Friday, 19 September 2008

Manifold Valley on a dull day, but with my NEW camera!

Well, I was RARING to go out with my new birthday present this week. A shame, as the weather was quite dull & not at all conducive to good pictures. However, I did my best!
We parked up near to Ecton hall, in the Manifold valley about 3 miles south west of Hartington. There's lots of free parking in the valley, which I'm surprised about, as it's a really lovely and well-visited place. Won't be long before the greedy boys get the meters up though.
As we passed through Hartington, we noticed the well dressing was in place, so stopped to take a picture of it. The theme was the pilgrim fathers and the Mayflower.
As you probably know, these wonderful things are all made up with natural things - petals, cones, grasses, and take HUNDREDS of hours of close, painstaking work to create. All done by village volunteers. Community spirit at its best!
We then carried on to the start of the walk. We parked up near Ecton hall, and set off (again) straight up the valley side behind Ecton hall. This valley, and particularly this spot, has been mined for years. They even suspect that it may go back to prehistoric times, and are searching for evidence of this now. The hall is a strange building, a bit gothic in places, topped off with a copper
plated tower (now turned green with oxydisation, of course).

All around us were the signs of Autumn now. We were still in shorts, but you could feel that nip in the air - JUST. All in the hedgerows, the fruits could be seen, while the flowers drooped, their best now spent.

As we climbed the hill, we saw men digging a trench. We spoke to them, and they were excavating the area to try and find evidence of early mining.

They told us that the uninteresting-looking engine house behind us was VERY important, as it had been an early prototype shaft engine for the Ecton deep mine (the deepest in the country, I believe) , built by the famous James Watt.
After chatting for quite a while, we continued on, up Ecton hill and over the top. The views back were really good, even on this dull day. In this shot, you can see the hall, mine and spoil heaps, shored up by tree planting (probably also to screen it from the hall)

With the damp Autumn, comes fungi. I really love to eat wild fungi, but I HAVE to know I am sure what it is. These examples are not edible, but give me hope that the nice ones will be growing too, all I have to do is keep my eyes peeled.

We did quite a bit of up and downing, before we reached Wetton. The village was VERY sleepy today. Mid-week, and so hardly any activity. The pub even looked closed, although we didn't try to go in. We sat on the tiny village green and ate lunch. There are some really lovely cottages here. Alas, like most villages these days in the Peaks, mostly holiday cottages. I don't think this one was though, 'vine cottage'.

Sue saw Nasturtium in the garden, and said that it always reminded her of looking for caterpillars when she was a child. "There's always one under every leaf", she said. We looked, and sure enough.....

There were also a few bees about, getting the last of the pollen and nectar.
This one was peeping at me over a leaf.

After lunch, we left Wetton along a lane that has a lovely wall bordering it. I saw this wall being re-built by master waller Gordon Wilton
This was the first view of the hunch of Thors Cave. You can see the spire of Grindon church across the valley.
Of course, when we had climbed on top of the cave, I got to try the camera out!

Here's one I took of Sue.

As we dropped down, and round to the mouth of the cave, I saw this great dead head.

We got to the bottom and looked back. They've found evidence of bears and lots of habitation in Thor's cave. It's not, as you might think, to do with the Norse God of thunder, but more probably a changed 'Tors cave', to do with the height.

Some tiny fungi on a log
The first signs of autumn, apart from the slight nip in the air.

All that was left to do was walk along the old bed of the Manifold light railway (now a track for walkers and cyclists). We passed through the only tunnel on the line, to get back to Ecton, and the car. Not a great day for photo's, but certainly whetted my appetite for more with the new camera.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

NEW camera

Today it was my birthday - and THIS is what Sue got me, a shiny new Olympus E510 digital SLR camera.
Here I am trying it out.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Tideswell and Chee dale

