Alport Castles – Peak District

One of the nicest ways to spend time at lunch is sitting viewing some wonderful wildlife. And one of the best spots to do this is in the bird hide at Alport Castles in the Peak District National Park. From within the hide you can watch a pair of Peregrine Falcons tending their nest or their young. The birds fly to and from the crag face, the nest being out of site of the hide. Alport Castles is a perfect place to watch their flight. It always amazes me and I love to hear the calling. They are often joined by Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Long Eared Owl, although they may not welcome these visitors.

I am not very good with identifying birds. One of my long suffering fellow Rangers is often subject to a very brief interrogation by me as I thrust a photo across his eyes. “Whats this bird, looks quite rare?” “Its a blackbird Paul” is generally the reply.

The last time I was in the bird hide a couple came in. They were in their late 70’s, well togged out for a windy day, obviously seasoned walkers. We got to talking and they told me they had been walking in the Peak District since their late teens, so getting on for 60 years. They had met on a rambling weekend, he’d seen her striding across the Manifold river whilst everyone else was tip toeing and knew she was the one. They walked every weekend and once mid week, went on holiday in any mountain range in the world you could care to mention and generally had a ruddy good time. He had worked for the council and she was a librarian. I find people like this fascinating, love meeting and talking to them.

He picked up the bird log book and looked inside. Same as before he said, always the same. We’ve been coming here a fair few years now and the logs are always the same. Didn’t see the bird. No birds. People just need to stay awhile and look at the view. Everything is a rush nowadays.

I left them to their bird watching and went on my way. I’m missing out, I know it. So I am going to get a book, or an app on birds and when they put the hide back up at Alport I will sit there in the peace and quiet, munching my sandwiches and ticking off the birds. Not a bad way to spend the next 60 years.

You can find the bird hide when in season on Walk No.13 of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press