Sunday, 26 June 2011

Hartington (Peak District)

Notice anything different?  Shorts!  We actually had a proper summer day after a week with highs in the 50's.  It actually hit 80 and was quite warm for us fair-skinned, thick-blooded UK types.  We were wondering if we could actually get a sun burn here, and, yep, you can.

For the 3rd Sunday in a row we headed to the Peak District.  Our base this week was Hartington which is about 10 miles up river from Dove Dale (from 2 weeks ago).  We hiked Beresford, Wolfscote, and Biggin Dales from our trusty Derbyshire Walks with Children (#2, 6 miles).  It's one of the longer walks and with the higher temps we were dragging by the end.  It was about 4 hours (slightly less, as I tried to cheap out and only pay for 4 hours of pre-pay parking -- it was a little rushed at the end).

The pre-amble for the walk stated:

"This circular walk from the picturesque town of Hartington provides a memorable experience.  The scenery is constantly changing -- pasture gives way to a gorge, which in turn is succeeded by meadow, scree-covered valleys and then limestone upland with its drystone-walled fields.  A visual delight with interest at every turn."

I would agree.  It was great, but did I mention it was hot?  You guys are probably all baking in the 90's somewhere though . . . hard to complain.  It was good to see the sun.  On to the photos!

 And we are off!

 More cows than sheep at the beginning.  Even they thought it was hot!

 Pardon my domestic animal fascination

Perhaps it was the recent rains, but we saw lots of snails, and much to Nicole's chagrin, gargantuan slugs (eww).

We had hiked up (off trail) to a small cave.  This is the view back down (to where we were going).

 resting at said cave

 sheep time (this has yet to get old)

Hey, Ewe! (running corn ball joke)

lots of limestone formation (near Drabber Tor)

This, I learned, is scree (avalanche of small stones).  Looks like driveway gravel.

 Heron/egret type

Cool sign.  This was one of the better marked trails.  Of course, we still got lost at the end where it wasn't so well marked (actually it was marked fine -- our guide book led us astray).  Milldale is half way between Hartington and Dove Dale.  We'll have to visit there some time but not on this hike.  We took the turn to Biggin Dale and then looped back to Hartington.

Neat walk through the dale with the lose stone fence and the hills on either side.

This cave wasn't actually a cave but an old mine shaft.  We didn't get very far in it since it got quite dark (and we didn't bring our "torch").  It was nice and cool though.

This was an artistic attempt to snap the spider and web from inside the cave looking out through a small hole.  Too bad you can barely see the spider.

More cows.  There was actually a fence separating us this time.

 Last snack break and rest.  Happy and tired kiddos.

Father / Son Day

Last Monday (6/20) was an "inset" day for Alex.  I think that it is a teacher's work day at school (yes, the kids are still in school).  At any rate, each school does them differently so we end up without any holiday care coverage.  But, on the bright side, we got to spend a day together.  As you can tell, we finally got some sun.

I picked out a shorter hike from our Derbyshire Walks with Children (#10, Dale Abbey, 1.5 miles).  It also was fairly close (15-20 minutes), though not in the Peak District.

He didn't have any particular dirt on Nicole, but I couldn't pass up the photo opportunity.

The main focus of this hike was to visit The Hermit's Cave.  A Derby baker name Cornelius heard a voice (from God?)  to lead a life of solitude and prayer in Dale Abbey in the 1100's.  So, he ended up in this cave (he actually carved it out, so the story goes).  Fortunately, he didn't waste away by himself and eventually built a church, All Saints Church (after a kind donation to get started).  An abbey was later built in his honor.

What's left of the abbey (just the arch).  It's fairly massive  -- you can kinda see from the surrounding houses.

When walking back to town, we found ourselves up close with a herd of cows.  Good thing they aren't allowed to let the bulls run loose.

We finished the walk in less than an hour.  I suggested doing another and was surprised he was interested. We ran back home to pack a lunch and then headed back to our "neighborhood" National Trust site, Kedleston Hall.  We set out to do the "long walk" (3 miles) but got confused and "only" did the "short walk" (2 miles).

Supposedly the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Badger.  Fortunately, they weren't around.

One of the many fantastic views out from the Kedleston grounds.  The photo doesn't do it justice.

