Monday, 10 December 2012

Weir, Monsal Dale

Weir on the River Wye
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/100s @ f/7.1, Composite panorama of 3 images)
A sunny but cold morning tempted me out for a walk today. I decided on Monsal Dale and walked from the A6 up to Brushfield then along the top to the Monsal Trail and back along the dale by the River Wye. After all the rain we have had recently the River was well up and much was crashing over the weir. I passed through a field of bullocks near the road on the way back to the car.
Bullocks in Monsal Dale

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Cheddleton Panorama

(Panasonic Lumix TZ10 - 10 images stitched in Microsoft ICE)

This morning, while out walking Button, our dog, I decided to put the Microsoft Image Composition Editor (ICE) to the test with a large panorama. I used my Lumix compact camera set on A mode (aperture priority), with auto exposure, white balance and focus. The 10 photos looked at individually had various tints due to differences in white balance but, as you can see, ICE made an excellent job of stitching and balancing the 10 photos giving a view over a 208 deg angle. The white border at the bottom of the panorama on the right is there because I decided that the auto crop feature of ICE was a bit too fierce as I had hand held the camera rather than using a tripod. I haven't found any panorama stitching program that does a better job. (Click on the photo for a closer look.)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday Morning Walk

(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)
Here are three photos from this mornings walk with the dog. We walked along the old railway line past Birchall Playing Fields in Leek through to and along the Leek Branch of the Caldon Canal and back again. It was a cold but cloudless and pleasant morning.

Sunday Morning Football, Birchall Playing Fields
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)

Brown -leaved Oak  by the Caldon Canal
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)
The above photo is a vertical panorama of three photos stitched in the excellent Microsoft Image Composite Editor ("ICE") program.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Wolseley Centre and Doxey Marshes

Autumn colours at The Wolseley Centre
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/250s @ f/5.6)
Today was a beautifully sunny autumn day so Lyn and I went birdwatching to the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust's Wolseley Centre and their Doxey Marsh reserve near Stafford. There are still magnificent autumn colours on the trees. The photo above shows the vivid orange of a Beech tree and the yellower shades of a Birch (and a few Mallards!)
Speeding male Shoveller at Doxey Marsh
(Canon EOS 60D,Canon EF-S 55-250mm @ 250mm, 1/800s @ f/8.0)
We saw a good selection of birds at Doxey Marsh including Black-headed and Herring Gulls, Lapwings, Mute Swans, Canada and Greylag Geese, Mallard, Teal, Tufted and Shoveller (above) ducks, Coot, Moorhen, Kingfishers, Goosander, Snipe, Blackbirds, Starlings and Crows along with several of the smaller songbirds. A very enjoyable day out.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Sunset over the Peak

Sunset over the Peak District Park
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10, HDR of 3 photos tone mapped in Photomatix))
After several miserable days this afternoon was pleasant but cold. This photo was taken just inside the Peak District National Park near Onecote. The Millstone is the symbol of the Park and is to be found where roads cross the boundary. One of the predominant rocks in the area is Millstone Grit which was used, as the name says, to produce millstones in the past.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Wolfscote Dale

Wolfscote Dale
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/160s (middle image)  @ f/8.0, 3 images HDR in DDP)
Today I went for a walk through Wolfscote Dale, Biggin Dale, Hartington and Beresford Dale in the Derbyshire Peak District, 10 Kms. A pleasant walk with the autumn colours beginning to show. The River Dove was flowing well but seems to have stayed within its banks despite the large amount of rain we have had lately. Some of the fields I crossed were quite waterlogged though. I just managed to keep my feet dry!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Alton Castle

Alton Castle
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10, 3 images tonemapped in Photomatix)
Alton Castle stands high on the hill on the opposite side of the Churnet Valley to the more famous Alton Towers. The original castle dates from the 12th century but the Gothic building visible here was built in 1847 to the design of the Victorian architect Augustus Pugin for the Earl of Shrewsbury, The building is now used as a Catholic Youth Retreat Centre.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

View from The Cloud

View from The Cloud
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 36mm, 1/2000s @ f/7.1)
The Cloud is a gritstone hill between Congleton and Macclesfield in Cheshire. The view above is from the summit trig point looking towards Bosley and Shutlingsloe. It was a lovely day for a walk today cool enough for the 200 mtr climb from the car up to the top of the hill to be quite pleasant! The views from The Cloud are extensive in all directions taking in the Cheshire Plain as far as the hills of the Welsh border, the City of Manchester and the hills of the western Peak District, The name "Cloud" is a corruption of the Old English work Clud which just means hill!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Lyme Park

