Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A Walk, Mapleton and the Tissington Trail

A rather different blog today. I am following up on something that I have had in mind for a while. This is a photo essay of today's circular walk from Mapleton, via the Tissington Trail and Thorpe.
St Mary's Mapleton
This unusual church has an interesting history. It was designed by James Gibbs, a student and friend of Sir Christopher Wren. Gibbs designed many well-known buildings including St Martin's in the Fields in London and the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford. How he came to design this small village curch is a bit of a mystery. The church was probably built in 1752 though records to prove this are missing. No-one knows who paid his fee, which must have been substantial!
Mapleton from the footpath leading to the Tissington Trail. In the background is Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill. Curiously, Mapleton is sometimes spelled Mappleton. I wonder which is correct?

Button waiting patiently for her gate to be opened at the stile. The path leads through to the embankment carrying the Tissington Trail. The weather today was a little disappointing. Sunshine had been promised but it was mostly cloudy.
The Tissington Trail is a disused railway line that has been converted to a footpath and cycle track. The line used to run from Ashbourne to Buxton but was closed in 1963 and the trail was established in 1971.
A log from a felled tree has been converted into a welcome, trail side seat.
Button can't really understand why I might want to stop and take a rest and look at the view.
Not much of the railway architecture remains but this substantial bridge, built from engineering bricks, carries a farm track over the trail.
The verges to the trail are well vegetated and have many wild flowers. This picture shows "Queen Anne's Lace" or cow parsley. I also saw red campion, herb bennett, ramsons, speedwell, buttercups, ox-eye daisies, forget-me-nots and others.
The path leaves the trail at this point. The signpost is short and nearly hidden in the foliage!
St Leonard's, Thorpe. The tower is the oldest part of the church and dates from the 11th century. The round arched windows are typical of Saxon and early Norman architecture. The South Porch bears marks on each side of the outer doorway said to have been caused by the repeated sharpening of arrows. in the 14th century every Englishman was required to have a bow and arrows kept ready for use. Sunday afternoons were to be devoted to archery practice "on the South side of the Church".
The simple and peaceful interior of St Leonard's.
Leaving Thorpe village near to Coldwell bridge is this milestone. At one time this must have been a significant road but now it is no more than a farm track. Coldwell bridge itself is a substantial structure and crosses the River Dove.
The River Dove from Coldwell bridge. We are below Dovedale at this point and the Dove flows more tranquil through woods and meadows.
An unusual gate at Dove Cottage. The footpath here is very clearly marked and access has been assured by the farmer at Dove Cottage. The gate is well constructed and works very well.
A clear path has been left through this cereal crop. Button, however, loves charging through the corn and bounding up to see where she is!
The end of the walk, approaching Mapleton (or is it Mappleton) with the Italianesque church and the village pub.

All photos will enlarge somewhat with a click.
(All photos, Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm)

Friday, 20 May 2011

Yellow Flag Iris

Yellow Flag Iris
Yellow Flag Irises (Cyanistes caeruleus) are now in full flower around many of the local ponds.

(Canon EOS 60D, EF-S 55-250mm IS @ 96mm, 1/1000s @ f/5.0, ISO 640)

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Pilsbury Castle

Pilsbury Castle
Pilsbury Castle in the upper valley of the River Dove is the remains of an 11th century Motte and Bailey fort. The fort was built by the Normans to enforce their rule on this part of Northern England. It commands the main route north-south through the Dove valley. The limestone rock in the photo was incorporated into the fortifications. The remains of the main mound (the Motte) is evident at the site as are the remains of the two enclosures (Baileys). Chrome Hill in the background echoes the shape of the rock.
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 24mm, 1/640s @ f/8.0)

Monday, 16 May 2011

Biddulph Grange Garden

The Dahlia Walk, Biddulph Grange Garden
On a rather dull and slightly drizzly day we visited the National Trust property of Biddulph Grange Garden. Despite the poor weather the colours were very good. The Dahlia Walk has been planted with spring annuals to represent the dazzling display of colour that will be on show when the dahlias are in bloom later in the summer.
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 13mm, 3 exposures blended in Photomatix)

Friday, 13 May 2011

Leek from Ladderedge

Leek, Ramshaw Rocks and Hen Cloud from Ladderedge Country Park
We took Button for a walk in Ladderedge Country Park. This view is from near the top of the park looking over the edge of Leek towards the Ramshaw Rocks, Hen Cloud and the Roaches. The photo has been processed using Photomatix to emphasize the clouds.
(Canon EOS 60D, EF-S 55-250 IS @ 55mm, 3 exposures tone mapped in Photomatix)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Ilam Rock, Dovedale

