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We took the camper van out to stretch it’s legs, just a one nighter, not far, just a 30 minute drive into the White Peak, pretty much my old commute in days gone by. We’d made some repairs and alterations to the van since our last ‘big trip’ to Scotland in May, and we wanted to check things worked as intended, the leaky tap is no more, and the new fridge, has a TARDIS like capacity, it’s smaller than the old fridge and yet it can accommodate a four pint bottle of milk AND a bottle of wine in an upright position, no more fridge wrangling! Result.

And if that wasn’t enough van excitement, Mr Uphilldowndale used space gained by the smaller fridge to build a cutlery drawer. ‘Tis a thing of beauty, I’d share a video of me opening and closing it in sheer delight, if I’d fully mastered uploading videos on to this WordPress editor.

We visited the lovely village of Monyash had a delicious and leisurely brunch at The Old Smithy Cafe, a favourite coffee stop of Mr UHDD on his Sunday bike rides, we shared our table and travel tales with a motorbiking couple from the Midlands, before striking out to Chatsworth.

The village can attribute its existence, and its name, to water. Lying underneath the centre of the village is a narrow band of clay deposited during the Ice Age. This resulted in pools of standing water, a highly unusual feature in a limestone area. Over time meres (ponds) were fashioned into the clay by the villagers to provide a constant source of water. At one time the village had five meres and at least twenty wells providing the inhabitants and their livestock, as well as passing drovers, with a plentiful supply of water right up until recent times.

The centre of the village is always where the gossip is, here the now superseded phone box has been repurposed as a mini library, the post box still functions, but you won’t get as many collections these days. (At least this one hasn’t been stolen.) But it is still a place to stop for a chat.

Monyash Derbyshire

Through the stile into the small enclosure is a clue to how this spot must have been a meeting place for hundreds of years, with what we took to be a capped well

I rather liked the view back onto the village green, and much admired the worn stile, which would have kept the local livestock out of the village water source.

We take turning on the tap for fresh water so much for granted. Getting water, must have consumed so much time and energy, especially in this part of the Peak District, where the porous limestone gobbles up rivers and streams. I really shouldn’t complain about a leaky tap.

Winter Walk

Nothing finer than a  winter walk for  the restoration of equilibrium, Mr Uphilldowndale and I were both in need the other afternoon. We went down by the river, always a good move.

Riverside walk-1

Up through the woods and across the fields.

late afternoon walk-1

Spud had a high old time, you can just see him here, heading off  towards a rather handsome wall, that’s topped with snow.

late afternoon walk 1-1

At the moment freezing rain is hammering against the windows and the rising wind has been piling snow back into the lanes this afternoon. The forecast is for the weather to get warmer over the weekend and for the snow to melt; we’ll be glad to see the back of it for a while I think. The weather conditions have led to tragedy.

We walked back past the church, not a bat or a bear in sight.

late afternoon walk church -1

I saw some photos of ‘ zombie snowmen’ in the press this week, I had to admire the skill in their making, their location was described as a disused graveyard in Bristol,  it led me to wonder, how can  graveyard be disused? Its not like a factory is it? Isn’t always going to be ‘in use’ by its residents?

Woolly Winter Tales

What I can I tell you, we have snow. Is there any part of the UK that doesn’t have snow? I wonder.

The sheep in the next field seem quite unperturbed

snow covered sheep -1

They are fed daily, which seems to make them happy.

contented sheep -1 

It took a wee while to find a sheep that would look me in the eye, as most had their backs to the wind (and wind chill).

Wind from the east-1

I can vaguely remember a farmer telling me this is how sheep end up stuck in snow drifts, they keep working their way along, keeping the wind behind them, scratting for grass until they run out of field and the snow piles in behind them.

heading out of the wind-1

He also told me in the winter of 1963 that whilst many of his flock perished in snow drifts, some were able to survive by eating their own fleece.

But there are people better qualified to comment of sheep and snow, have a look at herdy’s blog, up in Cumbria.

cold nose sheep-1

We’ve just watched a cracking little programme on BBC2 about the winter of ‘63 (flighty, it is worth watching on iplayer (Winterwatch)

Seaside Rock

How quickly our seaside holiday is becoming a distant memory. How quickly the real world piles in to the vacated mind.

How heavy it has rained today! Just as well I have some holiday snaps to look back at.

On the coast path there were some fine lumps of rock (you know I’m fond of them) ancient gate posts, long since disused girded with hand forged iron.

seaside rock -1

The remnants of old walls

seaside rock  1-1

The bizarre weather we’ve had in UK this summer seems at least to have pleased the costal flowers, or just made them flower later than usual. I can’t ever recall  ever seeing quite so many as this year.

seaside rock  4-1

The insect world seemed appreciative

seaside rock  6-1

Just delightful really, *sigh*

seaside rock  5-1

Whatever the Weather

It has been a very odd mix this week, lashing rain, sultry heat, high winds that have dumped a fine layer of sand over the car (and even the lily pads in the pond) goodness know from whence it came.

Yesterday evening I was pottering around the hills south of Buxton, it was warm and rather pleasant. I don’t know who this little bird is (answers on a postcard please) but they were rather sweet and willing to pose briefly.

bird on fence -1 

Tom has been in the Lake District completing the expedition  section of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. I’m much relived  that he is safely off the hill, given the storms and flash flood there have been (he tells me the thunder and lightening they experienced was ‘awesome’ I’m sure we will get the finer detail on his return this afternoon).