The House, Lyme Park
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/400s @ f/8.0)
Lyme Park, a National Trust property, is the largest house in Cheshire. Those that saw the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice may recognise it as Pemberley, the home of Mr. Darcy. The house is surrounded by attractive and well-maintained gardens and a 1,300 acre Deer Park.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Solomon's Temple

Solomon's Temple, Buxton
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 22mm,  f/6.3, 3 images HDR tone mapped in Photomatix)
Solomon's Temple (or Grin Low Tower) is located on a hill to the south of Buxton. It isn't really much of a temple being simply a tower, 20 feet tall, with nothing inside but a staircase leading to the viewing platform on top. No altar, no stained glass windows, no virgins being sacrificed (possibly happens after dark!). The weather today wasn't particularly inspiring but at least the rain stayed off while I was there.

The tower was built in 1896 on the instructions of a local publican named Solomon Mycock

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Buxton Billerettes

The Buxton Billerettes at Cheddleton Carnival
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)
Not the run of the mill majorette troupe, the Buxton Billerettes have been providing hilarious entertainment at local carnivals in and around the Peak District for 36 years!

Here's what is says on their website:

"The Billerettes are a majorette troupe with a difference, apart from the occasional girl the rest of the team may dress like girl majorettes, may even look like girl majorettes, but they are most definitely men.
The guys have been proving for years that when it comes to majoretting the guys can show the girls how to give it that special ZING, well at least they hope to bring a smile to the faces of the onlooker and preferably a good old belly laugh."

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Plague Cottages, Eyam

Plague Cottages, Eyam Village
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 16mm, 1/800s @ f/6.3)
Eyam village in the Peak District National Park has an amazing but sad history. In 1665 one of the residents of this row of cottages, George Viccars a tailor, sent for some cloth from London. The cloth arrived somewhat damp and was hung in front of the fire to dry out. The heat activated the fleas carrying the plague virus from London, in the grip of the Bubonic Plague at the time. Within days the man that had sent for the clothes was dead. Over the next days several more succumbed and it became obvious that this wasn't just a normal disease epidemic. The Rector of the village, Rev. William Mompesson, persuaded the villagers to put themselves into a form of quarantine from the surrounding area to avoid the spread of the plague. Over the following months 260 of the 350 residents of the village died from the plague, including Mompesson's wife, Katherine.

Today the village is a thriving and attractive place but its dark history is still remembered.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

British Summer!

(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 22mm, 1/30s @ f/4)
We have just had a violent and torrential thunderstorm. This summer must go down as the worst I can ever remember. At least we got a rainbow at the end of the storm (below)!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Tittesworth Reservoir from The Roaches

Tittesworth Reservoir
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 40mm, HDR from 3 images)
Another photo from my walk last week. Dreadful weather today so I didn't go out! The bump on the horizon  (near the right hand side) is The Wrekin, about 50 miles away in Shropshire

Monday, 30 July 2012

Odeon Building, Leek

Odeon Building
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/320s @ f/8.0)
The Odeon Building in Leek. I guess that at one time this half-timbered, "magpie" building at a major crossroads in Leek housed the Odeon Cinema. It now houses a large antique centre.

Friday, 27 July 2012

All Saints, Leek Flower Festival

Arrangement on the font
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 25mm, 1/100s @ f/5.0 ISO 800)
This year is the 125th anniversary of the completion of the Grade I listed All Saints church in Leek. The church was designed by Richard Norman Shaw, one of the leading architects of the Arts and Crafts movement. As part of the celebrations for the anniversary the church is holding a flower festival and embroidery display this weekend. The displays are very well done by the Leek Floral Arts Group and members of the church. The embroideries include both modern works and past works from the Leek Embroidery Society, part of the Arts and Crafts movement established in 1879 by Elizabeth Wardle whose husband, Thomas Wardle, was a silk importer and an associate of William Morris. The photo below shows a detail from the "Arts and Crafts Stole" designed by Thomas Wardle Jnr. and created by Lady Gaunt, daughter of Elizabeth Wardle.
Detail of the Arts and Crafts Stole

