|Well dressing in the village of Hope|
Shirley is down in Bristol for a few days - it's a national conference related to student health provision. Her health centre has many university students on its list.
So yesterday I had to get up early to take her to nearby Hathersage. Another conference attendee was giving her a lift from there all the way to Bristol, After dropping off my beloved, I drove westwards to walk in virgin territory, pausing briefly in Hope to snap the picture above and arrived in Peak Dale just after ten o'clock.
Compared with Derbyshire's many quaint and picturesque villages, Peak Dale is a sad sort of place. It grew up because of limestone quarrying and most of its houses are squat and unlovely. There's a "For Sale" sign on disused Holy Trinity church and the last remaining shop - the post office - closed its doors forever a couple of years back. I met an old woman in the street. She had lived her entire life in Peakdale and had seen it change. "We've got nothing now. Nothing at all", she sighed just before I stole her handbag... (I made the last bit up).
Around Peak Dale there are the scars of limestone workings. Great clefts in the earth and still the digging and crushing machines keep grinding away. Mostly it's about the manufacture of cement and also limestone chippings for road building. Those ancient oolitic seas of pre-history have given us this unsung treasure - limestone. In the hamlet of Smalldale the air was filled with the smell and sound of the limestone industry which threatens to squeeze this former sleepy little agricultural community out of existence.
By twelve thirty my first ramble was over. Like an American pioneer, I decided to head further west - to Combs, south of Chapel-en-le-Frith on the edge of the Peak District National Park. There, in The Beehive Inn, I enjoyed a pint of orange cordial with soda water (though it was oddly unfizzy) and a packet of plain crisps before heading to the hills.
At some point I lost the path I had planned to take and found myself scrabbling over gates and dry stone walls till I came to a dell choked by Japanese knotweed which - like posh landowners in deerstalker hats - is becoming a scourge in various parts of the countryside. Once it has got a hold it multiplies and suffocates natural vegetation. Thank heavens there's very little of it in the Sheffield region.
Finally, high on an old packhorse route - The Old Road - I walked by the strangely named Wythen Loche - an isolated moorland farm - and wondered what it might be like to live there in different seasons. And who chose that weird name? Then down past The Hanging Rock and onwards in a circle back down towards Combs. I saw lapwings in a high pasture and where I was going to take a cross country footpath by another isolated farm, I thought better of it when vicious hounds came to meet me baring their teeth - hungry for delicious Pudding meat.
Back in Sheffield I was - to put it bluntly - knackered. After resting and processing some of my photographs, I drove up the main road to "The Wheatsheaf" which is a Toby Carvery Inn. There I enjoyed a carvery meal and a a Honeycomb Delight Sundae dessert for a mere £6.50. Delightful and a suitable reward for a long day of rambling. While the cat's away the mouse will play. Here are some more pictures:-
|Limestone train near Smalldale|
|Sitch House near Smalldale - typical High Peak countryside.|
|"The Beehive Inn" in Combs|
|Lapwings in a moorland meadow|