Ilam Rock and the footbridge over the River Dove
It's dull and very showery today so I decided to upload another of the photos taken on my recent walk in Dovedale. Ilam Rock is a tall pillar of limestone near the Milldale end of Dovedale. I would guess that it is 40-50m tall. It is one of several rock pillars in the dale.
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 10mm, HDR of 3 images in Photomatix)

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Reynard's Cave, Dovedale

Reynard's Cave
Taken on Monday's walk through Dovedale, this view of Reynard's Cave, a natural rock arch in the limestone is one of the many spectacular sights in the valley. Legend has it that the cave was named after a local brigand, Reynard, who sheltered therein before the roof of the cave collapsed leaving the natural rock arch.
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 17mm, 3 exposure HDR in Photomatix)

Monday, 9 May 2011


Dipper in Dovedale
I walked through Dovedale in the hope of finding some more Dragonflies or Damselflies. It was, unfortunately, too cool but I did see a Dipper flying repeatedly out and in to its nesting place in a river side cave. I settled down to wait in the hope that it would perch up within camera range. After about a quarter of an hour it returned from a food search with some prey and stopped briefly on a moss covered rock in the fast flowing River Dove. I fired off about 12 shots and was lucky that one (this one) was reasonable sharp. I had forgotten to reset the camera to give me a decent shutter speed. Not bad for hand-held at 1/40s!
(Canon EOS 60D, EF-S 55-250 IS @ 232mm, 1/40s @ f/8.0)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Pines, Cannock Chase

Pine trees on Cannock Chase
A "different" view of some tall Scots Pine trees on Cannock Chase.
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 10mm, 1/400s @ f/8.0)

Friday, 6 May 2011

Large Red Damselfly

Male Large Red Damselfly
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron SP 90mm Macro, 1/400s @ f/8.0)

At last! After spending the past 4 weeks recording other people's observations I have seen my first Damselflies of 2011. I paid a visit to Consall Nature Park, near Cheadle, on this warm sunny afternoon. I saw 2 species - Blue-tailed Damselflies and the pictured Large Red Damselflies. The Large Red Damselfly is one of the first species to emerge in Britain. I saw the male (pictured above) and some egg-laying activity with the male holding the female (below). If you would like to know more about these fascinating insects please visit the British Dragonfly Society website.
Egg-laying pair
(Canon EOS 60D, 55-250mm IS @ 250mm, 1/500s @ f/5.6)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Dimmings Dale Reflections

My favourite of the day
My Wednesday walk took me to Dimmings Dale near Alton. The valley was a busy industrial site until the mid 19th century. The stream was dammed in several places making lots of pools to power the mill machinery and iron and lead were smelted using coal from the nearby Cheadle coalfield and the wood from the valley sides. By 1850 the industry had gone but the valley was devastated. The local Talbot family replanted the woods and tidied the devastation with the result that, today, it is a very nice valley for a walk.

I decided to concentrate on a few shots of the reflections of the trees in the pools. Hope you like them.

(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Grass Snake

Grass Snake
Today, I visited 2 of our local Country Parks, Consall and Deep Hayes,  to try and find my first Damselfly or Dragonfly of the year. I was unsuccessful in that quest, possibly because of the cold easterly breeze that is blowing today. This Grass Snake (Natrix natrix) made up for my disappointment by posing nicely in the Heron Lake at Consall Park!
(Canon EOS 60D, Canon 55-250mm IS @ 250mm, 1/160s @ f/7.1)

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Cuckoo Pint

Cuckoo Pint
The plant Wild Arum, Arum maculatum, is one of the plants with the most English vernacular names. These include Cuckoo Pint, Lords-and-Ladies, Parson in the Pulpit, Red-hot Poker, Adam-and-Eve, Naked Boys, Willy Lily, Devils and Angels and many more. Some of the names have obvious connections with the appearance of the plant! The true flowers of this plant are at the base of the purple, rod-like spadix. A ring of hairs surrounding the base of the spadix acts as an insect trap forcing the visiting insects into the flowers where they collect (or deliver) the pollen. In autumn, the bright orange-red berries make the plant very obvious. These berries are very poisonous but no-one is likely to eat them as they are very bitter and cause a near instant tongue irritation.
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @44mm, 1/100s @ f/5.0)