Wednesday 6 July 2016

The Manifold valley.

It's been a while since we've been to one of my favourite places - the Manifold valley, just over the border in Staffordshire. I decided to take advantage of the free parking at Wetton mill for the start of the walk.
Click on any picture to enlarge it, or see a slideshow.

The bridge over the (flowing) river Manifold. This gives access to a tea rooms at the farm. This area is dotted with sink holes, and the river 'mysteriously' disappears a short distance downstream from here.

We crossed the bridge, and made our way through the cafe yard and up the valley between Sugarloaf and Wetton hill, with clearing skies ahead.

We got a bit excited to see this huge field mushroom, was this the first of many? I picked it, but alas, too much fly in it to be any good really, maybe a few days too late. Although eyes peeled, it was the only one we saw all day.

We contoured round to the right towards Wetton itself, admiring the Summer views all around. Today, the air quality was close to 100% perfect, and made for great pictures and views.

A break in the wall, much used by sheep (and us!).

Looking south east as we carried on towards Wetton.

At Town End farm, we saw this amazing construction. Dry, and made of stones and pebbles in the shape of a beehive. Why? We have no idea? Looks good though. We called at the Royal Oak pub to see our friend Ian, but his day off coincides with ours!
For information on the pub and what's on, Click HERE

We walked through the churchyard as a cockerel crowed.

A short walk through the village brought us to the lane to Thor's cave. This lane has an exquisite drystone wall either side, and I was privileged to see it being constructed by master waller Gordon Wilton a few years ago. It looks really good now with some age on it.

 The art of walling, as demonstrated by Gordon. This wall swings around a tree.
Poetry in limestone!

We THINK this is Scabiosa. 
It is just such a perfect specimen, that Sue thought it must be some other plant?

Looking across to the hunch of Thor's cave, our next goal.

In what seems like no time at all, we were on top of the cave, and today - WHAT VIEWS!!!!
My first real outdoor trip from school was to this valley. I never forgot it, and it led to my love of walking many years later. After the school trip, I and four friends decided to spend a wild week camping at Wetton Mill in 1971. In 1986, I took up walking seriously.

The iconic view from inside the cave.

I never can go just TO the cave, I always HAVE to go inside after scrambling up the slippery entrance. After ten of fifteen minutes, we left and tackled the path back down to the valley bottom.
As the Summer was well into flowering season, the insects were varied and many. Lots of flies as well as bees taking advantage of a 'power snack'.

Looking back to the view that so inspired me in 1970.

In this area, there are lots of stunning, unspoilt meadows, just brimming with wild flowers, buttercups top of the list.

Grindon spire came back into view as we climbed towards the village.

There are may old pinfolds in the Peak District. This on was renovated as a millennium project, and looks really good. 
A pinfold was a small enclosure where escaped animals were kept (sheep etc) until they could be re-claimed by the owner (at a cost, of course).

Some people never grow up - and that's just one of the many reasons I love Sue :-)

A very grand church, for such a small village.

A very old and dilapidated barn, which sadly I have seen get worse and worse over the years.

This particular path is a very favourite of mine. It runs North West from Grindon to Hillsdale, and on a day like today, has breathtaking views of the surrounding National park.

Click on the panorama to see a large version.

New life was everywhere. After the lambs, come the calves.
This one was less than an hour old.

Looking West from Hillsdale hall farm.
Again, click for large.

Sue takes in the magic of it all.
This was a 'good to be alive' day.

After the delights of the heights, we descended into the Waterslacks valley, and made our way towards the car. We love these huge Gunnera plants, their leaves are just SO BIG! You can read about them by clicking HERE

A large patch of what we think are some form of water lillies?

It had been a long, lovely day. Not a high mileage one, but one to savour and enjoy, with no time pressures. As we headed back, I caught these shots of the setting sun lighting up the Reef Knolls of Hollinsclough. What a perfect end to our wonderful day.

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Alstonefield, Wolfscote and Milldale.

An up and down dale walk today. We parked at the small village of Alstonefield, and headed off to Lower Hurst farm.

This beautiful granite bull resides there in the grounds.

Heading into the open fields.

One of many derelict Peak District barns. Sad, really.

Galloway belties were grazing in the fields.

Sue makes her way carefully along the precarious path above Wolfscote dale.

Looking over the dale, cut up by shadows.

After enjoying the views from the ridge, we descended steeply down Gypsy bank to Wolfscote dale.

The bridge to Wolfscote dale.

Rocky limestone crags above Wolfscote dale.

We followed the dale towards Beresford dale, passing the crags that are a favourite of hawks for nesting.

The light was starting to cast golden now, so we knew days end was closing in.
Time to get a move on.

The beautiful wooden bridge, set amongst the horse chestnut trees in Beresford dale.

A patch of Jews ear fungi.

A patch of fungi, slowly breaking down a tree stump.

Days end :-)

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