Although the forecast wasn't great, we set off on a lovely morning. We parked at Tideswell, walked west up the hill and over to Monks dale. Here we turned left and dropped into the Dale. Monks dale is not a really popular dale, mainly because it's very hard going and treacherous underfoot. It's overgrown and damp. This makes for lots of moss and greenery, but also like walking on ice, so you have to be careful. After Monks dale we reached Millers dale. The we went into Chee dale where the first of the rain came. We had lunch under the viaduct, which I have abseiled off in the past, and walked past Wormhill springs and into the dale proper. We had good access across the stepping stones (which can become submerged and impassable in very wet conditions). At the end of the dale, we reached Great rocks dale, but turned North and over the tops towards Tunstead. Before this village, we then turned east and passed through Wormhill. We were disappointed to find the stocks locked, so we couldn't get a picture of us in them. Shame! The rain came again as we climbed out of the village and over again to Monks dale head, where we simply re-traced our steps back to the car. A good and tiring day, with a lot of good photo opportunities, I hope you'll agree. Don#t forget, click on any of the photo's to see a larger version.

Here we go then, as we left Tideswell, we got this lovely view of the church, known as 'the cathedral of the peak'

As you can see, there were a LOT of large cumulus clouds about, but benign at this point. However, we realised that could all change in a moment.
These are particularly good field patterns.

I just love this photo....................

Here are a few pics of the fauna and flora we saw.
Sue knows more than me on the names, but I take the pictures :-)

I'm not sure what this grass is called, I just thought it was lovely with subtle pinks and greens.

This is easy - a buttercup!
Two studies of scabia - new.........

......and old.

A nice Cranesbill geranium (Sue tells me).

Again, no idea what berries these are, but they are fabulous in colour and intensity.

I saw a log COMPLETELY covered in dozens of different greenery. Mosses, lichens, ferns, etc etc, so I just lay down with the camera and shot this. I'm really pleased with this one.

These small, black fungi were on the next log.
They look somehow alien, don't you think?

A managed to shoot this Red Admiral as it landed on a scabia.

Always a favourite of mine - a lightning tree against a blue sky.

The entrance to Monks dale. Look fairly innocuous, doesn't it?

Then you see the conditions underfoot.

This spider was busy trying to catch a few flies in the dale.

At last we left the heavy undergrowth and started to climb up the side of Monk dale.

The path became more passable as we got to Millers dale. It was really pleasant to walk beside the Wye with the babbling water for company.
As we turned the corner, we saw the huge viaduct, one of many on the Monsal trail. This was a train line from Buxton to Rowsley, so the people of Buxton could get to Bakewell, Haddon hall, Chatsworth etc. It cut right through the heart of the peak district, with no obstacle too great to surpass. It leapt great valleys, and bored through great hills. Now, most of the tunnels are closed for safety reasons, and the line is now a Mecca for bikers and walkers. The viaducts attract abseilers, and I have 'done' this particular viaduct myself a few years ago. Exhilarating stuff, I can tell you.

At this point, the rain came again. We just had time to eat lunch under the arch of the viaduct though. We then set off for Chee dale, our next dale. Chee dale can flood quite badly, and stepping stones have been laid to try to increase the chances of getting through. The going underfoot in Chee dale is, again, very difficult and slippery. It's really rocky and muddy in places, but it is also one of the most beautiful dales in Derbyshire, especially in a morning mist.

Sue negotiates the first set of stepping stones.

Then my turn........

This dale is also very good for birdlife, with many dipper there. I've seen HUNDREDS of these birds, but today, for the first time, I heard TWO singing, one after another. Their song is nothing special, it's a sort of chattering, twittering sound, but very pleasant all the same and Sue & I stood and listened for ages. I recorded one of them, and the video will be on my 'peakwalks' blog later this week.
Here is a picture of a dipper.
The towering 'Ravens tor' limestone buttresses. Some of the highest in the country. I've stood right on the top of these, and the view is stunning. looking up to them isn't bad either!

I ask you - what more could you want out of life? This was what Sue and I call a 'good to be alive day'. The rain had stopped (for now) and we were in heaven!
Does anyone know the number of a good roofer?
This character wanted a word as we passed by.
We dropped into the valley, back to the head of Monks dale, before retracing our steps of this morning and heading back to Tideswell. The same view as this morning, but in a different light. A great day, despite a bit of rain, and hardly anyone about. That's the advantage of walking mid-week, we can park easily, and NO crowds.
Hope you've enjoyed the pics and text, sorry that there's a lot but I SO love taking them and recording the walks we do. I hope to get a new, even better, camera soon (it's my birthday), so will be even more eager to 'shoot'.

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