Saturday, 30 March 2019

Ascent to the Stars - Stoney Wood, Wirksworth

Last Sunday was a beautiful day, and, looking for a comparatively easy walk, we decided to re-visit Stoney Wood and its Ascent to the Stars. Situated just outside Wirksworth, this former quarry is now a quiet peaceful place for a short walk, or just to find a spot in the sunshine and take in the view.

I say 'comparatively easy' because although the walk is short, it's steep on the way up! I thought it might have been a little difficult for Dylan the dog now he's unwell, but he scampered on ahead and reached the top long before I did.

At the top, the Star Disc shows the position of stars and constellations. Dylan wouldn't sit for a photo by Sirius, the Great Dog, though.

And if it's too light to see the stars, there are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.

The way down was more circuitous and not so steep - it might have been a better way to go UP as there are also art installations to look at (while you pretend you've not stopped because the path's steep).

There's a special charm about Stoney Wood, lying I think in its peacefulness, and the delight of seeing nature reclaim a former busy industrial area. From the highest point, another abandoned quarry can be seen, and I hope this one day could become as lovely a spot as Stoney Wood

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Another Blow

You'd think there'd be some sort of rule about how much heart-break a person could have dumped on them at any time. But no. Just as I'm trying to get over my dad's death, there's devastating news about Dylan the dog.

A couple of weeks ago we took Dylan to the vet with 'toilet trouble'. Since we adopted him at about a year old he's always had stomach troubles (blamed on the time he spent living on the streets), and this seemed like just another bout of them. Then the vet said 'cancer', and 'probably not treatable'.

We'd even been out walking at Shipley that afternoon and Dylan had seemed his normal lively self (even doing his jump-on-the-picnic-table trick), so at first a huge part of me didn't believe what I was hearing, but every test has confirmed the diagnosis, and all the vet can offer is palliative care.

Since then he's had some off-days when he won't eat, or seems more tired than usual, but a Twitter acquaintance suggested trying cannabis/CBD oil (don't worry, it doesn't contain the ingredient that gets you high), so we did, and it seems to have made quite a difference to him. There's anecdotal evidence of it even curing cancer, but I hardly dare hope for that (wouldn't it be wonderful though?). With luck, though, it might lengthen the time he has left, and hopefully make it pain-free and comfortable.

What matters most is that since taking it, Dylan seems livelier and happier. For now, he still likes going out and about, investigating new trees and lampposts, and generally seems to be enjoying life - and that's what matters. I don't want to look too far ahead at the moment, just take each day as it comes, and enjoy being with Dylan.

RIP Dylan  - 24/5/19

Monday, 25 March 2019

Two trips to Swan Lake

Since we discovered 'Swan Lake' last year, it's become one of our regular places to go for a short evening walk, but this was our first visit of the year.

Peering at the lake through the reeds it still looks rather bleak, but blackthorn, wild cherries and pussy willow were blossoming so Spring is definitely here.

We tried to count the swans ... four here ...

another over there ...

ooh, seven swans a-swimming ...

and more!

In all we thought there were thirty(!) on our first visit. They appeared to be grouped in families - two adult swans and last year's cygnets with their dirtier plumage.

There are geese, ducks, and coots too, but the swans grab all the limelight

All the birds seemed to be gathered on the first lake nearest to the car park, presumably where they're more likely to be fed by visitors, so the other lakes appeared strange and mysteriously empty.

There's something about this spot that I find calming, so a few days later we headed back. A couple of pairs of swans had headed off to the smaller ponds this time, perhaps scouting for nesting sites, and I expect that soon the family groups will split up. For now though to see them come sailing across the lake is a wonderful sight.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Cromford again

A dry-ish day with the promise of some sunshine tempted us out for a walk at Cromford. It's a place we visit regularly, so there's probably not much new to say about it.

This time though we walked a little further along the canal, past Aqueduct Cottage, where the canal crosses the river, to the far end of Leawood Tunnel, where the trains come rushing back out of the hill - I've seen them enter at the Cromford end but none emerged this day.

The sun did appear though as we ambled our back back to the car at Cromford Wharf

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Shipley - daffodils and more

A sunny day last week tempted us out to Shipley to check on how the daffodils were progressing.

The return of colder weather has slowed their appearance for now, and there's still only a small number out

Some more warm sunshine though will see this area transformed into a sea of yellow

There were plenty of other 'signs of Spring' to be seen on our walk though - daisies, sloe blossoms and lots of late snowdrops still flowering on the north-facing hillside.

We also had a brief wander round the remains of Shipley Hall at the top of the hill - I'm not sure these are true ruins but the stones mark the footprint of the hall, and a notice board tells more about it.