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Hen Cloud

Hen Cloud from The Roaches
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 33mm, 1/500s @ f/8.0)
Another photo from my walk along the Roaches on Monday. Hen Cloud is an outcrop of gritstone on the same line as the Roaches but separated by a saddle. Both the Roaches and Hen Cloud, along with nearby Ramshaw Rocks, are popular climbing areas.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Peak National Park

Peak National Park sign
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 14mm, 1/500s @ f/8, HDR of 3 images)
Has summer arrived at last? This is the iconic sign for the Peak District National Park. The more modern signs are not nearly so distinctive. For those that don't know, the wheel like object is a millstone. The Gritstone mined in Derbyshire was the main source of millstones for England in the past. This photo taken near Onecote in Staffordshire.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Doxey Pool

Doxey Pool on the Roaches
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/500s @ f/8.0, 3 image panorama)
Doxey Pool on the Roaches is a mysterious place. The pool, never dry, sits near the top of the ridge. There is no stream flowing in or out. The water is a dark peaty brown, nearly opaque. Doxey Pool is associated with the legend of "Jenny Green-teeth", a monster that inhabits the allegedly bottomless depths. Jenny is said to have long, weedy green hair, talons and sharp teeth. She will appear and grab anyone who enters the pool and drag them down to their watery grave!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Well Dressing

Brown Edge Well Dressing
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 53mm, 1/125s @ f/10)
We are now well into the well dressing season for the Peak District. The village of Brown Edge in the Staffordshire Moorlands is not actually in the National Park but does maintain the tradition by dressing three wells. This years theme is fairly obvious, the Jubilee and the Olympics. The wells are traditionally dressed using flower petals, foliage, lichens, mosses and seeds pressed into a bed of wet clay. Those in Brown Edge this year have used a large amount of coloured gravel which, while not traditional, stands up well to the ravages of the heavy rainfall we have been having.
An Olympic theme

Monday, 4 June 2012

Jubilee Boat

Narrow Boat Decorated for the Queen's Jubilee
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 36mm, 1/60s @ f/7.1)
This narrow boat, moored at Froghall Wharf, is decorated for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Cheddleton Station

Class N7 0-6-2T at Cheddleton
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)
I had a turn as Crossing Keeper on the Churnet Valley Railway on Jubilee Saturday. Here we see our new guest locomotive, a class N7 0-6-2T on loan from the East Anglian Railway Museum, complete with Jubilee bunting, taking the visitors up to Cauldon Low.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 70mm, 1/500s @ f/10)
The photo, taken from near New Piece Wood, shows Chatsworth in all its glory. In Stand Wood above the house to the right is the Hunting Tower, one of two remaining Elizabethan features (the other is "Queen Mary's Bower" near the house). To the left of the photo can be seen the Emperor Fountain. This was built in 1843 for a visit by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and was, at the time, the greatest gravity fed fountain in the world reaching as high as 300 feet. It is rarely if ever run at full power now but is still an impressive sight for the hour of two it is run every day. By the way, the Tsar never came!

Closer view of the house with the Cascade Fountain behind

The house and the River Derwent

Thursday, 31 May 2012


Edensor Village
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 44mm, 1/400s @ f/10, 3 images HDR tonemapped in Photomatix)
Edensor (pronounced Enzor) is the estate village of Chatsworth Park. Much of the village is owned by the Duke of Devonshire. Joseph Paxton, who designed the Crystal Palace, was involved in the layout and design of the many individually styled houses in the village in the early 19th century. The church is dedicated to St Peter.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Hay Meadow

Hay Meadow near Beeley
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/200s @ f/10, HDR Tonemapped in Photomatix)
Today my brother-in-law and I went for a delightful walk from Beeley village via Carlton Lees and Edensor to Chatsworth. Near the end of the walk we dropped down towards Beeley through some flower rich hay meadows. Beeley village is visible in the middle distance with Stanton Moor the hill behind.

