Thursday, 20 June 2013

Garlic & Orchids, cathedrals and monks.

Again, the weather man gets it wrong! Today was supposed to be white cloud & overcast all day, with maybe some showers later. We woke to a glorious, sunny summer morning! Although we started a little late, the beginning of the walk was only about 15 minutes drive from home. We parked up in a small lay-by next to Cressbrook mill. This walk is just on ten miles, with about 2,000 feet of ascent.
We were glad of the tree cover as we plodded uphill towards Ravens dale. Small patches of garlic wafted their scent to us as we walked. Then there was more...... and more..... the air now VERY heavy with the smell, which we love. It was intermingled with the many flowers now at their best, plus the hawthorn blossom. This walk was chosen deliberately to see the garlic and hopefully later on, the wild orchids which flourish in Cressbrook dale.

You can use the young leaves of wild garlic (Ramson) to cook.
Fish is particularly good when wrapped in the leaves and steamed.

The towering face of Ravenstor.
A monolith that looks down on the dale, and a favourite with climbers. Sue & I have stood on the top, and the view is awesome.

Ravenstor holiday cottages.

A welcome tap to fill water bottles, complete with old stone trough for your dog to slake his thirst too.

More and more garlic as we head towards Cressbrook dale. Again, VERY sunny above, so the shade of the trees was comfortable to walk in.
 You can join me, walking through masses of wild garlic in Cressbrook dale, click here;

After the lower part of the dale, things open up to the expanse of sky and greenery that is Cressbrook dale. Buttercups now replaced the garlic as the dominant species.

Cressbrook dale, with Tansley dale just visible on the left.

Hard to capture, small, brown butterflies were dancing so fast.
I caught this pair doing a bit of courting!

Lots of little Bird's foot trefoil flowers here too, standing their ground with the buttercups and orchids.


But here’s the star of the show, and the reason we came – carpets of orchids.

My favourite, iconic shot – a proud orchid with peter Stone in the background.

Peter stone lies unseen by SO many people, and yet, it’s just a five minute easy walk from a main road!
Here, you can see it’s JUST around the corner, yet SO close to the road.
This map is scale 1:25,000,

At the end of Cressbrook dale, we turned left and climbed steeply in the hot sunshine to the small village of Litton. We came across two friends who were eating outside the village pub. With the quiet, the village green, and the warm sun, is was the perfect place to be. We chatted for a while, and then headed on to our next goal (and our own lunch stop) – Tideswell, and the ‘Cathedral of the peak’, as it’s church is known.
We passed some stunning wild flower meadows.

Litton, through the buttercups, with Litton edge (left).

It makes you just want to get down amongst them, and roll around!

Sue and I LOVE lane-walking at this time of the year. I can’t describe the scent of all this flora – amazing!

Set in a dip, Tideswell ‘surprises’ you, as it only comes into view when you're literally on top of it.
The famous church tower is first to peep over at you.

The breath-taking interior.

 After a pleasant lunch on a bench in Tideswell, watching the world go by and eating a salad with a beautiful fresh loaf from the local bakers, we set off into the fields, making for the Limestone way.

The fields have now been stripped of their grass for silage,and were being re-fertilised.
It’s one thing Sue & I don’t agree on – she loves the smell, and I HATE it :-)

Another superb, summer lane for us to walk down. The Limestone way takes the high ground, but we followed this quiet road to drop to the top of Monks dale, part of the Derbyshire national nature reserve.

Monks dale. NOT an easy dale to negotiate, as it’s undulating damp rocks can be treacherous. You have to look where you're going at all times. Always good to stop and take in the surroundings though.
This has to be one of the ‘mossiest’ walls I've ever seen. The ubiquitous garlic looks well beneath it too.

And, on fallen trees, amazing little plants and fungi.
This clump of clover caught my eye.

We walked to the end of the dale, then climbed up and over towards Millers dale.
We crossed the stream to leave Monks dale by a new bridge, but could see evidence of the old, now defunct, way of crossing. A meandering set of stepping stones.

Millers dale. A mill has been recorded here as far back as the Domesday book in 1086, now THAT’S history!
They ground grain for flour, and also animal feed. This mill, and another close by, was run by one of two brothers. After they died these, and many other, mills ran into disrepair, due to the new steam-powered mills coming online.

