Only deranged people like me walk here. There are no paths on this wide expanse of open moorland - just tussocky grasses, clumps of heather, sphagnum mosses and the single birch tree you can see above. There's no other tree within half a mile of it. It's not a place where trees are meant to root themselves.
Beneath this deceptive moorland carpet, the earth is squelchy as rainwater accumulates before seeping along hidden rivulets to Burbage Brook. And in its turn that babbling stream winds its way for three miles to Grindleford where it joins the River Derwent which in its turn travels past Chatsworth House and through Matlock to Derby. And beyond that great Midlands city, it merges with the River Trent at Long Eaton. And then that larger, more important river - the Trent - loops through Nottingham heading northwards - passing the Lincolnshire hamlet of Gunthorpe where Shirley's family farmed for three generations. And thence under The Humber Bridge to The North Sea.
That thin, scarred and battered birch tree has been bent into the shape you see by winds predominantly from the west. I have often noticed it when driving out of Sheffield - up the road to Ringinglow which then winds over this desolate moorland towards the Hope Valley. But today I stopped, laced my boots and then stumbled away from the road, through the winter heather, rough clumps of grass and spongy waterlogged earth to take these pictures before this short and chilly December day drew to a close. Yes...I'm as mad as a box of frogs.