Having seen on television news programmes and social media sites about waxwing birds being seen near Hassop Station, I thought I’d join the flock of twitchers and see for myself what all the fuss was about. Also, I hadn’t seen a waxwing before and wanted to tick it off my list.
I parked up long stay in Bakewell, then Nellie and I made our way to the 14th century 5-arch bridge, said to be one of the oldest in Derbyshire. We then headed upstream through Scot’s Gardens and Wynn Meadow where frozen ground was concrete hard. The temperature that day was well below freezing but there was a glorious blue sky above and the sun’s rays were illuminating everything it shone on with a honey coloured glow.
A left along Holme Lane as far as the 17th century packhorse bridge and then Nellie and I turned right up an old track to the side of Holme Hall which is Jacobean in age and is said to be architecturally designed in a similar style to Tissington Hall.
On the end wall of Lumford House to my left was a blue plaque to Richard Arkwright Junior (1755-1843) who lived there following the construction of Lumford Mill in 1778.
We ascended past Holme Bank Quarry and the gated entrance to the old mine where chert was extracted to be used mainly in the Staffordshire Pottery industry. After the mine closed around 1960, a block-making plant, trading as Smith’s Runners operated here for many years making pre-formed Davy blocks cast from limestone and chert chippings mixed with concrete, used to construct various forms of buildings.
There then followed a fabulous walk over Cracknowl with views back to Bakewell Parish Church which sits on an elevated site with a commanding position above the town.
Eventually we descended to the Monsal Trail with the former toll bar cottage over the road in front of us. We turned right on route for Hassop Station and it was only a matter of yards before we came across the first enthusiastic birdwatchers boasting big telescopic lenses that were aimed at hawthorn bushes either side of the pathway.
I soon got my first sight of a waxwing that was so close I could clearly make out the brightly coloured tattoo like markings on its wings, yellow tipped tail and an impressive crest on its head like a Mohican of feathers. A gathering of waxwing is said to be called an ‘irruption’, and that certainly described the Monsal Trail that day which was busier than the busiest time I’ve even seen it!
These acrobatic birds did not seem at all fazed by their audience, but appeared to be posing right in front of the cameras, hopping and skipping from branch to branch, gorging on berries that looked far too big for them to swallow and then flitting off in a flash and flutter of grey feathers, moving on to the next twiglet stage for a repeat performance.
Nellie and I slowly walked the gauntlet of paparazzi, wending through the tripods and past camouflage costumes.
I’d left my best digital camera at home and took loads of photos with my phone. However, none of them did justice to the phenomena of these migratory Scandinavian visitors that had chosen to over winter here.
We eventually ventured on, leaving behind the click-click and whirring sounds of a chorus of rapid shutter speeds at work.
We made our way to the former Bakewell Station. However, instead of heading straight down into town, I decided on a short detour to see the earthworks on Castle Hill. A detailed information board states that it is believed the Bakewell Motte was built in the late 12th or early 13th century. The bailey, or castle part, was only ever of a wooden construction as no stonework has been found. As well as the church on the opposite side of the valley, the ‘long lost’ Moor Hall on top of the hill made Bakewell a most impressive and important settlement at that time.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: I must be losing my appeal! When out walking with Mum on the trail, we came across a group of paparazzi waiting just for me. After all, I am a celebrity don’t you know, and I’m used to cameras pointing in my direction all the time. These were very big lenses indeed, so I pranced and posed, did my best cutie pie impression, wiggled my bum and made my ears stick up and my eyes open wide. Rather strangely though the photographers didn’t seem that pleased to see me after all. In fact, they appeared to be looking at some bushes and birds instead. So, I did a few woofs to get their attention and that made them turn around. Their faces were really grumpy though. Oh well, their loss. They missed the chance to capture the famous Peak Advertiser Pooch looking her best. Just say cheese and I’m all yours! Nellie xx