Looking towards Hell Bank and East Moor

Saturday, 26 May 2012

White-faced Darter

White-faced Darter
(Canon EOS 60D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS @ 250mm, 1/320s @ f/8.0)
Today, in beautiful sunshine, I was able to attend a BDS visit to Chartley Moss between Stafford and Uttoxeter. This is the Southernmost location for the rare White-faced Darter dragonfly. Chartley Moss is a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) looked after by English Nature. Access to the site is by guided permission only as it is a dangerous "Quaking Bog" or Schwingmoor; a mat of sphagnum moss and partially decomposed vegetation overlying an underground lake, in places 30 meters deep. In places, the vegetation mat is too thin to bear a human's weight. The White-faced Darter is now found in only a handful of sites in England but is more widespread in Scandinavia and Northern Europe. The individual in the photo is quite newly emerged and hasn't yet got its full adult colouration. The pale, yellowish-green "face" will soon turn pure white.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Bluebell detail
(Canon EOS 60D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS @ 220mm, 1/160s @ f/8.0)
Another beautiful day tempted us out to Consall Nature Park for an impromptu picnic. I was looking for Dragonflies and Damselflies while there and did see a solitary male Large Red Damselfly, but, naturally, by the time I had the camera ready it had gone! So I took some photos of the spring flowers instead and was really pleased with this one.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lathkill Dale - A Walk

In Lathkill Dale
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/320s @ f/7.1)
At last! A glorious spring day. I took a walk from Monyash to and through Lathkill Dale, one of the most beautiful of the Derbyshire Dales. The following set of photos chronicles to walk.

The Bull's Head in Monyash is the start  (and a welcome end!) to the walk. It is of typical White Peak construction having limestone walls with some gritstone as lintels and corners for strength.
The village cross, on the green in front of the pub, dates from the 13th century. Monyash was granted a charter for a weekly Tuesday market in 1340 and for an annual 3 day fair.
The top of Lathkill Dale. At this point the valley is dry, devoid of a river or stream. This will change as we progress through the dale.
Cattle graze peacefully on the lush spring grass at the top of the dale.
The limestone outcrops through the turf frequently. I think of this as "the bones of the earth".
Ricklow Quarry where once decorative limestone was mined. The limestone, rich with fossils, was polished and used in furnishings.
Early Purple Orchid growing on the steep grassy banks above the dale. Rather than walking through the bottom of the dale, I climbed up to the northern edge and walked high above the valley for some superb views.
Above Ricklow Quarry looking east along the line of upper Lathkill Dale.
Looking back towards the top of the dale and Monyash village.
The dale winds its way to the east. There is still no sign of the river Lathkill.
The cliff on the right is called Parson's Tor. The name comes from one Robert Lomas, vicar of Monyash, who in 1776 fell to his death from the cliff while riding home in fog. His horse survived.
 A side valley, Cales Dale, branched off. We will later be leaving Lathkill Dale by way of this valley.
Another view looking east along Lathkill Dale. The name comes from the old Norse Hlatha-gyll meaning "barn in a narrow valley".
One of the stiles along the valley top path. This one had a nicely shaped and very handy post to help me over.
Looking away from the dale, here is one of the many sheep farms on the limestone plateau, this is Mill Farm.
A steep descent took me down into another side valley, unnamed on the OS map, with a green lane leading down to the River Lathkill.
The valley is quite heavily wooded at this point, and from here further downstream.
Looking up the green lane in the side valley.
Getting close to the River Lathkill at last.
The River Lathkill passes over many small rapids and weirs on its way down to join the River Wye near Bakewell.
One of the many small weirs.
The banks of the river have many flowers including these Forget-me-nots, Red Campion, Bluebells, Ladies Bedstraw and others.
Remember the shot of Cales Dale from earlier? Here is the footbridge that is to take me across the river to leave Lathkill Dale.
Looking up river from the footbridge. The stream is much smaller here, only a few hundred meters from its emergence from underground at Lathkill Head Cave. During the summer the river can disappear completely and run underground for a considerable distance.
This attractive plant in Cales Dale is Meadow Saxifrage Saxifrage granulata.
The path climbs out of Cales Dale to join the Limestone Way long distance path and pas through One Ash Grange. The grange was once a place of punsihmentt for wayward monks from Roche Abbey in Yorkshire. This interesting row of pigstys still has the stone feeding stations at the front of each sty.
A small cave at One Ash Grange has been made into a Nativity scene. Perhaps a little out of time in May.
We now cross some very good pasture land with contented cows "as far as the eye can see"!
The dry limestone walls divide up the parcels of good grazing land on the plateau.
A walled farm track leads back down to the village of Monyash.
Fere Mere, seen here, is the only remaining one of five ancient meres which provided a supply of water to the village. The natural meres were reinforced with clay bottoms to assure a supply of winter during the dry summer months. This is the end of our walk. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!