I have just returned from my ‘boys’ weekend away in the Peak District, walking, laughing, drinking and eating, and I now need a rest! We set off at 6.30 Saturday morning, 7 of us in 2 cars, and drove North. First stop was Bakewell where breakfast was taken. We then drove a couple of miles out of the town to a spot known as Monsal Head where we parked up and embarked on our hike. We made a steep and rapid descent to the floor of the Wye Valley (not that one), and followed the swollen river for some distance. Within 2 minutes, along a 100 metre stretch of the river we spotted three Dippers hopping and bobbing at the edge of the boiling water; they are beautiful birds and are always a treat to observe.

I won’t describe the whole walk, but some of the highlights were a conveniently located pub at the half-way mark where we were able to rehydrate. We had all made the mistake of wearing too much, having been duped by the weather forecast that had suggested chilly conditions, so most of the group was cooking gently in its own juices inside layers of waterproof and thermal clothing. Don’t ever believe the lies on the labels on walking gear when you are purchasing it; for ‘breathable’ and ‘waterproof’ fabric read ‘wearable sauna’ that allows anything more than light rain through, but doesn’t allow moisture out in the other direction. I suppose the top of the range gear that serious hikers wear are as described, but I’m too tight to buy that stuff, so I guess I will have to live with the consequences. I have got some half decent boots though, so my feet remained dry, even in the wet and mud that was ever present on the route. As the light began to fade we arrived back where we had started, after a rewarding and strenuous (in places) walk of at least 11 miles, where a conveniently located pub stood overlooking the valley.

From the Youth Hostel in Hartington, where the seven of us shared a dormitory, we walked down to the village for dinner and a couple of pints. Soon after 11.00 we were all in bed. We were all tired after a long day of travelling, walking and socialising, so for some sleep came soon after their heads hit their pillows; not so for me. As a very light sleeper I was fearful of snoring interrupting my slumber, so I lay there listening for it, but it was surprisingly quiet. However, snoring was the least of my problems. You may or may not know this, but men of a certain age are renowned for having to get up in the night. Middle-aged men that have taken drink are certain to get up in the night! There followed a constant stream of traffic going to and from the toilet, which was along the corridor outside our room. Some of the group were more stealthy than others at exiting and entering the room, and some were more agile than others at descending and ascending from their bunk beds. I heard them go and I heard them return, I heard the Hostel clock chime 4 and 5 before snatching some desperately needed sleep; then guess who was first up in the morning?

We had decided on a shorter walk on Sunday of approximately 6 miles, before heading home. The chosen route was to take in the impressive ‘Thor’s Cave’ sitting high above the Manifold valley. The rain was falling steadily but we decided to take on the challenge, and it was definitely worth it. The view from the large opening in the cliff face is beautiful, as is the cave itself. Embedded In the limestone rock floor of the cavern you can see fossilised crustacea, dating from a time when the site would have been located south of the equator in a warm shallow sea. These facts were taken from an information board that sits below the cave on the valley floor. We completed the walk, a rag tag bedraggled bunch, and headed south, damp, slightly whiffy, but happy.

   

Last week when the weather was really unpleasant, my Robin friend kept making visits into the potting shed, flitting through from the greenhouse. With each sortie it became more bold, until it was perching on the bench only a metre or so from me. My ambition is to get it to eat from my hand.

Right, let’s get down to veg business. This week there will be savoy cabbages, cauliflower, curly kale, chard, beetroot, mushrooms, parsnips, swede, leeks, onions, red onions, garlic, turnips and carrots. There are oranges, lemons and kiwi fruit. Apologies for the lack of apple juice last week, I thought that the next batch was going to be ready to collect early in the week, but it won’t be until Tuesday of this week, so I am including it in the shop even though I don’t yet have it.

The ground is now so saturated that I will be doing little to nothing on it until it dries out considerably. At the time of writing the weather forecast for the week ahead is dry, which will provide some welcome relief. Until I can do some field work I will get on with general tidying up, and will make a start on pruning the apple trees in the orchard. There is hedging to do too, but after the weekend I have had I think I will steer clear of it until my knee has recovered.

I will be back at Wyken on Saturday, and Jennifer will be at Steeple Bumpstead village hall for the Farmers Market.

Right it’s getting on for bed time and hopefully an undisturbed night. I used muscles over the weekend that have lain redundant for some time so I fully expect a few aches and pains when I awake; I will be the straight legged tin man look-a-like tomorrow.

Have a good week.

Phil

 

 

 

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