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;


  1. I did a lot of this route yesterday and the wildflower meadows were lovely.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. Last time we were at Peter's Stone I think we had just missed the orchids, I was wondering recently if they were flowering yet and now I know.

    I have fond memories of Tideswell and Miller's Dale from my childhood and I love Monk's Dale, even if it isn't the easiest of places to walk!

  3. BEST time of the year, Lee. Not too hot, and green as it gets!

    Louise, it's a lovely area, I was amazed that the mills went as far back as 1086 in Millers dale!!!