Saturday, 19 August 2017

Great Northern Greenway

 The last of my jaunts last weekend was the closest to home, but the most strenuous - a walk, about 4 miles in total, to and along the Great Northern Greenway, just outside Derby.
From the name if not the pictures you can guess that this was once a railway and has now been surfaced as a route for cyclists, joggers, dog-walkers etc.

We live in a suburb on Derby's northern edge, and the old railway arcs round us a little further out into the countryside, so it's always seemed like it ought to be a good place to go walking, but it's a bit tricky to reach, and somehow I'd never got round to walking along it.

We started by cutting through the housing, crossing the A608, and heading steeply downhill to meet the old tracks by Breadsall village. This point is probably halfway along the length, and from there we headed out of town, uphill back to the A road - yes, uphill, despite the fact that railway lines are generally flat!  We'd joined the route at a point where a bridge had either collapsed or been demolished for safety, so the path was lower than the original railway line and gradually rose to reach it. Then the track rose even further to the point where it crosses the A road, rather than risk the old tunnel under it.
On the far side of the main road, the route stays up above the old line for quite a while before re-joining it briefly then climbing out again as the original track enters a cutting,then stops short at a road. For now the Greenway stops there too, and we had to make our way home down small, but not quiet, roads.

To be honest it wasn't a very interesting walk. A lot was down in cuttings with no view, it was nothing like as flat as I expected, there was a tricky A road to cross twice to make a circular walk, and the noise from the road seemed to follow us most of the way. It's possibly a better route for a bike ride than a walk, and eventually it will extend to join Derby to Ilkeston which might make it useful for enthusiastic cycling commuters, but I don't think I'll bother again. Still, it's something I've intended doing for a while so I can mark  it off my 'bucket list', and it all adds up to getting out, about and taking more exercise.

We DID find two interesting things - firstly this rather nice bridge seeming to merely lead from one field to another ...

.. and (by the roadside, not on the old railway) this intriguing gate which we've driven past hundreds of times without noticing at all!

Adventures from earlier in the weekend; - Haddon Hall;house and garden, Haddon Hall exhibition, Shipley Park, Darley Park Hydrangeas

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Darley Park Hydrangeas

My adventures last weekend continued with a Sunday morning trip to Darley Park in Derby to see the hydrangeas there. Most of the park is of the trees and grass sort, with space to walk the dog or play football, but in one corner lies an old walled garden, filled to overflowing with hydrangeas of all sorts and styles, and a distant view of Darley Abbey church spire.

Originally set up by Derby City Council and now maintained by Hydrangea Derby volunteers, there are over 500 varieties in the collection, though to the untrained eye (like mine) many look alike.
I also believed that colour was more affected by soil than by breeding, but these were in shades from white through lilac to deep pinks, growing side-by-side.

Most were the huge floppy-headed shrubs you expect, but I was surprised how varied the flowerheads were  - from round pompoms to cone-shaped horse chestnut-style bunches, on some small flowers were ringed by a circle of larger ones, others looked more like a branch of lilac, some had leaves shaped like those of an oak tree. If asked to identify them from a single flowerhead, for some I'd have been at a loss!

hydrangea aborescens "Bounty"

A border of cone-shaped flowered paniculatas

Hydrangea or lilac?
Hydrangea Involucrata "Hortenis"

Oak shaped leaves on quercifolia "John Wayne"

 The only type I didn't spot inside the garden but out in the park, was this blue - maybe it is all down to soil type?

You can find more information about the collection and the work of Hydrangea Derby on their website here

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Shipley Sunset Walk

One of my aims for this weekend was to get out and about, take some exercise, and have a bit of a stay-at-home holiday. So, as it was such a lovely evening and having spent part of the day inside at Haddon Hall looking at the sculpture exhibition, we picked up the dog and headed out to Shipley Country Park just in time to catch the sunset - and, yes, we'd cut it fine, with the sun sinking below the horizon almost as we arrived.

It was still light enough for a short walk up through the trees on Horsepool Hill where someone had been busy 'yarnbombing'. Is this art, do you think? Where I've seen it on metal railings or lamp-posts it's definitely brightened things up, but I'm not sure that trees really need improving.

This viburnum was brightening things up naturally, with clusters of bright red berries and leaves already beginning to take on their autumnal colours.

Then, coming out of the trees and walking down what was once the drive to Shipley Hall, we found the sky still clear and streaked with the last light.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Haddon Hall - Shadows and Whispers by Nik Ramage; mechanical sculptures exhibition

gramophone - turn a handle, the record rotates
and plays!

One of the reasons for going to Haddon Hall this weekend, besides the important one of having annual passes and liking to make the most of them, was to catch an exhibition of mechanical sculptures by Nik Ramage.

Punctuation Orrery - punctuation marks
 move like the planets

From the description, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but, to be honest, give me a handle to turn which rotates a wheel, which moves a pivot, and causes another piece to jiggle up and down, and I'm hooked.

A spirit level constantly moving,
unable to find equilibrium

I haven't posted photographs of all the exhibits - for one thing, mine didn't turn out very clear, and, more importantly, I feel you need to be there to fully appreciate them.

The long and twisted route from A to B

Two Face Clock - the clock-faces turn and
the hands stand still

In the Long Gallery, once used for daily exercise,
a number of mechanical marvels based on the theme of walking

Shoe Cycle

Circle Cycle - no straight-line motion from this!
This was definitely my favourite - a cake-mixer drawing machine. Put paper underneath, pop coloured pens in the holders, turn the handle and a spirograph-style drawing emerges. OK, mine wasn't the tidiest, but it was fun to do!

Haddon Hall - house and garden

Haddon Hall may really be a manor house rather than a castle but it certainly lives up to what we expect from the latter.
It sits on a slight hill above a river, the windows are small and leaded, battlements top the buildings, the stone passageways are suitably worn down through hundreds of years of footsteps, and you enter through a gatehouse - actually two; one on the drive, one at the Hall itself. These days though, at both you're met by guides to welcome you rather than armed guards to keep you out.

The second gatehouse leads to a courtyard with various smaller chambers leading off now housing information for visitors, a private chapel in one corner, and the main house facing you.

Inside, a passage separates the original Tudor kitchens (my photos are too dark to bother sharing) from an open-to-the-rafters medieval hall with huge open fireplace, and gallery above from which minstrels would play.

From here you pass on to smaller rooms added later when fashion moved way from communal hall-style living. The walls are panelled in wood with carvings or intricate plaster mouldings as decorations.

Although old, with most rooms preserved as they would have been 600 years ago, the small addition of modern pieces of furniture here and there makes it feel like a place you could still comfortably live today, though I suspect it would be a little cool for me in winter without central heating; even on a warm, though occasionally rainy summer day, fires were lit in most hearths.

 Looking through the Long Gallery's windows, I saw the sun had come back out so headed to the garden, set on a series of terraces leading down to the river Wye. We last visited Haddon just before Christmas  which obviously wasn't a good time to explore the gardens; being able to was a huge part of why we re-visited.

Formal beds edged in lavender, and echoing the design of the hall's windows, contrast with freer plantings in the herbaceous borders

It's a chance to admire that battlemented silhouette from a different angle

...and after we'd walked back up from the lower terraces, I think we deserved our treat of tea and cake (white chocolate and orange)

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