annual meadow-grass, Betony, bull, calves, cows, Devil's-bit Scabious, enchanter's nightshade, eyebright, flowers, former industrial landscape, garlic mustard, grasses, greater plantain, harebell, hart's-tongue fern, Hawthorn, Ilam Country Park, Ilam Cross, Ilam Hall, Ilam village, industrial landscape, lamb, Lesser Burdock, Maidenhair Pleenwort, Paradise Walk, Peak District, power station, Rabbit, River Manifold, rowan, Sheep's Fescue, Small Teasel, stile, The Battle Stone, tormentil, unimproved grassland, wind farm
Richard and I had a weeks holiday in the Peak District during August and stayed in our caravan as usual and at a favourite site. We travelled on the 15th taking Elinor with us and once we had set up the caravan and had had a short rest we then drove to Sheffield as Elinor would be staying the week with Alice. We had a cup of tea, a nice chat with Alice and Richard met Mona, Alice’s cat for the first time.
Richard and I then returned to our caravan near Leek in Staffordshire calling in at the supermarket on the way where we bought enough food to keep us going for most of the week. We couldn’t find anywhere to buy a take-away meal so we heated up a ready-made lasagna in the oven and had a very late but tasty dinner.
The weather forecast was for four days of good weather followed by cooler rainy weather so we thought we’d do as much walking in the dry at the beginning of the week as we could. Our first full day was also Richard’s birthday and we decided to have lunch at the White Hart in Leek where we know we can get very nice Staffordshire oatcakes filled with cheese and bacon or cheese and sausage. Before going in to Leek we had to put the awning up on the caravan. An awning (for those who don’t know) is a tent, shelter or canopy which is attached to the side of a caravan which provides a little extra space to live in. We find ours very useful, especially in wet weather as we can keep our soggy shoes and coats out there.
After lunch we tried to find a wood I wanted to walk in but we had great difficulty following the directions to it. In the end we gave up and went to Ilam Park and walked from there.
From the carpark we walked towards the remains of the hall and through the archway to the other side of the building.
The gardens are very attractive and have places to sit and admire the scenery. We made our way through the pleasure grounds, the path descending towards the River Manifold.
Paradise Walk is a Lime tree avenue where, in its heyday, the owners of the hall and their guests could walk and talk and admire the parkland.
This cross shaft, known as the ‘Battle Stone’ has been set in a little enclosure at the side of the Paradise Walk. It is strange to us to find that people in former times were happy to use any material they found to build their houses, even part of a cross!
This was the first time I had ever seen this plant and it took me some time to ID it. My photograph isn’t the best and I wasn’t too sure where to start my search. The plant is often found on damp, disturbed ground near woodland edges and near streams and rivers.
We went over the river at the next bridge and then crossed a meadow the ascent of which gradually got steeper.
The calves were a little curious but the cow continued calling to them and they stayed with her.
At the top of the field was a bull and a couple of cows. Fortunately, they were more interested in eating than in us because we were quite puffed by the time we had got to the top of the field and I don’t think we could have run anywhere!
I’m afraid the photos got more out of focus the further up the hill I got. It was all I could do to keep my footing.
We were glad to get to the top and catch our breath. There was still rising ground to cover but the really steep bit was finished with.
Eyebright is slowly becoming rarer because it is semi-parasitic on the roots of other plants and will only grow in undisturbed grass land. There is very little undisturbed grassland in this country.
Both pictures are typical of cattle-farming country. The well-trampled area next to the gateway and water-trough which in wet weather is extremely squelchy. The bank of nettles beyond the trough…
This is the interesting thing about the Peak District. The whole area has been industrial at some period in its history. We may be out on the moors and seemingly miles from anywhere but industry or the effects of industry surround us.
We began the descent towards Ilam village.
This may look like a rather uninteresting patch of grass with a few flowers in it. However, in this approximately 40cm x 40cm piece of land there are at least three different types of grass and more than six different flowering plants, not all in flower. True diversity!
The path was much clearer in real life than in my photograph. An indentation in the soil; the grass growing differently on the path and the light reflecting off it in a different way making it look lighter, sometimes darker than the surrounding grass. I’m sure it would be more obvious at sunset or sunrise or with a dusting of snow on it.
We had descended to the valley again and entered Blore Pastures Wood by the stile.
We saw this enormous plantain next to the road as we approached Ilam.
The cross was badly damaged in a storm some years ago but has recently been completely restored.
The village was full of people enjoying the evening sunshine. I had hoped to photograph the houses and the bridge but there were too many people in the way.
A most enjoyable walk in glorious sunshine.
Thanks for visiting!