After the walks/picnic we ran into town where we dropped an exorbitant sum to see Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3-D no less.  It was quite a day.  Alex mentioned many times how it was the best day ever (or at least this week and even with all the walking).  When we got home he wanted to see when the next inset day was so we could have another day out together.  :-)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A Wonderful Father's Day

I couldn't have asked for a better day.  I got some nice cards in the morning from all 3 saying what they appreciate about me (cooking and traveling where the main themes though Nicole also appreciated the fact that I picked her up on time -- not like Mom).  Alex was overwhelmed with short term memories and thanked me for buying him streaky (American) bacon the previous weekend. :-)

The weather looked a little iffy (i.e. normal) but we decided to power on with Plan A.  Though we didn't see the sun, we didn't get wet either.  I'll take it.  It's still weird to be wearing jackets in the middle of June though.

Side note:  we are pretty far north.  Sunrise is at 4:40 (!) and sunset is 9:35.  Almost 17 hours.  I think we get like 6 hours in December though.

The plan for the day was to take Derbyshire Walks with Children #1 which started in the very quaint town of Bakewell in the Peak District.  We then walked over to the next town (Ashford in the Water) and then a big loop back around via the Monsal Trail (a converted rail bed).  Almost 6 miles this time (that's a lot of rounds of 20 questions and the latest "game" of multiplication (e.g. 29 x 29) -- Alex's idea, not mine!!).  We really enjoyed the two towns and the walk in between, but did not care for the Monsal Trail as much.  It was more crowded and had lots of cyclists so it was a bit dangerous.

On to the pics . . .

 River Wye from the car park (parking lot) into Bakewell

 An old mill (Lumford) on the other side of Bakewell, heading to Ashford

Now, we are getting used to walking with the sheep, but llamas??  (cool)

up close with sheep #  ??

We timed it so we would be in Ashford for lunch.  We tried the Bulls Head pub (from my new book of 5000 best pubs in the UK -- got a few more to go).  This was our best pub experience so far.  We've had better food, but the atmosphere and friendliness were outstanding.  This is what British pubs are all about.

Know how some restrooms are a little ambiguous?  Not these!

and the girls' . . .

I'd like to say it was good planning, but we actually stumbled onto a wonderful random event.  Ashford was having their Well Dressing while we were there.  This is an old custom unique to Derbyshire (I think).  See a brief explanation below (from

The true origins of Well Dressing are lost in the mists of time. According to many sources, it developed from a pagan custom of making sacrifice to the gods of wells and springs to ensure a continued supply of fresh water. Like many folk traditions, it was later adopted by the Christian Church as a way of giving thanks to God for His gift to us of water. Tradition has it that it took on a special significance in 17th century Derbyshire as various villages, notably Tissington, gave thanks for their deliverance from the Plague which had decimated nearby Eyam. In truth they had been spared by the altruism of the inhabitants of Eyam, who quarantined themselves while the disease, accidentally introduced in a package of clothing from London, ran its deadly course. Of course, this does not mean that the other villages has any less cause to express their grateful thanks.

These were beautifully and thoughtfully done.  A real treat and bonus.

 a moving memorial

one for the Peak District

 a sad tribute to a daughter that passed too soon

 a quirky one for the Beatles (I couldn't quite make out who was who)


back on the trail with ominous clouds and a nicely silhouetted horse

I really enjoy walking the hills with the sheep and scenery.  Cool clouds with this one.

another scenery shot (the white dots are sheep)

Toll Bar House (no cookies--sits along A6020 and used to collect tolls I think)

Bakewell is famous for its desserts (generically called "puddings").  It's actually more famous for the Bakewell Tart but I think the locals get a little miffed about that (stick with pudding).

Of course, we had to try one.  The kids got one with ice cream . . . 

and you'll have to take my word for it that there's one under the custard.  Glad we tried it, but no one was a real big fan.

Really ominous clouds near the car park, but we made it (and it really never rained).  This was across the street where they were having a dog show (of sorts).

Side story:  I didn't actually request Korean for Father's Day but Kuk made her first pilgrimage to a Korean store in Birmingham (1 hr away) on Saturday.  She must have spent 3 hours there looking everything over and seeing how much non perishable stuff she could haul back.  So, Korean it was.  I have missed it, but not as much as Kuk and her very Korean son.  They were moaning with delight all through dinner.

Bakewell had an outdoor store (Cotswolds) and Kuk finally decided to buy some walking/hiking shoes.  It's taken her all these years to figure out that a kid's shoe actually fits better.  That does tend to limit her selection though.  Here are her new size 3's (US kids) next to my existing 9.5's (I actually have small feet for my height).

Alex loved this pig that they also had at the store.  It shoots foam balls out of its mouth.  Endless entertainment (especially when aimed at Nicole).

It was a great day.  I am very fortunate to have the family that I do.