Monday, 15 June 2015

Buxton & the Goyt valley

Well, the Gods were certainly smiling on Sue & I - TWO consecutive Tuesdays with perfect walking weather, even more so this week! We were joined by one of Sue's son John, so I decided to take us to the Goyt valley, and take in the ruins of Errwood hall.

We met and parked up on the outskirts of Buxton, with the sun already hot, we headed off - 'uppard's'

We were soon onto the high ground, with stunning panoramas over the surrounding landscape of the Goyt valley.

A pleasant walk along the Roman road, discussing a recent program on TV that exposed just how clever they were. We knew they were clever, but not just HOW clever - brilliant, in fact!
You can watch the program here;
(NB - this is on i Player, so not sure how long the link will work for)

You can see a video of the view HERE

Following the Midshires way, we continued over Combs Moss until the reservoirs appeared before us. Our head navigator for the day (Sue) managed to get us slightly lost at this point, but an enjoyable walk through meadows full of flowers found an easy route to the Fernilee reservoir edge.
As you can see, it started to cloud over a little, but no rain (so far).

Lots of bluebells still in evidence as we dropped through the fields.

We hit the reservoir and turned left, making our way towards the Errwood reservoir dam.
We walked below the dam, and climbed up to the top.

A rare sight, Errwood was full to the brim today.

A veritable forest of bracken was unfolding, ready to take over the exposed ground.

Pine cones were growing too, readying their seeds for later in the year.

We turned off the reservoir-side road in the direction of the Errwood hall ruins (up!), crossing this small bridge

Banks of bluebells surrounded us.

We rounded a corner to be confronted the sad remains of the impressive Errwood hall.
Just a sad facade is all that's left now.
You can read all about it's fascinating history HERE

A grand building, in its heyday.

They even had their own graveyard, where master and servant alike were buried.

The doorway, or what's left of it.

The family crest - set in stone.

After exploring the grounds, and telling John the story, we re-joined the walk.
A lovely surprise (if you don't know it's there) is this very well preserved packhorse bridge, with the familiar very low walls, to allow the horses to pass without catching the packs on their backs.
We dropped down and crossed it, then started the climb back up to the high moors towards Buxton.

This large, green beetle was scurrying underfoot.

As is typical of these moorland walks, vast panoramas all around.
We could see the patterns of heather burning.

Angry skies formed a dramatic backdrop to the Cat & Fiddle inn, once part of the Errwood hall estate.

LOADS of bog cotton, waving in the wind.

I managed to capture this orange tip butterfly, one of my favourites.

One more flush of fabulous flowered meadows as we lost height and left the moors, before walking the last mile or so on Tarmac, back to our cars in the middle of Buxton.

We'd again managed to dodge the rain, and although cool today, we were not complaining at the weather we had.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Elton, Gratton & long dale.

Another two week stint at the cafe, and we were praying that our walk would be in good weather. Well, it was just about perfect. VERY windy (but helped to blow the cobwebs away). 

You can see a video of the windy trees around Elton church HERE

I decided to start the walk from the quiet village of Elton. We'd not been here for a number of years, so we were looking forward to re-acquainting ourselves with the area.

The  route, 8.5 miles, 12,000 feet of up and down.

Across the road from where we parked is the local pub, the Duke of York. As far back as I can remember, this place has been run single-handed by a lovely old lady named Mary. Whether she is still there, I don't know. It was our intention to call in for a beer later on after the walk, if they were open.

This fabulous old barn, with foot-worn steps, is at the side of the pub.

I wish I had a pound for every footstep that passed up these.

 I recalled there are some very well preserved pigsties at the rear of the pub, so I took Sue round for a look.

Then, it was time to start the walk proper. Off into the heart-lifting summer meadows we went, passing Oddo house farm & revelling in the amount and huge numbers of wild flowers now at their best.
Buttercups and daisies vied for starring roles in pictures.

Big, pink heads of clover were juxtaposed (21 points in Scrabble for that word) with a bright yellow buttercup.

We reached the beginning of Gratton dale, with it's preserved lime kiln (hard to see now, with all the summer growth).

Deep breaths of pungent,spring scented  air, and we started the walk up Gratton dale. 
This is a steep-sided dale, but far from being claustrophobic, gives a real sense of the great outdoors.

May blossom, another at its best.

Almost like a brides bouquet!

We steadily gained height and broke out into more open sided terrain.
This is looking back down the dale. At this point, we saw a hunting kestrel, hovering and diving into the grass.

Gorse - of course!

Sue, through the cowslips.

Although JUST past their best, these dale sides were covered in a carpet of cowslips, mixed with orchids and the occasional patch of bluebells.

At the top of Gratton dale, we took a sharp right into Long dale.
Looking back, you can see why it's not a misnomer!

As I said earlier - almost PERFECT conditions.

A line of egg and bacon plant, with a few forget-me-nots thrown in for diversity.

Millennium marker stones, one of 18 in total, stand in the corner of a walled niche.
For more information, click HERE

Climbing to the top of the dale now, as it opens up even more.

I saw this stone over a wall, next to the road. I first thought it was an ordinary milestone, but upon inspection, found it to be another of the Millennium stones. 
You can click on it (and any other picture) for a larger version to read the inscription.

A nice patch of bluebells, and unusual whitebells at the side of the road.
You often see one or two of the white ones, but this many together is rare.

You can see a video of the bluebells waving in the breeze HERE

After a short while, we left the road and went across the fields towards Ringham low.
The buttercups here were profuse, to say the least!
I can't tell you how much joy this time of year gives us, we absolutely LOVE it!

....when all at once, I saw a crowd, a HOST of.......
(Apologies to Wordsworth)

I was spotted by some locals as I took their picture.

It's been a few years since these have seen any milk!
Mind you, they make lovely planters.

'What a fabulous drive', we thought. Way too grand for just a farm?

We took a sneaky peek at the place inside impressive entrance stone walls. Hidden away in a copse, complete with stone lions on the gateposts, Mount Pleasant 'farm' had been renovated to a very high standard, and sold for two point three MILLION pounds a couple of years previous.
With 46 acres, and six bedrooms, this place was FAR from your 'ordinary' farm!
Click HERE for details.

The view alone was priceless.

Lambs, enjoying the warm sunshine.

The next part of the walk was exploratory. The actual path went along that buttress on the right, but we decided to walk down the dale.
This tree was growing sideways out of the rock face - incredible!

The narrow, green dale was really pleasant to walk down, with heavily scented air, and dappled sunlight streaming through the trees.

You can see a video of this dale HERE

At the head of the nameless dale, following Rowlow brook, we emerged into bright sunlight and more blooms.

Beauty among the buttercups :-)

In a small copse near Anthony hill, an unexpected blast of blue from some late-flowering bluebells.

Rock outcrop on Anthony hill.

An amazing fact - the spring that feeds these troughs has NEVER dried up, in living memory!

We walked up the fields to Elton, as I told Sue all about the ski tow that they used to run on these slopes.
She was a bit sceptical, but I was SURE I'd seen lights in the trees years ago.
Upon investigation, I read that the tow is not now in use, but was very well used by the Elton ski club in past years.
See HERE for a local newspaper report from 1987.

Sadly, when we got back to Elton, the Duke of York wasn't open, so we still don't know if Mary is there or not.