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.
This is Mona
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 at Ilam
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.
Hart’s-tongue Fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium) and Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes) decorate the wall behind the handrail.
The underside of the leaves of the Hart’s tongue Fern have stripes of spore sacs.
Looking down through the trees to the River Manifold
Looking back up the steps we had just come down.
The water in the river is very clear.
Interesting rock formations can be seen down by the river.
A profusion of Enchanter’s-nightshade (Circaea lutetiana)
The view across water meadows from ‘Paradise Walk’
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.
The Battle Stone
The description of the Battle Stone
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!
We were advised not to use this bridge to cross the river.
Small Teasel (Dipsacus pilosus) growing with Lesser Burdock (Arctium minus)
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.
Cow and calves
The calves were a little curious but the cow continued calling to them and they stayed with her.
Bull and cows
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!
The next field was even steeper and the grass was dry and shiny.
There were flowers everywhere! Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) (the yellow flowers) and Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia)
Betony (Stachys officinalis)
Devil’s-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) and Harebells
Devil’s-bit Scabious and Tormentil
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.
Betony and grasses
Annual Meadow Grass (Poa annua)
The view from the top of the hill
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.
I think this grass is Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina) It caught my eye because the seedheads were shining in the sunlight.
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis agg.)
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.
Another shot of the same view but from further up the hill
I love this rather untidy scene
Through the gateway
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…
A hedge in this part of the world is a rare thing
A view of Ilam village below us
A weathered Hawthorn tree (Crataegus monogyna)
I like the stand of trees on the crest of the next hill
I used the zoom on my camera to photograph a wind farm on the horizon
A different source of electricity. This may be Willington power station or maybe Rugeley? I know both these places have/had 5 cooling towers and my camera has quite a powerful zoom. I would be interested to know which station this is.
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.
Grasses and flowers
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!
Having had cows, calves and a bull on this post we had to have a lamb too. Look at those ears! Richard called him/her ‘Wingnut’!
One of the many stiles we clambered over that afternoon
The path across the meadow
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.
A Rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia)
Another stile. This time a squash stile’; my favourite (I don’t think!)
We had descended to the valley again and entered Blore Pastures Wood by the stile.
A brown lamb in the late afternoon sun
I was surprised to see Jack-by-the-Hedge/Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in flower this late in the year
Greater Plantain (Plantago major)
We saw this enormous plantain next to the road as we approached Ilam.
Ilam Cross, built by Jesse Watts-Russell (who also built Ilam Hall) in memory of his wife.
The cross was badly damaged in a storm some years ago but has recently been completely restored.
A plaque with all the information about the cross
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 Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) seen on our way back to the carpark
A most enjoyable walk in glorious sunshine.
Thanks for visiting!