Off the Beaten Track...

23rd August 2011
We left last months missive with the promise of a full weekends photographic tour of the Derbyshire Peak District, having picked the general area because of its reputation for great walking, the high quality of the views captured by other visiting photographers – and the fact that it was handily close to my daughters chosen place of study so it allowed us to catch up with her for the weekend. My Good Lady also insisted that we ‘stay away from the main roads’ as far as the accommodation was concerned so we weren’t bothered by passing traffic – and went on to book a working farm that had very tastefully converted a barn to house visitors to supplement its income. It was so remote it didn’t appear on anything other than an OS map, something that didn’t appear to be important at the time. All that was left was to identify likely locations to shoot, pack the walking boots and a couple of bottles of red and head for the hills – not something you get to say very often if you stay in Suffolk.

Delays on the way to Buxton meant arriving in the dark – and it was then that the distance of the farm from the main road became apparent. What was also apparent was that streetlights were obviously considered unnecessary on anything less than a major trunk road and that it was therefore a very dark night. Modern technology was overwhelmed and bamboozled very quickly with two iPhones and a GPS unable to come up with any suggestions for the final route to the farm between them – and in fact the whole weekend was spent mostly out of reach of the fingertips of the mobile networks – bliss! We quickly deployed the backup solution of a map-reading Son and the aforementioned OS sheet and picked our way past campsites, climbed into seemingly impassable valleys and over hilltops, skirted other farmhouses and a phone box that had mysteriously been painted grey and, eventually – and rather surprisingly, arrived at Stoop Farm! Hurrah! Now for one of those bottles of red.

Sunrise was scheduled a few minutes later than at home at around six o’clock, and with everything handily placed and relatively easy to get to, the alarm was set for 5am. It should have been 5:15, but I had to navigate back out from the farmhouse to a different main road in the other direction and I didn’t want to repeat the entertainment of the previous evening on my own. Fernilee Reservoir looked promising from the map, so thats where we headed. I’ll leave you to judge the results for yourself.

Fernilee was followed by Chatsworth (a really good day out...), the pleasures of Bakewell and Matlock and by early morning rises to Monsal Head high above the river Wye where the sun was initially reluctant to show – but then popped out through a thin layer of mist and backlit the fields, valley and a herd of curious cows, with gorgeous light. A local walk was in order for that day, followed by a stroll through Dovedale the day after. What a great weekend! Great locations, great weather (relatively – this is England after all), a chance to walk and spend time with the family – without mobile interruptions all the time, and cooked farmhouse breakfasts that kept you going right up to a cup of tea and a little something in mid afternoon. I swear the yolks of those eggs were orange...

BUT – was it any good photographically though? Maybe you could let me know...

Cheers

Graham

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