As the wind and snow had mostly disappeared, I could finally get out to discover more of the surrounding area. My daughter was home from uni and wanted to practice using her new camera so she came along too.
From our house in Disley we took the path almost opposite which leads to the Peak Forest Canal. Turning right we headed along the canal path towards New Mills. We continued past the Swizzles factory and New Mills Canal Basin until we reached a footpath across the fields down to the River Goyt.
Beautiful iridescent black feathers on this duck
Didn’t expect to see a lama!
I didn’t see as much wildlife as I expected. In the trees on the opposite side I caught a glimpse of a squirrel racing through the branches. Most of the ducks and geese were gathered in the canal basin amongst all the moored canal boats. There was a large friendly black duck with beautiful feathers that changed colours as he moved, which I’ve not seen before. Some of the residents of the boats further down the canal had seed feeders and fat balls in the hedges for the birds which attracted plenty of sparrows and I got a brief glimpse of a long tailed tit which I’ve not seen since I was a child.
But, quite a surprise, were the lamas in a field as we approached the river! They were quite happy munching on the grass. Despite plenty of effort to attract their attention they ignored us completely, much to Esme’s frustration, as she wanted a photograph of one with it’s head up.
Following the river brought us to Torr Vale Mill which used to be a cotton mill and is now being developed into office space and an arts centre. Along side the mill is a beautiful double arch viaduct and a weir. Leading from this stunning area is the Millenium Walkway, suspended over the rushing water. We crossed the bridge over the river at the end of the walkway and climbed up into New Mills. We were then able to rejoin the canal at the basin and retrace our steps back home.
I’m still amazed at the beauty and peacefulness just over the road, but not visible, from my house. I can see myself using the canal path to get the New Mills all the time and can’t wait to see it come to life through the Spring and Summer.
About four times a year I’m very fortunate to have a weekend break with a very special friend, Vikky. It’s my seaside sanctuary. We’re barely in contact in between and spend 48hrs chatting, walking by the sea, eating cake and drinking Prosecco!
We head over to Vikky’s beautiful flat overlooking the sea at Scarborough, a sanctuary in itself. All troubles and worries disappear as I walk through the door. The following day is a long walk, whatever the weather, usually along the coastline. A shorter walk is squeezed in on Sunday before heading home, refreshed and revived!
Last weekend was to be our first Seaside Sanctuary of 2018, and it had been a while as the previous one was in October. I was really looking forward to it.
Then the wind and snows arrived.
We both kept our fingers crossed and an eye on the weather forecasts. Here, on the edge of Derbyshire we had a fair amount of snow but the main roads were clear. Our house has overhead electricity cables and the first power cut came on Thursday (only for a few hours). I still kept my fingers crossed.
Vikky lives in a small village outside Doncaster. She’d not had too much snow and even the track to her house was drivable.
Reports from the east coast weren’t good though, very high winds, rough seas and drifting snow.
I was thinking it would be better for me to travel over to Doncaster using the motorways, when it was reported that lots of motorists were trapped on the M62, near Leeds, in drifting snow, the very part I would need to travel on. At the time I wasn’t aware just how bad the situation was for these poor people.
Friday morning, decision time, to go or not to go? It looked as though the route from Vikky’s house to Scarborough was probably going to be OK but part of my route to Vikky’s house was not. Many people were still trapped on the M62 and, according to the AA website, several roads on other options I had were closed too. Then came another power cut, which helped me make up my mind. I can’t work without power or internet. So I abandoned my partner and son (!!) and headed out, with plenty of warm clothes and a full container of spare screen wash in the boot of my car.
A couple of the roads I’d thought of using were closed, but I just kept to the cleared ones, heading out towards Chesterfield. In some places the snow was piled up at the sides of the road much higher than the car. This was my first thankful moment, to be living near vast farmlands on the peaks where farmers have no choice but to get out to their livestock. It ended up a very easy, stress-free, beautiful journey. Not many people were out and the views were stunning.
[Just in case you thought I’m not a very nice person, leaving my loved ones with no heating or power, it was all fixed before I arrived at Vikky’s house].
The second leg of the journey, to Scarborough, turned out to be trouble free too. My second thankful moment.
We’d heard on the radio that the stranded motorists on the M62 had finally been able to move. Other dreadful stories of people stranded all night on trains and still more people with homes that had no water or heating. To arrive safe and sound in Scarborough was a very long third thankful moment.
The weekend was lovely. Friday evening and night was very windy, the waves were breaking far out in the very churned up sea. Some roads and paths were fenced off due to flying roof tiles. This died down quite a bit by Saturday. We didn’t go too far away for our walk, just to Whitby for our very favourite walk, along the beach to Sands End and back. The power of the sea was very evident, with huge boulders washed up on the beach. I’m always in awe of the sea; it’s power and beauty. Every walk along the same stretch of beach is always different, but always restorative and always full of thankful-to-be-alive moments.
Sunday brought some rain and the start of the melt. Almost all the roads were clear and life was returning to normal for much of the UK.
A week later and I still think about how lucky I was to be able to go on my Seaside Sanctuary when so many others were having an awful time, to experience and enjoy nature and to spend time with a special friend.
Before moving here 10 weeks ago, I’d driven through on the A6 many times but I knew nothing about the surrounding countryside. I get an amazing view from my front door over adjoining villages and Kinder Scout, the highest hill in the Peak District, but so far I’ve only looked at it and taken photos.
Roger grew up in Disley and has many tales of mischief and adventures which took place all around where we now live. Sunday was finally a sunny, if very cold, day and he could keep his promise to start showing me my way round the many footpaths.
Wrapped up warm and reluctantly accompanied by two of the teenagers, we set off down towards the Peak Forest Canal, which is barely 0.5km away. It’s a wonderful waterway and I’ll be investigating it more in the near future. There were several inhabited houseboats moored alongside the pathway. I imagine the warmer weather brings this stretch of water alive with many more boats, people and wildlife. The ducks and geese were keen to say hello, but they weren’t so happy when they discovered we hadn’t brought any food with us!
Bridge at Disley on the Peak Forest Canal
House and houseboat on the Peak Forest Canal
We discovered community built dirt jumps just off the path, which perked up the male teenager. I think he might be back with his bike! Just a few metres further on, wooden steps down through the trees led to a view of a steep drop down to a fast flowing run off from the canal.
Near the 2km mark, gazing out over the fields towards Hague Bar we spotted a large bird of prey drifting on the thermals. On the other side of the canal, which still had icy patches, were happily grazing sheep.
View from the Peak Forest Canal at Disley
Icy canal and grazing sheep
A cheeky robin watched us cross the canal to start heading back up through farmland onto the busy A6, which was a very sudden sharp contrast to the peacefulness of the canal. A quick refreshment break at The Rams Head and we were ready to complete the second half of our loop.
Climbing up again, through the gardens of St Mary’s Church there were plenty of beautiful woodland plants to brighten up the way. Following the footpath with fields, and the odd house, either side I felt very lucky to be living so close to such stunning scenery.
Just before turning left at around the 5km mark, I could see The Cage (an iconic folly that can be seen for miles) at Lyme Park and Bollinhurst Reservoir. I’ve visited Lyme Park, and The Cage, many times before but it was a surprise to me that I’d never seen this reservoir and didn’t even know it existed. I think I might be taking a walk in this direction before long!
Crossing Buxton Old Road we were now heading downhill, along a track which resembled a stoney old river bed and back to where we started.
What a fabulous couple of hours. I can’t wait to discover more of this beautiful area.