Uphilldowndale

Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England


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Meadow Hay

It seems hard to believe that it was only Wednesday morning that Mr Uphillldowndale and I took a turn around the field wearing Wellington boots, the meadow grass was flattened to the ground,

Wet grass 2

 

by the weight of rain that had fallen over night. 

Wet grass

 

Jammy the kitten cat got wet feet,  he was unimpressed and protested loudly, and completed the rest of the walk along the wall.

 

Jammy wet feet

 

Spud, well, he was just  Spud,

 

wet springer spaniel_

 

By late afternoon the sun had come out, our neighbouring farmer had come along and mown the grass, he obviously knew what the forecast had in store. Because since then it has been wall to wall warmth and long sunny days, by this afternoon, the grass had been rowed up and bailed, job done.

 

In a previous post I mentioned not really knowing what made a ‘traditional meadow’, then by chance I heard Jim Dixon, The Peak District National Park Chief Executive  (his blog is here) being interviewed on BBC radio Derby, on the very subject.  The roll call of species should include buttercups, yellow rattle and pink clover we have lots of those!

 

Natural Meadow Derbyshire_

 

So the surrounding fields are now empty, Spud the dog will be able to find his ball.

 

Spud hay field_

 

Since the fields have been mown there has been a forlorn curlew banking around the fields and across the valley, calling  plaintively. I suspect it might have lost it’s nest to the mower;

 

Curlew_

 

I’m surprised, I didn’t know it was there, I hadn’t seen any curlews around on a regular basis since spring.   Most curlews around here are up on the higher, rough pastures, where there are nests and young will not be disturbed by the pressures of making hay while the sun shine and  the timeline that dictates  commercial farming. Sad.  It wouldn’t have been done intentionally of that I’m sure.  As Jim Dixon mentioned in his interview,  in trying to preserve traditional meadows we are asking farmers to be ‘farmers, factories and museums’. It’s not easy.


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The Bare Bones of Winter

The snow has gone, for now, these images were taken as it took its leave.

Winter fields 2-1

The houses at the foot of the shot  above must get no sun all winter… we have often thought how lucky we were to end up with a house on sunny side of a hill,  mind it was more through good luck than good management; buying as we did, at the height of summer it was something that never entered our busy little heads.

At this time of year its a landscape that is lean and emaciated or textural and fine boned, depending on your point of view.

Winter fields -1

Note the ugly white industrial building, bottom left of shot. When the snow is on the ground  it is at least it camouflaged, the other 50 weeks of the year it stick out like a sore thumb. Planners please note.


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Spud on Sunday Part XXXXVII

Spud having  a fun run

Spud, run-1

Gerry left a comment over on her blog about the nature of dogs…

One of the nice things about dogs is that whenever you get around to taking them for a good walk they are glad to go and joyful at the discoveries of the day. They do not waste time being resentful that yesterday’s walk was short on amenities. They do not spoil today’s pleasures with yesterday’s grievances. I should pay more attention to dogly virtues.

 

Mr Uphilldowndale and I were looking for  the ‘Roving Lunch Box’, that moves around Derbyshire on a monthly mission to confuse and challenge: we never did find it. The Lunch Box is a long story, but it is sort of geocaching for fell runners, only with less of the satellite navigation and a lot more in the way of mind bending riddles. Spud didn’t give a monkeys that we never found it, everything is an adventure for Spud. In the end Spud and I retired to the car whilst Mr Uhdd continued to pit his wits against the clues; for entertainment  whilst I waited, I read the only available thing, the A-Z of Derbyshire and  I marvelled at the richness of place names in this county. Who wouldn’t want to live at a farm called ‘Puddingpie Farm’. Delicious.


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Sense of Place

The landscape becomes more enclosed and pastoral away form the
remote moorland tops of the Dark Peak. Within the national park
the landscape remains peaceful but the isolation diminishes as the
landscape becomes more intimate and settled with gritstone walled
enclosures and isolated gritstone farmsteads, often with associated
field barns and sheep pens. The improved fields and tree cover
increase towards the valley bottoms creating variety in the landscape and intermingling with gritstone buildings.

Peak District National Park Authority, Dark Peak Western Fringe

Change in the weather-1

On Sunday morning I woke very early, I left my teenagers and Spud the dog to their slumbers and zipped off to one of my favourite hills and watched the weather ebb and flow. I took these shots around six am…

Change in the  weather 3-1

 

Change in the  weather 4-1


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Caught in the Act

I can’t wait to get out and about, it seems like an age since I’ve had opportunity to meander with the camera.

Footpath -1

Not long now and I’ll be set free.

I’ve been a bit concerned that I’d not seen any buzzards around her of of late, in the winter I was seeing or hearing them daily (I’ve only been seeing them around here since 2008 I think). I hoped they had moved on to better hunting rather than come to any harm and I’m pleased to say I saw one across the valley at the weekend, so all looks well.

just hills and stuff-1

 

However, over in  the Derwent valley, thing have not been so good for birds of prey, a gamekeeper has been ordered to pay costs £10,000 and given a community service order for  illegal trapping

A Derbyshire gamekeeper has been found guilty of attempting to illegally trap and kill birds of prey, following a 10-day trial.

Glenn Brown was convicted at Chesterfield Magistrates Court today of seven offences under the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981, relating to the unlawful use of a cage trap on a grouse shooting estate on the Upper Derwent Valley. He was sentenced to 100 hours community service and ordered to pay £10,000 costs

The RSPB set up a covert camera operation and caught him red handed.


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Beating the Invader

Back in January I showed you a shimmery image taken at dusk, of  the  burning rhododendrons that were  being cleared from the moor.

 can you tell what it is yet-1 

We went to take a closer look, in the clear light of Spring the scale of the job,of ridding the moor of this invasive species was bigger than I imagined from afar

clearing the moor-1

The job is not over yet (well I hope it isn’t it is a bit of a mess up there) and even where they had  supposedly been cleared tenacious rhododendrons are clinging to life amongst the debris.

clearing the moor 2-1

Last year the foreground in this shoot would have been filled with rhododendrons

clearing the moor 4-1

It is when you see them in isolation, as here, they look so alien,

clearing the moor 5-1

like it has been beamed in from another land (if not world) you can just tell as a species they are ‘not local’ I’ve a busy day tomorrow, where I can expect the unexpected; however Spud the dog will be back in action on Sunday, that is a promise.

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