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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A Rock and A Hard Place

If you ever purchase a calendar featuring ‘images of Derbyshire’ you can bet your bottom Bakewell tart, that at least one month will be illustrated with an image of millstones, abandoned on the moors.

Stanage 4-1

Indeed the millstone is the iconic symbol of the Peak National Park,

I’m shamefaced to say I’d never been up here until last Friday, I knew about the place, just below High Neb on Stanage Edge.

Stanage 7-1

It’s a popular spot for photographers, as you can imagine, there is something a little magnetic about those stones, the rough and the smooth, the taming of the stone

Stanage 8-1

We thought is might be the sort of landscape that would give poetic inspiration to Glo, (you see dear blog readers, we think of you on our sorties)  and this shot is for Gerry, we know how she likes a little whimsy in her world.

Stanage 9 for Gerry-1

So what is the story of this graveyard of stones? The most informative website is Peak District Industrial Landscapes

Gritstone has been worked into tools to grind grain for at least 2,000 years.   The earliest evidence are querns :  simple blunt cones and cylinders worked entirely by muscle power can be found at  Wharncliffe near Stocksbridge.  Querns (that is hand powered stones) with a more familiar wheel design comes from an early  medieval dig at Blackwell near Buxton.  The millstones which attract the attention of the visitor most often, however,  are the stones designed for use by water, wind and steam mills.   There are probably 1,500 of these scattered throughout the Peak, although approx 80% are within 2 kilometers of a line drawn from Moscar (map ref.: SK2388) to Fox House (SK264803) and on to Dobb Edge (SK2687150) in the grounds of Chatsworth. A few more are on Stanton Moor or scattered around Ashover.

Stanage 6-1

It took a man and a boy a month to cut a pair of these stones; and what I can’t help but wonder is how, given  the influence of market forces (which I’m thinking must have been more real, urgent  and hand to mouth then, than now)   and given the number of stones still on the hill, did men and boys go on labouring on these stones long after  they could still sell them? Here’s a stone left unfinished, we felt it had  the look of a sacrificial altar about it).

Stanage 11-1

Or are these stones the unrealised currency the men’s retirement* fund, for surely this  type of labour must have been a young mans game, ‘ Eh lad, get some stones cut, for the lean times, when your back is to weary to work’.  That is a miserable thought, please, other scenarios  are welcome.

Look at the  awesome view. (Joe told me to write that).

Stanage 3-1

I use the word ‘retirement’ lightly, we are talking of an era where you worked to live, that was your lot.


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Spud on Sunday XIX

Just to show Spud isn’t permanently on the sofa!

Spud on Sunday-1

It is me that has not been able to get out and about much of late, Spud is at the door ready to run at a moments notice. Whilst I’m a little swamped with jobs to be done and studies to be studied. I’ll  be back to tell you where Spud is and why, a little later in the week. If it is sooner rather than later, it will be because I’ve finished my work, or, more likely , I’m looking for a distraction.  It’s a truism, the less time you have to attend to your blog, the greater the need to do so!!

I’ve not been managing to keep up with reading my favourite blogs or responding as I’d like, to the comments left here; hopefully this will free up a bit when I get in the swing of things, if not it will be September before usual service is resumed!

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