Ancient Estates of the Peak

Last Saturday was a really special day when we led a walk for The Peacock Hotel in Rowsley through the two ancient estates of Chatsworth and Haddon.

In addition to enjoying stunning scenery throughout the guided walk, customers learned about the fascinating history of these two estates.

What made the walk really special was that Lord Edward Manners had very kindly granted us permission to walk through the private part of the Haddon Estate that isn’t normally open to the public.  He had also arranged for us to have a private guided tour of Haddon Hall after a delicious lunch at the Haddon Restaurant.  The staff of the Haddon Estate looked after us really well on the day!

The private part of the Haddon Estate includes the old orchard, and the medieval deer park.  This is a beautiful, very natural looking area of parkland that has largely been left undisturbed for centuries.  Through here, we saw lots of beautiful mature trees, many of which had been planted by different generations of the Manners family.  We saw fascinating lumps in the ground that were massive ant hills (a sign that the land has been left undisturbed for a long period of time), and we were able to look into the abandoned tunnel that the old London to Manchester railway line once passed through.  The estate is managed for conservation and we saw evidence of many initiatives to encourage wildlife, birds and a diverse range of plants and trees.

The photo gallery below shows some of the highlights of the day.

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Walking through the private part of the Haddon Estate

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View over amazing countryside from the medieval deer park in the private part of the Haddon Estate

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Exploring the entrance to the Haddon Tunnel in the private part of the Haddon Estate.  The London to Manchester railway line once passed through here. 

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Beautiful trees in the Haddon Estate

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Haddon Hall

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The gardens at Haddon Hall

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Walking along the track-bed of the old railway line in the private part of the Haddon Estate.

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Looking down an air shaft into the old railway tunnel in the private part of the Haddon Estate.

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The footpath through Manners Wood.

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The River Derwent in Chatsworth Park

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Footpath through Chatsworth Park

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Red Grouse on Kinder Scout

Red Grouse on the moors

There are estimated to be over 5,000 breading pairs of Red Grouse on the heather covered moorlands of the Dark Peak area of the Peak District, so it is not unusual to see them on our guided walks.   The males can be instantly recognised by their distinctive red ‘eyebrows’.  Great places to see them include popular walking areas such as Kinder Scout, Bleaklow, Derwent Edge, and Stanage Edge.

Book onto any of our open group moorland guided walks for a good chance of seeing  them and hearing their unmistakable call.

Red Grouse on Kinder Scout

 

Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzels in The Dark Peak

On our walk yesterday on Derwent Edge we were lucky enough to see Ring Ouzels.  These rare birds spend the winter in the Mediterranean and North Africa, then migrate to the UK in the spring where they nest among craggy outcrops of rocks and among heather between April and July.  The gritstone crags of the Dark Peak are ideal nesting habitats.  Their numbers have rapidly declined over the last 50 years and it is believed that now only around 6,000 – 7,000 breeding pairs come to the UK.

They look similar to blackbirds but are slightly smaller and have a white ring around their necks.

Ring Ouzel

 

A wonderful walk!

Eyam Moor

Every year the Peak District Tourist Board organise a two week long walking festival in the Peak District and today was our first walk in the 2011 festival.

 
On a beautiful sunny day we walked from Hathersage, over the stepping stones over the river Derwent where we saw some newly hatched ducklings.  Then up onto Offerton Moor and Smelting Hill, with a wealth of spring flowers to see on the way, including at lower levels bluebells, wood anemones, celandine, and wild primroses.  As we got higher onto the moorland, the bilberries were in flower along with cowberries and of course gorse which flowers almost all year round (The old saying is that when gorse is in flower, kissing is in fashion!) 
 
Plenty of bird life too, with Red Grouse, Kestrels, Wheat Ears, and Skylarks up on the moors. 
 
We returned to Hathersage over Eyam Moor.  A wonderful day!

Heather Burning

They have started burning the heather on the peakland moors.  It has been customary for centuries to burn small patches of heather during the early part of the year.  This started in the days when grouse shooting was important to the local economy. 

To thrive, Red Grouse need a mixture of different heights of heather and low growing plants.  They nest in the older deep heather and feed on the new shoots of young heather.  As these birds never travel very far from their birth place, the buring of heather in small patches ensures that they always have the right mixture of plants in their own little area.  It is also beneficial to other ground nesting birds.