Spring

Towards Whinstone Lee Tor and the Derwent Edge
Towards Whinstone Lee Tor and the Derwent Edge

I attended my first Peak District National Park Ranger day since Christmas recently.  It was an easy day with some maintenance work in the morning, scraping leaves off double yellow lines on the approach roads up the Derwent Valley.  It felt good to be back with the shift.  I’ve missed the lads, the work and the camaraderie.

After lunch we all went out on individual patrols.  I like this part of being a Ranger the best.  Talking to the public, helping them, educating them on what the landscape is doing this time of year in the valley.  It was a nice day and I wanted to visit a small secluded valley, not often frequented as it is off the main trails.  Walking down the old Derwent Valley road to what is now left of the village the sun warmed me up, the first time this year that has happened.

I reached my turn off and heading up a vehicle track, stopping off to view an old barn, now used for storage, that sits opposite a derelict farm-house.  What life was like here I don’t know but I managed to conjour up an image in my mind of shepherds working with their flocks.

I continued up an old holloway, the ground still a bit muddy from all the rain we have had.  About halfway up there is an old oak tree, all knarled curling branches.  It sits on top of the holloway banking and looks out over a small dale.  Clambering up I was pleased to see the roots formed a natural seat with the trunk forming a  back rest.  I took out my map and leaning back into the tree settled in to look at the landscape.

There were old lines where once field boundaries had been, these were long removed to facilitate larger fields.  Some had the odd tree still standing in line with its neighbours, and looking at these markers in the land I could reconstruct the way the land used to be.  How long back I could go I guess would have been a hundred years or more.  The farm above is well over 300 years old and judging by some of the field boundaries I would say the landscape was at least 7 – 800 years old.

I sat there for an hour or more, taking in the sun and the landscape.  It is one of the nicest hours I have spent this year.

Author: Paul Besley

Writer I have spent most of my life escaping into the Peak District National Park, I have grown to love the solitude it can bring. I also have an interest in the growing field of psychogeography particularly, in post-industrial landscapes. I am the author of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press. I am also studying Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.

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