|Rose Farm, Sheldon|
This past week the weather has been gorgeous here in the heart of Great Britain. Bright, clear days revealing the glories of nature - with human modifications - in technicolour. Yesterday, in just skimpy shorts and flipflops, with bulging oiled biceps, I tackled the privet hedges in our back garden - forty metres on both sides. Armed with my trusty JCB hedge trimmer, it took nigh on three hours - creating a pile of clippings the size of a family-sized igloo. Job done. Then on to barbecue duty before Shirley arrived home from work bellowing "Where's me tea?" For a treat I brushed big slices of yellow pepper with olive oil and grilled them next to the pork chops and homemade burgers. Eat yer heart out Gordon Ramsay!
But on Thursday I rambled in my beloved Peak District once again. I parked up in a picture postcard village called Sheldon with its limestone farmhouses and quaint miners' cottages, its little village greens, its red phonebox and its curiously named public house. A sheepdog came to greet me as I donned my boots and I rubbed him below the neck which seemed to make him smile.
Then I set off across the limestone landscape with its ancient walls towards beautiful Deep Dale. Down the steep green banking then up the other side to Over Wheal Farm where I caught up with a sixty-something couple from Derby who seemed slightly appalled that I was clad in only my tiger T-shirt and shorts. They had fleeces and rucksacks - no doubt containing flares, sleeping bags, water canteens and Kendal mintcake. If possible, I like to travel light. Just my A4 map and camera.
Leaving them behind I reached an old drovers' track that strikes north westwards towards Taddington but at Taddington High Mere - a remote and ancient watering hole - I turned southwards for Flagg. A woman was walking two greyhounds - the black one had a hind leg missing. Then another woman on a muscular but stumpy brown horse trotted up the lane with her daughter on a frisky white pony behind her. There was so little motorised traffic out there.
From Flagg I walked on the Limestone Way footpath towards Knotlow Farm then down into the high peak village of Monyash where I stopped to photograph the old pinfold. A pinfold was a village enclosure used for the temporary accommodation of stray animals. Errant farmers were able to reclaim their animals for a small fee. Many Derbyshire villages still retain their pinfolds though of course they are never used these days - like many things they have become just a reminder of past times and the way things were.
|The pinfold in Monyash|
It was a long walk on tarmac from Monyash - all the way along Horse Lane. I turned right at the road junction because I wanted to investigate the site of Magpie Mine - an old lead mine that operated for two hundred and fifty years. Its pit wheel is now forever still but the site reminds visitors that northern Derbyshire was never just about sheep farms and gorgeous country vistas. No - the mining industry affected the area from before the coming of the Romans. Men died here. Miners' wives wept. Generations trudged across these windblown lanes to exploit seams of lead, knee deep in water, under the yoke of greedy mine owners who liked to keep their wage bills as suppressed as possible to maximise profits. Has anything changed?
Back in lovely Sheldon, I went into "The Cock and Pullet" which in spite of the suggestive name is not a gay bar I can assure you! I drank a refreshing pint of orange cordial with soda water and chomped on plain crisps containing not any old salt but "Cheshire salt". Oh yes, my friends, I know how to have a wild time.
|Bringing in the hay on Horse Lane|
|Magpie Mine near Sheldon|
|Another view of the now derelict Magpie Mine|
|Back in beautiful Sheldon. Time for a drink in|
"The Cock and Pullet"!