down, with no incidents or accidents, we reached the river Dove. So far we hadn't seen ANY other walkers.

Now, this man’s got stile!

The jutting finger of Pickering tor (left) and the flanks of Ilam rock (right). We crossed this bridge and saw our first other walker. See – I TOLD you it gets crowded in Dovedale!

A plane streaks out from behind Pickering tor. With this kind of clarity, it must be fantastic looking down today. 

A cave at the base of Pickering tor.

A very frosty Dovedale – JUST how we like it.

So peaceful here today, even the Heron was having a disturbance-free fishing party (until we turned up).

 Reynards cave, an arch that used to be a cave, but the top has caved in at some point in the past.
You can read about a lot of the features in Dovedale here;

A cold mist rises from the surface of the water, ethereal and eerie.

We found a seat on top of Lovers leap and decided it was a good place to have our hot soup and brandy-laced coffee. Sometimes I surprise Sue with a flask of mulled wine at this time of the year. As soon as we were seated, this cheeky chappy flew down and sat on the end of the bench just two feet from me.

After a quick lunch (it was too cold to sit around) we set off down the other side of the promontory. These steps are COVERED in fossils. I don’t know if it’s deliberate or not, but they are just incredible. You could spend ages looking at the various ones. This was just one step.

Very soon we reached the iconic stepping stones, which had recently been ‘topped off’ in an effort to make them flat . This was done to much opposition and controversy.
The big hill is Thorpe Cloud, a super vantage point that only takes ten minutes to climb, but with the sun already setting, we didn't have any spare time to do it today.

 The stepping stones were quite icy, and after watching this guy almost slip off, we decided against crossing them today.

Looking down lower Dovedale in the waning sunlight.

And looking back up.

 We only had about a mile to go now, just as well, as the sun dipped over the horizon.

 ......and then, it was gone!

Looking back to Thorpe Cloud, almost a silhouette now. I REALLY love this scene in the soft, evening light.

We soon reached a cold Ilam again, and I took this shot of their stone bridge, like a smaller version of our bridge in Bakewell.

  As the light faded fast, we looked up, and saw the restored gold cross standing out, almost glowing, in the evening sky.