It's hard to believe that it has been three weeks since our last walk with holidays and other events interrupting our summer, but at last we've arrived at Ladybower for our planned stroll amongst the bluebells. Except that the bluebells are all but finished for this year.
Still, we set off in hope on this gloriously sunny day. There haven't been too many of these so far this year - the ones we have enjoyed have tended to arrive by stealth, then sidle away quickly - but today is set to be a good one. Sun cream and sunglasses weather.
This is an easy circuit around the northern arm of Ladybower. It's a saunter rather than a walk, an amble with no need for the map.
Although we don't park at Fairholmes we do make use of the facilities as we set off (well maintained loos) dodging the multitude of ducks congregating in the hope of crumbs. We follow the road that runs at the base of the dam and continues along the eastern side of the reservoir. On the map Derwent village is still marked and where there was once a thriving community all that remains are a few houses that would have been on higher ground.
There are quite a few walkers about, and some cyclists, but we barely notice them as we have a lot to talk about. Plenty has happened over the last three weeks; holidays, exams, successes, failures so we're occupied quite happily.
We're making very good progress despite our ambling pace so we find ourselves a comfortable spot at the side of the water and an apple. (Note: healthy snack!)
We watch a duck with her four gorgeous fluffy ducklings. The mother spends some time chasing off a persistent male before returning to her unconcerned brood.
The sun is warm and it's very tempting to sit here all day but we decide that we'll 'lunch' on the other side of the reservoir so we hoist our rucksacks back on and set off again.
The sun is fierce now and all shade is welcome. It's a good job we had the suncream handy. When we reach the bridge we have a brief pause as we try (with only limited success) to obtain a mobile phone signal, then we watch the swallows skimming the surface of the water for insects.
On the western side of the reservoir we walk along the broad, sheep-grazed grass which is littered with goose feathers, but soon we're into the welcome shade of the woods. We discuss the various merits of spanish toast, bruschetta, ginger and rhubarb cake and honey cake - a sure sign that we're in need of food.
Luckily we don't have far to go before a bench presents itself in a patch of dappled shade. We've eaten here before (in the pouring rain) but today there are no complaints about the weather. Even the seat has been renewed. They must have known we were coming. Our lunch is simple but followed by strawberry and cream scones - so good they have to have their photos taken before they're demolished. Coffee follows - we're a civilised pair - whilst we enjoy the views across the water. There are lots of people lounging on the banks now.
We move on and at last are rewarded with bluebells, enough to make a pleasant blue haze beneath the trees although, admittedly, it isn't as good a show as last year when we arrived to see them earlier. Nevertheless, photographs are taken for proof.
A rattling off to our right alerts us to a squirrel in the wood. After a while we catch sight of him (or her) running up a tree trunk. What a size! A giant amongst squirrels with a long plume of a tail.
Checking the time we realise that we have taken far long than we intended, and are now running late. Typical. Knowing we had time to spare has meant that we've walked slowly and had plenty of stops, but having to up the pace at the end isn't too much of a strain given the overall ease of the walk. Before we finish though there is time for another photo where the light slants magically through the trees. Perfect.