We stood on the lovely bridge that crosses the river Wye in Millers dale. The sense of peace and tranquillity here is tangible. No words are needed, it just gets into your soul.
After a while, we began the steep climb up to the Monsal trail. We walked along it until we reached the first tunnel. Instead of going into it, we left the trail and climbed onto the ‘alpine path’, as it’s known locally. This is one of our favourites, and gives a commanding view over the lower dales. This is a very green and verdant Water cum Jolly dale.
The path curves around that lump ahead. Not for the faint-hearted, if you stumbled and fell, you could end up in the river, far below!

One of the rose family, I think – so simple, and yet so incredibly beautiful.

Cressbrook hall above water cum jolly dale.

The car was down in the bottom of this valley, so a quick drop down, over the bridge, and we were back at the start again.
You can take a walk across the mill race bridge in Water cum Jolly dale with me, click here;

Friday, 14 June 2013

I want MOOR!

Today we decided to go somewhere we hadn't visited for a long while – Lady clough (below Kinder Scout). We parked up at Birchen clough, where I started one of the hardest walks in the book when I first started walking. The walk was called ‘around Bleaklow’, and was written by John Merrill. It was about 24 miles long, and across mostly open moorland. The path from this car park to begin that walk went straight up, VERY steeply.
Mercifully, today we were taking a different path. We crossed the Snake road, notorious for always being one of the first to be closed when the snows come, and dropped into Lady Clough woods.
This place is peace personified. Apart from the odd vehicle noise above us, it was quiet. A lot of sound is absorbed by the trees and carpet of needles on the ground.

Every now and then, there was a clearing which was greened up fully, at this time of the year. It was drizzling steadily, but the canopy of firs protected us.

Lady Clough river.

Where we parked up, we could see and hear forest workers. It was obviously time to harvest the trees in the area, and they were going about their task with devastating results! We could smell the tang of wood sap in the air, and kept seeing these swathes of cleared woodland. The terrain looked VERY steep and unforgiving, but the machines were designed for it, and took it in their stride as they decimated the forest.

But here by the river – peace.

We left the woodland and walked in the open air by the river. The rain was really light now, and although we had waterproof coats on, we didn’t need to wear the trousers.
Above us, traffic hummed on the snake pass. One feature of this part of the walk was the various parts of cars we saw in the bottom here. It was obvious that several vehicles had left the road and tumbled down to the river. You’d think that people would drive accordingly on this road. I mean, the name ‘snake’ sort of TELLS you it’s going to be twisty.

They play with the snake at their peril!

Looking back along the snake pass. You can see how it would succumb quite quickly to bad weather conditions.
A nightmare to navigate.

Doctor’s gate, where the Pennine way crosses the Snake pass. Today, it was a very murky and damp vista.

7,000 years old!

In latter years, the Pennine way has had to be paved, due to bad erosion of the peat. There were many against this move, but I think there was really no choice. Walking, as a hobby, was exploding, and many, many feet were taking to the moors. Looking at it now, I think it blends in well. The slabs are the countless bits of old mill floors. I never realised that there were quite so MANY old mills!

The path across the lovely-named ‘featherbed moss’ (of which there are many in the Dark peak area).

This was the sort of terrain you would have faced before the paving.

Before long, we reached a crossing of paths at Mill hill. We could see an unforbidding-looking Southern edge of Kinder Scout. Seeing it like this, I was glad we weren't going up there today.

We followed the path towards it, then took a sharp left to go down the Snake path and Ashop clough.
Oh look – enough blue sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers!

We could see Kinder reservoir to our right (but only just).

Three fingers of rock jut on the western edge of Kinder.

The bracken was galloping on and unfurling as quick as it could.
Soon, the landscape would be green with it’s fractal fronds

We sat in the shelter of an old ruin for lunch. Sue was amazed when she spotted this little eight-wheeled vehicle coming down a track opposite us.

Now I would NOT fancy a ride in that on the precarious path they were coming down.

Our abode for lunch.

We walked further down Ashop clough, and could see the forest was ahead once more.

GOT to wear shorts – it’s SUMMER (they tell me).

Again, masses of felled trees here. 

I tried to count to rings on one of the logs, and would ‘guesstimate’ they were between 40 and 50 years old.

Waterfalls in Ashop clough. This was a really pleasant spot and I wished I’d waited for lunch now, having seen it.

The last bridge before we climbed back up to the car.
Not a prefect day for pictures, but we really enjoyed ourselves, as it was the first walk for three weeks.