Friday, 28 April 2017

More bluebells - Shipley Country Park

Tell me there are bluebells to be seen, and I'm off like a shot to find them, so when I heard they were in flower at Shipley I had to go!

I've not actually seen these bluebells before but suspected there were some from seeing the leaves shooting up between daffodils earlier in the year.

Approaching from Mapperley, and walking up Horsepool Hill,  I feared at first that the bluebell patches would be thinner on the ground than I'd expected, but as the hill levelled off and the path swung round the former gardens their number increased.

We found some other unexpected flowers - an early-blossoming rose,

and some rhododendron bushes, which, while definitely stragglier than the specimens at Lea Gardens, were still trying their best.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Back to Lea Gardens

 Although it's near to home, I first visited Lea Gardens, near Matlock, Derbyshire, just  few weeks ago at the beginning of April. I'd decided before visiting to indulge in a season ticket, to be able to return and see the gardens as they changed throughout the next few months - and I'm so glad I did.

Last weekend we went back for a second visit, and I was amazed at how much difference those few weeks had made.

 The gardens specialise in rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias, with plants filling almost every inch of space.

The winding maze-like paths lead down the hillside and seemingly round every corner is a new riot of colour waiting to be seen, with flowers ranging in colour from white through pale pinks and lilacs to dark reds and bright yellows.

 I thought the garden had been lovely before, but this time it was just stunning - and some of the later-flowering plants are only in bud. I'll definitely be back again in another few weeks!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Felley Priory - gardens, cake and bluebells

I grew up not many miles from Felley Priory but it's one of those 'on the doorstep' places that somehow I've never visited. However, this year I'm 'staycationing', getting out and about to places I can visit from home, and having heard about Felley's splendid bluebells via social media, I decided it was time to remedy things.

The house itself isn't open to the public but its gardens, which we visited first, are. In front of the house are a series of garden 'rooms' divided by topiary hedges, and leading down to a pond.

Colour at the moment is mainly from tulips but the summer borders are already starting to fill, and I think I may return to see them in flower.

This gateway leads through to the rose garden, another thing to lure me back in summer.

Beyond the formal areas , the garden opened up to meadows filled with late daffodils and snakes-head fritillaries.

We'd intended this to be a short morning visit but decided to fortify ourselves with tea and cake before the walk to the bluebell wood.

It's a fifteen minute uphill walk away but SO worth the effort.

I don't think I've ever seen such a dense carpet of bluebells.

 It's something that's often said, but these really did look like water running round the tree trunks.

As ever, the feel of the place proved difficult to capture on camera - it appears misty which it wasn't, though clouds blocked the sun much of the day and the light was hazy.

Like so many places I'm discovering near to home, I wonder why I'd never visited before. It's certainly a place I'll be back to!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Too much time on my hands ...

I always had an idea in my mind that when the children had grown and left home, I'd have plenty of time to go out and about and DO things - potter round local gardens and stately homes, nip off to the seaside without a moment's notice, take extra long summer holidays, that kind of thing. 
But oddly I'm finding it doesn't work like that at all, and it's one empty nest problem I'd never anticipated.

Throughout the children's years at school our holidays were obviously planned around term-times - we'd go away for a day or two at Easter, a week at Spring Bank holiday, a fortnight in summer, and another couple of days at Autumn half-term holidays. Now, of course, all that has changed. We could go away anytime we choose - so why don't we?
Now, in part, there's a problem with my parents' health, so I wouldn't want to be away from home for long - but I could still dart away for a night or two, and certainly there's nothing to stop me going out for the day. All I need to do is decide WHEN, and, with nothing steering me towards those traditional holiday times, when it's go away or go without, I just talk about taking some time out but always find a reason for it to not be right now.

Yes, there always seems something to be done - the lawn to cut, ironing pile to tackle, a bathroom to refit - but a greater problem seems to be that nothing is compelling us to go away on certain dates. Easter has come and gone with us thinking we'll go somewhere when the weather's nicer, or when there are less crowds (after all everyone's busy flocking to the seaside at Easter). Soon it will be May Day (same logic applies), then, at the end of the month, Spring Bank Holiday (such crowds rushing to the coast!), and before you know it schools' summer holidays, then September and getting a bit chilly.

 It actually seems that having time on our hands means we do nothing with it. So it's time to seize the day, get out there and do things! 

For starters, this next week or so I intend to be out and about looking at bluebells. It's only a minor achievement because really my decision's being forced on me again - due to their short flowering period, if I don't go now, I'll miss them. After that I think it's time to stop prevaricating, maybe take a pin and stick in the calendar if I can't decide any other way, and organise a holiday!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

New Places to Explore on my Doorstep

Old quarry sides and view to Black Rock
With glorious weather this past weekend, I didn't want to stay in doing 'chores' all the time, but didn't have the time to travel a long distance to somewhere new, and, as I'm having to holiday mostly at home this year, I wanted to find somewhere new to visit. Fortunately we found two interesting, 'new' places to explore without too long a drive.

First, on Saturday evening we decided to find out what lies behind some rather splendid wrought iron gates just outside Wirksworth, heading up the road to Middleton. Probably anyone living nearby knows perfectly well what to expect, but we'd driven past many times without stopping, and I was eager to investigate. Inside, an old quarry has been transformed, its precipitous sides smoothed out and planted with trees, and is now a lovely tranquil spot for a short walk, Stoney Wood.

It's not too gentle on the legs though - the signpost says "Ascent to the Stars" and although this refers to the Star Map (an art installation with a map of the heavens illuminated by solar power) it's certainly steep. Stopping to admire the pieces of sculpture along the route is a good way to catch your breath!


happy walker

The views at the top are definitely worth the effort, looking out over Black Rock on the opposite side of the valley, and south towards Derby, though we discovered parking at the top for the less able visitor. We were just in time to catch the sunset before heading back down to the car.

Sunday afternoon was supposed to be a gentler walk - we headed to Cromford intending to follow one of our regular walks, along the canal with the sun shining, and celandines and primroses flowering beside the old tow path.

High Peak Workshops

From the workshops at High Peak Junction we carried on intending to pass over the viaduct and head up the filled in spur towards Lea Bridge and back in a short circular route, but ...

Viaduct over the River Derwent
... at the ruined cottage just over the viaduct I spotted the bright green of a nature reserve information board partway up the hillside and went to investigate.

Having scrambled this far, we thought we'd climbed the steepest section so carried onwards and upwards, through woods which will soon be carpeted in bluebells (must go back next month!) to an open meadow, before heading back down by a gentler route, ending up more or less where we'd originally intended to go.
I can easily see this becoming a regular addition to our walks at Cromford. It's a bit more tasking than a stroll along the canal - but nothing like as steep or high as the climb through Bow Wood on the opposite hillside.