It was last Thursday afternoon when I set off for the tiny Derbyshire village of Astwith. I would be astonished if its population exceeded fifty but it has a postbox, a village noticeboard and a modern phone box that is so rarely used these days that ir is being reclaimed by Mother Nature in the form of creeping ivy. Here it is:-
Boots on and a few minutes out of Astwith there are cows resting in a meadow with the hollow ruins of Hardwick Hall on the ridge beyond Stainsby Plantation:-
Beyond the industrial estate on the edge of the village of Holmewood, I meet The Five Pits Trail. Once a railway track, it connects five villages that used to boast productive coal mines but they are long gone and with each passing year the evidence of their existence becomes more obscure.
By the trail I see sheep grazing near High House Farm:-
Then I am off again, plodding towards Tibshelf:-
Through Tibshelf, I leave the main road and head for Biggin Farm. I see the ruin of another, smaller farm beyond a barbed wire fence and spiky hawthorn hedgerows but I can't get there so instead I take this photo of the rolling North-East Derbyshire countryside:-
Two miles further on and I am back at my car in litttle Astwith and it's seven o' clock in the evening. Time to head home. I had never been to Astwith before and it is likely that I shall never return. Close to the M1 motorway, thousands of motor vehicles flash by it every day but the drivers don't even know that Astwith is sleeping there as it has done for well over a thousand years.