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;
"AM I TOO'EARLY?
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.