Saturday, 4 May 2013


PC is off sailing the seven seas with her husband, so for now it's just me and my camera.

Out again, but not on my own this week as Husband has a day off work and is joining me. We don't get out walking anything like as much as we would wish so he's jumped at the opportunity. At least the weather looks to stay fine and we even have some sunshine.

We park the car in the small parking area at the side of the River Wye at Upperdale. We're the only ones here as we're quite early. We pull on our boots then hoist our rucksacks on to our backs (why is mine heavier?) in near silence - no catching up to do and we ran out of sparkling conversation on the journey! Such is married life.

This first part of the walk is on the road, heading towards the imposing facade of Cressbrook Mill, but before we reach it we spot a duck on the river looking extremely exotic in temperate Derbyshire.

This proves to be a talking point as we can't quite decide what it is. (Turns out it is a male Mandarin Duck.) Once the duck has refused to stop to have its photograph taken we move on, and in a nearby field we see some interesting sheep. These, fortunately, are more obliging. My first thought is that they are Hebridean sheep. Why? No idea, but on checking various websites on returning home I'm pretty confident - although if I am wrong please feel free to let me know as I'm no livestock expert.

Ahead is the old mill, now converted into smart living accommodation, and it is the first time Husband has seen it in many years. I tend to forget how infrequently he gets out into the walking heart of Derbyshire despite travelling all over the country for his job.

We take the lane to the right of the mill and begin the steady ascent. We pass a lady with a very old dog, but other than that we see no one else. The birdsong is clear and we can enjoy the fresh green leaves bursting into bud. On the banks at either side of the road there are wood anemones in bloom, sprinklings of white like mini snowdrifts. As we reach the top of our climb and take the footpath towards the Dale we encounter more flowers growing beneath the straight trunks of thin woodland with the sun lighting the path ahead, a typical English spring scene.

It's a straight and fairly level path to a narrow gate and I'm relieved that there are no cows here (there had been in the past when I'd been with PC). However, at the other side of the gate the ground is churned up, a sure sign that cattle are, or have been, in the vicinity. I keep a wary eye open but as we walk into a more open field I can breathe a sigh of relief. No cows. But there is a lovely view over the trees to the distant Cressbrook Dale.

In the woods at the side, though, there is the most glorious carpet of anemones turning the whole woodland floor white.

It's a fairly steep descent here, dreadful when it's slippery, but no problem today. At the bottom is a narrow gated bridge over the dried up stream bed. It's hard to remember that on our last visit the bridge was close to being submerged.
The walk along the path in this wooded part of Cressbrook Dale is always very lovely. Birds are very active (we even hear an owl - it must have trouble sleeping) and the ground is carpeted with flowers, mainly anemones but there are bright yellow celandines too. We are following the dried riverbed which looks strangely sinister and primeval.
We continue through the woods until they give way to the wider, open spaces of the limestone dale. Immediately the search is on for the orchids which thrive here, but sadly it seems we are too early - or the weather has been too unkind - because they aren't flowering yet. I do find one eventually and
once I've seen one it is easy to spot dozens, but as yet they are just clusters of leaves with promising buds.
The Dale widens out with the sometimes-stream completely dry missing from the bottom. Ahead is a new bridge, replacing the stepping stones over the non-extent water and leading up Tansley Dale. Here we pause for a nip from the secret flask (yes, Husband knows all about it) and I take a scenic photo of said flask on top of the bridge with the Dale in the background, just for PC.
We continue up the Dale and into the breeze. It isn't too bad, but it is noticeable. The Dale dog-legs and soon we are approaching Peter's Stone, a monumental limestone dome where there was once a gibbet (see an earlier post). We walk up towards the stone then climb to the prominent outcrop beneath it where we can sit and enjoy the wide ranging view up the dale and down past Wardlow Mires towards Foolow.
After a while we take the path towards Wardlow Mires until we are in the Dale bottom again then turn back. From here there are splendid views of Peter's Stone, though it is a wonder that a gibbet could have been erected here.
We head off back down the Dale and find a suitable hollow of ground in which to sit for lunch and shelter from the ever present wind. The coffee is very good, and I initiate Husband into the ritual of the buns. Today we have Toffee Pecan Danish Swirls - very sticky but very satisfying.
It is tempting to lay back and snooze. Out of the wind it is quite mild but the sun has gone in and the clouds seem to be gathering, so we gather our gear and retreat.
We watch some Pied Wagtails bobbing about in the short grass and on the drystone walls before going through the gate into wooded area. Here there is a steep sided clearing with cowslips which we hadn't noticed on our outward walk. I pause to take a picture before we continue.

When we eventually cross the bridge over the dry stream we turn left and follow the course of the stream toward Ravensdale Cottages. Just before the cottages the stream reappears from underground and we can see it bubbling up from beneath some rocks, but beyond the cottages it has disappeared again!
Behind the cottages are the cliffs of Ravensdale and there is a notice saying that climbing is not allowed this year as ravens have actually nested on the crags for the first time in many years. Despite using our binoculars we couldn't see them, but it is excellent news, and we hope that climbers don't try to disturb the birds.
From here it is a short walk up the long driveway to rejoin the road, and then we are on the downhill stretch to Upperdale and the car. It has been an excellent walk, Husband has thoroughly enjoyed it and so have I - although there has been less conversation than usual! Next time I'll be out on my own again, though.

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