Friday, 15 May 2015

Mills and dales

Today, we managed to get away a little earlier than of late, and were walking by 11:30. It was given as 'changeable' today, but the sky looked good and settled as we parked up at Monsal head to take a few pictures of the rape fields, absolutely perfect right now.

We then drove down Monsal dale to Cressbrook mill, where we left the car to start the walk.
The mill was derelict for years, but is now fully occupied. I have heard stories that the rooms are notoriously bad to heat, being so high. Also, they get precious little sunshine, especially in winter. Judging by the raft of 'for sale/to let' signs, a lot of people wanted out!
You can read up on it HERE

The quirky building next to the mill, a 'brew stop' which is only open at weekends.

Plenty of water coming over the weir today.
We'll be returning by the path under those limestone walls later today.

We climbed out of water cum jolly dale, and started up on the 'alpine path' above, so called because it's very like the ones in Europe that traverse mountains.
Maybe a bit of a grand title, but you DO have to take great care, as the drop down into the dale from the path is steep and only ends at the river! 

Bluebells growing out in the open is more unusual than seeing them in their natural habitat - woods - but these were plentiful on the slopes.

This is the part where you DON'T take your eyes off the path!

Looking back, you can trace the alpine path on the flanks of that hillside (and see your fate, should you slip). The track below is the bed of the old Monsal trail, now re-opened. This bit is a very small section of only a couple of hundred yards between two tunnels.

Lots of orchids too, and some really good bunches.

Iffy part done, we could now relax and continue.

Our second mill of the day - Litton mill.
You can read up on it HERE

It was time to drop down into Millers dale to get across the river and make our way to our next dale - Tideswell. The walk down through the dappled light and VERY green path was a joy.

When we reached the bottom, the sun was really strong, with no breeze to cool us down here. We stopped to look at the trout lazily swimming at a standstill, waiting for food to come to them. Also, LOTS of butterflies. There were all the usual ones, but we also saw many orange tips (I love these), and a yellow brimstone. Butterflies are really hard to photograph in flight. This is the best I could do (if you click on it, you'll see a larger version). I got them both in the frame, but they are blurred in flight :-(

After a short amble along Millers dale, we turned up Tideswell dale and started to climb again, with the babbling sound of the stream on our left.

Last time we were here, there were HUGE amounts of snow. If you missed those pictures, and would like to see them, they are HERE
Today, it was all sunshine and flowers!

What's this? A HUGE mouse, or vole?

One of the sculptures done in wood in the dale.

We climbed out of Tideswell dale and, just before Tideswell, turned right and climbed up and out of Litton dale to go over the top fields, skirting Litton village, to make our way towards Tansley dale.

We dropped down that dale, into the huge Cressbrook dale, then followed the river.
The wild garlic was (again) not out for us yet, but you can see just how carpeted this dale bottom is with the plant.

Just the odd bunch was flowering.

  Bluebells here too, obvious by their wonderful perfume.

At a small bridge, just before Ravenstor, we climbed again up and out of the lower dale.
We reached the road to Cressbrook village, and passed through. It just remained for us to drop back down into Millers dale bottom, to walk along water cum jolly dale to return to the car.

Looking across to where we were this morning, you can just see the Monsal head hotel through the gap in the trees.

Sue, on the grassy track down to Millers dale.

....and yours truly.

More orchids, with the buildings of Litton mill behind.

A stone chimney, a remnant of the mill, still stands on the hillside.

Absolutely CHAMPION campion!

A moorhen sits patiently on her eggs in water cum jolly dale..

The limestone buttresses of water cum jolly dale-  a magnet for climbers.

The peaceful slack above the mill weir.

Then it was back to the car, with a stop at Monsal head to take this final shot of the evening sky over Longstone moors.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


Why 'twirleys'?? Well, someone who worked on the buses once told me they called pensioners 'twirleys'. When asked why, he said that their bus passes were only valid for AFTER 10:00AM, but they often tried to board earlier buses. He said they'd show their pass, and utter the words; 

So, our aim was to see the wild garlic in all it's splendour in Great Shacklow woods. We'd seen the odd clump locally that was into flower, so we parked in Ashford in the Water to to begin our walk.

As always, a stop to take a shot of the photogenic sheep wash bridge.

 The swan thought there might be a chance of food from these passing walkers, and so drove the hungry ducks away, but he was left wanting - we hadn't got anything for him.

We crossed the A6 and took the turn left signed to Sheldon. Very shortly after, we left the road and joined the river Wye. First thing we noticed was the abundance of Marsh Marigold here.

Ahead was our goal - Great Shacklow woods. 

The path left the river at the site of the old mill, now a sad derelict thing.
I really AM surprised this place hasn't been done up as a dwelling. Maybe it's listed and can't be, I don't know.

Excitement - the first bunch of Ramsons (wild garlic) we saw was in flower!

But our joy was short-lived, as the main carpet of plants was still only in bud. The smell was still amazing, but, apart from the odd renegade, all the buds were closed.
So - we were 'Twirleys' :-)

Sue's favourite (or, one of them), the Wood Sorrel, was in full flower, and also in abundance along the path as we climbed, then dropped into and out of Great Shacklow woods.

We made our way towards our next goal, Deep dale. Again, in great hope of seeing the early purple orchids and cowslips this dale is famous for. Eagle-eyed Sue spotted this unusual black rabbit in the undergrowth.
We wondered about it's colour, was it a domestic escapee?
(Click on the picture to enlarge)

As we entered the mouth of the dale, we saw our first cowslips.

The orchids too - we were NOT to be disappointed in this area!

Superb blooms all around, and really at their best right now.

The weather, as predicted, took a turn for the worst as we made our way across the fields towards Sheldon. We'd had a couple of very light showers as we walked up Deep dale, but this was much heavier, and we got a good soaking.

When we reached the village, the sun was back out, and a strong breeze was drying us out quickly, so we decided to go off-route to visit Magpie mine. A 16th century mine with a VERY chequered past! You can read about it if you CLICK HERE

Now then, it's like a smorgasbord here - should we have the turkey, or the lamb?

They took a dislike to us, and 'saw us off'.

A short walk across the fields brought us to the mine, always an impressive sight in any weather. Brooding when the skies are dark, almost menacing, but a thing of beauty in blue skies.

Here, in the heavily-leaded spoils, you can see wild pansies, and at the right time of the year, leadwort.

The old crushing wheels and other detritus from the era of working lay all around.

Looking back to the mine as the skies start to clear.

Sue strides out to explore further.

Pansy faces smile in the warming sunshine.

The old ore-lifting apparatus.

 This is what's known as a 'horse gin', which was used to raise the lead ore to the surface.

After a good half-hour exploring, we left the mine to go back to Sheldon.

The sky now really clearing made for super-clear pictures.

As always, the white of the limestone walls looked great with the blue sky backdrop.

I always marvel at the man-hours that went into the building of these many walls.

A small clump of forget-me-not caught my eye.

At Lower farm, we saw this woolly faced sheep. Not sure of the breed, but it really reminded me of the sheep dog in the 'wily coyote' Disney cartoons!

We dropped into Little Shacklow woods, and the next carpet of garlic - still not out.

Yes, it was shorts weather! Well, not quite maybe today, but I was feeling hardy.

We slithered and slipped as we dropped back down to the Wye, and re-traced our steps back to Ashford.