Its show time on our dark peak moors with both bell and ling heathers in bloom, intermingled with bands of deep bracken and swathes of thick woodland, like a spectacular purple and green patterned carpet draped over the hills.
And so it was that Nellie and I set off early doors to see this colourful exhibition, parking roadside by the viaduct on the A57. Snake Pass, as the road is famously known, was the most elevated turnpike road in England, rising to nearly 1,700 feet. It formed the old coaching road between Sheffield and Manchester, and was constructed by the Dukes of Devonshire and Norfolk with Thomas Telford engaged as the road engineer.
Only one property is situated between the road and water. Ginnett House was the home of Anne Cotterill who was born here in 1890. Her grandfather built the house in 1880 when he retired as landlord of the nearby Ladybower Inn. When the reservoir was being constructed Miss Cotterill refused to be rehoused. The water authority could not force her to leave, even though they had purchased the property, so she was eventually allowed to stay as a tenant although part of her garden and outbuildings fell below the level of the water and were flooded.
It was t-shirt warm but a bit overcast as we headed up the roadway which acts as a drive to a cluster of isolated houses that were once part of the village of Ashopton. Instead of continuing along the bridlepath we did a left to follow a footpath beneath Lead Hill. For a time it was an easy and undulating walk but ended with a huff and puff ascent to a combination of paths on the edge of Derwent Moor. Our reward was spectacular views over an iconic Peak District landscape across mile upon mile of moorland like an ocean of pink and purple waves.
Across the valley were strange shaped mini-mountain summits surrounding Crookhill Farm with a backdrop of bleak high ground in the distance, whilst down below the flooded valley disappeared around corners to the west and north but came to a dam wall end in the south.
As I stood looking with admiration around me I expected a fly past of Lancaster, Hurricane, Spitfire or Chinook but had to be satisfied by a small gaggle of honking geese that love to graze on fields down by the shoreline. Also taking to the skies that day in acrobatic manoeuvres were swifts darting about and feeding on insects, fattening themselves up as they near the date for their mass departure on migratory vacation.
We turned left to walk past a national trust sign for Whinstone Lee Fields and follow a well walked path betwixt a very lengthy drystone wall and beds of bracken, occasionally hopping over puddles and boggy bits where streamlets trickled down to unite with the big water down below.
Our route downhill continued past the head of Grainfoot Clough and over Grindle Clough where we came across a divine little shelter created in a cluster of old barns, one having a date stone of 1647 and the initials LG. A wooden lintel above the entrance to the open fronted shelter was carved with a string or train of pack ponies and their jaggerman leader - Eddie Stobart of the day. Within the shelter were tiny little decorative wall plaques and poems created by children from Bamford primary school over 20 years ago.
A steep paved pathway brought us down closer to the water’s edge where we turned left to follow a walking route around part of Ladybower that in places is the former main road to Derwent village, one of the ‘sunken’ villages, demolished to make way for the reservoir but with its foundations stuck in mud beneath the water.
The track took us past towering stalwart beech in shades of forest green and traditional oak trees that were dripping with magical lichens. In only a few weeks it will be their time to perform when they adorn themselves in golden costumes for the autumn showdown. It was a lovely wander back to the viaduct that shone out prominently before us with its string of arches leapfrogging across the reservoir.
I think I am a princess when I laze upon our sofa
I should be running round the fields but I’m happier being a loafer
I love my cuddles and lots of fuss but I don’t like the postman or the neighbour’s puss.
I love my tea, I love my treats, I relish any nibbles
And I’m happy to snooze for hours on end with occasional walks for tiddles
Peak Ad adventures over the hills stop me getting a big fat belly
Because I really am a spoilt dog. From your ever-loving Nellie xx