Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Weekend explorations in Derbyshire

What a glorious weekend this has been.  We are very lucky, Tim's mum lives in Bakewell, in the house he grew up in.  Having not seen her for some time (she has the busiest social diary of anyone I know) we hopped in the car and drove up to Derbyshire. What a wonderful weekend we all had.

We had the most perfect weather, not too hot, warm and dry, the soft breeze took the edge of the excessively sunny moments and the cloud prevented those of us prone to burning from scurrying indoors.  We took tea and cake in the garden whilst the boys blew bubbles and chased them around.  I am not sure what the local sheep or walkers made of these colourful and ephemeral globes as they drifted over the wall and into the field.

 Monica sprang a lovely suprise on us all; our friends (my son's god mother and her husband) were to come over for dinner that evening.  They "small hold" 45 acres, along with 18 Belted Galloways, 6 chickens, 3 horses, two rabbits as well as two ecology jobs.  They are in the middle of haymaking, sparing us their precious time to come and eat with us.  Needless to say we behaved disgracefully as per usual and scandalized the children.

Sunday dawned bright and warm, as a result we chose to cycle for the day, setting out sometime after breakfast.  Tim, having grown up in the area, chose a route from Frydon Brick works; along the High Peak Trail.
Natures herbaceous border.
The banks were full of flowers: rosebay willow herb, harebells, oxeye daisies, grasses, meadow vetchling, common vetch, lady's bedstraw, hawksbit, scabeous, cow parsley and much more.  The area is an old volcano and sea bed so full of limestone;the area is renowned for its wild flowers. 

The trail itself is a nice flat cinder path, ideal for little legs and older legs to cycle on.  It meanders through the dales, following the old Pennine branch line.  Our only companions for the day were a few other cyclists.
Along the way we saw some sights, what was that? Over in a distant field; strange tents, loud and brilliant colours. Was it Carnival, circus or show? 

We had brought a picnic with us, as we planned to cycle for the whole day, which we planned to eat at our destination. That's it...on top of that hill...in the distance past the tents.
We had to walk the last part, too steep and rocky for bikes.  We piled our cycles together, locked them up and then set off up the hill, past the outcropped limestone.  Here we sat and picnicked, home-made sandwiches, coffee, apples, hard boiled eggs and the special treat (shop cake,  there is no accounting for children's tastes!).  

Once we had eaten and refreshed ourselves it was time to slog on up to the summit.  Past the beeches in that peculiar ring, through to the mound in the centre; crowned with slabs of stone.  We had come to the marvel that is Minning Low.  Site of a barrow, circled around by a classic ring ditch.  Sadly many of the barrow stones have slipped, been taken for building materials or broken. There are still hints of the burial chamber that was here.

In the centre of the mound is a stand of trees, one of which had been struck by lightening.  The resultant boiling sap had caused the bark to split and explode off the tree.  Leaving behind an eerie and blasted sculptural form.

All around the mound a mass of flowers.

There was not another soul there, which meant that the peace and calm of the place permeated all.  Even my children were quiet in their playing.  It has an aura that is steeped into the ground of such places,  something you cannot fail to absorb whilst sitting there.

Eventually we tore ourselves away, back down the hill to the bikes.  Finally we headed back down the trail and home, along the way being reminded of the industrial heritage of the route.

The following day we were informed, by my six year old, that we would be going to Chatsworth.  Matthew had set his heart on going, it is one of his favourite days out with his Gran'ma.  Although Chatsworth is excessively popular and often heaving with people it is big enough to cope with the numbers that visit.  Once there we paid for the farm and adventure playground and took the children off.  It is a fantastic place, the boys dug, ran, jumped, climbed, slid and ran some more.   They watched the goats eat, the horses huff, the pigs bask and the chickens busy themselves, checking on all the visitors around.
This magnificent boy obviously runs the place.

After leaving the park we made a final stop off for a walk with Gran'ma.  Along the Monsal trail, through the Headstone tunnel and onto the viaduct.  Here you can see two ladies enjoying a well earned rest.  

This weekend was a wonderful treat, my mother in law is usually away over the summer.  She is Finnish and often goes 'home' from July to September.  This year she is here and we will get to share more of our summer with her.  We had a marvellous weekend, in excellent company, whilst enjoying some rather special places.


  1. What a fabulous weekend, gorgeous views, lots of countryside, fresh air and family time, just wonderful. I am somewhat envious...trying to get my family out together this summer will be an act in itself I would imagine.

  2. You write about it so beautifully. Sounded wonderful. I love the photo of you cycling down the country path - lovely.