I’ve a stack of posts in mind, some of them about quarrying, some about the limestone and gritstone landscape around here.

Limestone -1

For starters, the lay of the land. Quarrying is big,  it’s a big employer, it has a big impact on the landscape, lumps of rock on an industrial scale..

Quarry Derbyshire-1

Half a hill, near Harpur Hill

Quarry Derbyshire 3-1

(and if you are looking for the so called ‘Blue Lagoon’ don’t) go to Iceland please.


Following on from yesterdays images, I bring you Cowburn Tunnel on the Manchester to Sheffield railway line, it’s very scenic line (if you cut out the urban bits of Manchester and Sheffield that is) well worth a ride if you get the chance, you can even take the folk train, if that’s the sort of thing you fancy.

Now pay attention please, I need to point and wave my arms around for you to see what I’m talking about; the entrance to the tunnel in the lower third  of the image and the tunnels ventilation shaft is the black ‘cube’ sitting up on the moor near the skyline.

Cowburn Tunnel Derbyshire -1

What you can’t see from this vantage point is the railway line curving around the back of the hill in the foreground.

A little history of the ninth longest tunnel in the UK, it was an excavation of epic proportions.

The tunnel is 3,702 yards (3,385 m) long. It was built in 1891 by the Midland Railway, under Colborne (part of a 1,700 ft/518 m moorland between Kinder Scout and Rushup Edge). It takes the Hope Valley Line west out of Edale valley, to emerge near Chinley.

Unusually, the tunnel is not built at a constant gradient: in fact, the summit of the line between Dore and Chinley lies within the tunnel, about a quarter of the way from the eastern end. From the summit, the tunnel falls at 1 in 100 (1%) eastwards and 1 in 150 (0.67%) westwards. Nevertheless, when the headings met, they were no more than 1 inch (25.4 mm) out of line in the vertical direction, and met exactly in the horizontal direction. Only one vertical shaft was used. Although the workings were much drier than they had been for Totley Tunnel, on one occasion the headings filled with water to a depth of 90 ft (27.4 m) and work was carried on in a diving bell.*

Here is the line dashing  through the village of Chinley  ( it might be hard to believe but in 1596 there were ‘serious riots’ in Chinley all to do with the enclosure of the moorland).

Manchester- Sheffield railway line -1

Back home the boys have been helping me excavate an old ‘grindstone’ that had been set in some paving in a neglected corner of the garden  that’s now under a pile of builders rubble left behind after the house was reroofed. (Mr Uhdd plans to take a mini digger to the area in the not to distant future)

grindstone -1

There were times when the project looked like the out-takes from the Flintstones

grindstone 2-1

It did make me realise how handy, if hungry, teenagers can be.

grindstone 3-1

So what am I going to do with it now? Good question. Suggestions to-date, with teenage bias, I hasten to add.

  • Sun dial
  • Water feature
  • Base for ‘bird table’ (Pterodactyl size)
  • Extreme cheese rolling
  • Frisbee
  • Clay pigeon shooting (with RPG)

I can report Spud have a wonderfully muddy time throughout

grindstone 4-1


* we find the diving bell scenario a bit hard to believe….

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.

Golden Hour

There has been little in the way of golden light over the last few days, here is my walk to work on Tuesday morning at eight o’clock.

Winter walk to work-1

I saw not a soul, the popular dog walking and view point was deserted, of dog and views, thanks to a passing snow squall

What, no view--1

I wore my new Yaktrax, I was very impressed. Not a slip or a slide and altogether pleasanter walking on the icy road. 

What, no hills--1

This morning I had a later start  at work and I managed to squeeze in a host of chores  in the hour before I left, very satisfying,  a golden hour; amongst others.

I cleaned  out and moved the hen ark (on my own, a heavy job, with, if I do say so myself, the ingenious use of rollers )  the ark was resting on a very muddy and squalid bit of field. The chicken were so delighted with the new grass in the run and fresh sawdust in the sleeping compartment that they took one look at the weather, felt the icy wind beneath their wings and went straight back in the ark for the day: so much for free range.

Re-filled the bird feeders, which are going down at a furious rate, I need to order some more feed

Spud on Sunday Part XXXXVIII

Spud the dog and I went down the field this morning, to investigate what looked from the bedroom window to be a very strange shaped molehill.

What we found was  indeed, a very strange shaped molehill, the evidence of this could easily have been flattened by Spud before I got anywhere near it with the camera (see below)

Strange molehill and Spud the dog-1 

It is I think you will agree very strange indeed.

Strange molehill-1

When I said I was looking forward to photographing a more ‘sculptural’ landscape, this wasn’t what I had in mind… We’ve had many mole tales here before.


Far from the Madness

Britain it seems has gone to the dogs, actually a pack of  wild dogs would not behave like those looting and rioting in our cities. I look out of the window and across the valley and I find it very hard to comprehend just what is going on; but it is. It’s grim. Other bloggers are writing about it and a lot of people are reading about it, Police Inspector Gadget’s blog had over 33,000 ‘hits’ yesterday.

Lets escape to the seaside


The beach at Slapton, not a beach to dally with, it shelves steeply, as Joe discovered a few years ago when one evening, he went in to the water, after his shoe that had been thrown into the sea when a beach game got a little over excited.

And the picturesque, Gara Rock,

Gara rock-1

You can still see the ancient field  boundaries at Decklers Cliff that are thought to date back to the Bronze age.

feilds Gara Rock-1