The clock is ticking and we are nearing Christmas Day here in Western Europe, though I do know it is already past midnight in Australia. So I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of my followers a Merry Christmas and a very peaceful new year.
The photo below was taken by my wife a few years ago now and features a very festive looking male Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula).
Cheers everyone! 🍻
For the second week of our holiday, we’d booked a cottage near Eccleshall in Staffordshire. In between meeting up with Jude’s family, we managed to explore a few of the local places of interest and below is a selection of our photos taken during the week.
Grass plays a very important part in the lifecycle of the mountains. It’s around this time of year that the farmers take their second cut to feed the animals during the long cold winter. And, of course, where there is grass, you will often find an abundance of tiny creatures, which leap out of your way as you walk along the paths. Below are just some of the grasshoppers and crickets that I managed to capture. (They are devilishly quick at jumping out of the way when you approach with a camera).
I’m often asked what’s the difference between a cricket and a grasshopper and the answer is that, in general, crickets have very long antennae, whereas the grasshopper’s are quite short. The same sort of distinction can be made between moths and butterflies where, again in general, the latter have a sort of bulb at the end of their antennae, while moths don’t and theirs can be more feathery or saw-edged.
From Tideswell Colin and I followed the official route east to Eyam and then north across Eyam Moor. However, as we approached Stoke Ford we veered off east to Hathersage, instead of west to Castleton, to complete our circuit. It was possibly the shortest of the 4 days at around 11 miles or 17.5 km.
Throughout the 4 days we had been in just shorts and tee shirts all day, but the fine weather finally broke as we approached the penultimate pub. So there was only one thing to do – take shelter and wait for the shower to pass by… 😊 Cheers! 🍻
By contrast to all the ‘Edges’ of Day 1 and the many villages visited during Day 2, Day 3 included two very tranquil and secluded riverside walks – one along Lathkill Dale and the other by the side of the River Wye up Monsal/Millar’s Dale. Despite it being the longest day at 16 miles or 25.5 km, the less hilly terrain gave us plenty of time to have 2 very pleasant refreshment stops. The first was at the Cock and Pullet, in Sheldon and the second at the Monsal Head Hotel. From there it was a very easy stroll (or should that be stagger? 🤔) to our finish in Tideswell.
Just in case you are wondering about the last picture… (“Not another beer?” or maybe “That’s a different tee shirt!” I hear you say…) It was taken by Colin at the end of Day 2 and I should have posted it yesterday, but I forgot. I thought it deserved an airing as it captures the true spirit of the walk. 🙂
With another fine day forecast, Colin and I left Pilsley, heading south east and along the road, back onto the official Inn Way at Chatsworth House. The route then followed the course of the River Derwent south, through the very peaceful villages of Beeley and Rowsley before turning south west through Stanton in Peak to Birchover. From there we turned north west across Harthill Moor to Youlgrave.
Around early afternoon, we considered going slightly off the route and downhill to the pub in Stanton, but decided to press on to stop at one (or maybe both 😉) of the two pubs in Birchover, only to find that both of them were closed! (Mondays in the Peak District must be very quiet normally). So, like the day before, but for a different reason, it was a very ‘dry’ day.
Regular readers with good memories may recall that last year my mate Colin and I did 4 days of the Inn Way to the Yorkshire Dales. Well, we had so much fun (how could you not, with all that fresh air and real ale available 😊) that we decided to tackle another of the five routes in the Inn Way Series – this time, the Peak District. As before we only did 4 days of a possible 6, by cutting across back to Hathersage instead of continuing on to Castleton. (See overview route map below).
We had trouble finding accommodation in Baslow, so our first day would take us, slightly off route, to a wonderful B&B, with a HUGE cooked breakfast, called Holly Cottage, in Pilsley.
Our aim was to start at 11am but, thanks to not one, but two, cancelled Northern trains from Sheffield, Colin’s arrival in Hathersage was delayed by an hour an a half and we set off at 1pm. This meant a cracking pace had to be set in order to reach our destination 14.5 miles or 23km later. The route took us over the top of Stanage Edge, then south along White Edge, Froggat Edge and finally Curbar Edge, before dropping down through Baslow to Pilsley.
For the third summer running the Commune have decided to exhibit some pictures along the footpath from Lac d’Arbey to Farquèses. Two years ago it was a series of photos of the Himalaya and last year, some paintings of the Evolène region by Belgian artist, Paul Coppens. This year it’s images by the comic creator, Derib. Some of his stories cover our local region, including the race of Val d’Hérens cows and the Patrouille de Glacier ski touring race.
An old friend of mine, Matt, is camping with two of his friends in the village and yesterday we walked up to Lac d’Arbey and along the path, before dropping down to Les Haudères (for a well earned beer 🍺😊) and then back along the riverside to Evolène.
As always at this time of year, there were many butterflies, but I was particularly pleased to capture a Violet Carpenter Bee feeding on a Woolly Thistle, which, my Alpine Flora book says, is “rather rare” (see pic 18). I have to say, given its stiff spikes, there was nothing woolly about it!
I thought I’d finish this Corsican holiday series with a few other photos which didn’t make it into the main series of posts. I hope they’ve all given you a flavour of what Corsica is like.
You will also see below that when I get bored on a beach, I resort to the pastime of stone stacking, which I have to say is very therapeutic. My stacks (pics 26-30) certainly created a lot of interest for the people who were walking along the coastal path. It’s actually easier to do than it might look. You just need a bit of patience! Of course, mine are nowhere near as good as most rock balancers. Check out some of the videos online, but here is a link to a beginners guide that I found. Happy stacking! 😊
I need 6 months holiday. Two times per year!
For our second full day on Corsica we took a boat trip from St Florent to one of the many fabulous beaches at the northern end of the island with the intention of walking back. We had a choice of either Saleccia or Lotu beach, but the boat company only did return trips to Saleccia, so it had to be the nearer of the two, Lotu. And thankfully it was closer, as again the guidebook advice was a little optimistic on the walk timings, but we had an excellent walk nonetheless.