Late August or early September is usually the best time to see heather in flower on the moorlands of the Peak District, and this year is no exception. Out of the three types of wild heather in the area, Ling Heather is by far the most common, giving the moorlands the appearance of being carpeted in purple when in full bloom.
This year on our guided walks, we have been lucky enough on three separate occasions to see Ling Heather in its rare white form as shown in this photograph.
If you’re out walking on The Roaches on the Staffordshire side of the Peak District and you fancy a sit down, you couldn’t go far wrong by stopping for a rest at The Queen Chair!
This is a seat with a fabulous view! It’s carved out of the gritstone on the edge of a cliff, and above the seat is a plaque declaring that the Prince and Princess of Teck visited the site on Aug 23rd 1872. Apparently Sir Phillip Brocklehurst of Swythamley, a wealthy local landowner invited the royal pair. The Prince was a minor German aristocrat and the Princess was the mother of Queen Mary wife of George V of England.
If you’re out walking in the area of the Peak District known as The White Peak at this time of year (May/June) look out for the pretty white flowers of Meadow Saxifrage. This plant loves the dry limestone soils of the area and can be seen growing in many of the limestone dales and on the slopes of the surrounding hills.
These photos were taken near Winnats Pass, Castleton.
On Saturday towards the end of our walk we were treated to the sight of the most amazing sunset. What’s more, in the opposite direction to the sunset there was also fabulous pink glow in the sky. This pink glow is known as The Belt of Venus. It can be seen occasionally at sunset and is the light of the sunset in the west being reflected off the atmosphere some 50 or 100 miles to the east of you.
The two photos below were both taken within minutes of each other as we walked down Lose Hill towards the village of Hope in the Peak District. To the west was the wonderful sunset behind Mam Tor. To the east was the pink glow behind Win Hill.
Everyone has heard of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London and many people also know of The Nelson Monument on Calton Hill, Edinburgh. But did you know that in the Peak District we have our own Nelson’s Monument? Not only that, nearby we also have the three historical British fighting ships of Victory, Defiance and Royal Soverin!
Take a walk onto Birchen Edge, one of the gritstone edges that the Dark Peak area is famous for. The views are stunning and you can also up there find Nelson’s Monument and The Three Ships. The monument was erected by a local business man called John Brightman in 1810 in honour of Admiral Lord Nelson following his victory and his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. This was some thirty years before the London Nelson’s Column was constructed. The ‘ships’ are three large gritstone boulders which have had the words Victory, Defiance and Royal Soverin engraved on them like the names on the prow of the ships.
The area between Gardoms Edge and Birchen Edge in the Peak District was once the site of a small Bronze age settlement and was farmed by the people who lived there. If you take a wander around the area, you can find several interesting Bronze Age and Neolithic features hidden among the trees, bracken, heather and grassy areas. One of the most interesting is this slab of gritstone featuring a ‘ring and cup’ carving. It is believed to be a Bronze age form of art. It would be fabulous to be able to look back in time to see the people who made this carving and maybe to understand a little of its significance.
Having found the rock and marveled at it, you should then bend down and tap or knock on it. You will soon realise that it is not quite what it seems! It sounds hollow inside. That is because in 1996 the original rock was buried in a secret location nearby to protect it from erosion and other damage and it was replaced by this polyester resin and fiberglass replica. Just to look at it you would never know.