Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Old Man of Mow

The Old Man of Mow can be found beside the path of the Gritstone Trail almost at the summit of the hill in the village of Mow Cop. 

The Gritstone Trail is a long distance walk of 15 kilometres (9.3miles) which starts at Timbersbrook near Congleton in Cheshire and finishes at Kidsgrove in Staffordshire. The route passes many historical landmarks and features of the area's industrial past including ancient paths, Roman roads, canals and railways. On its way from Cheshire into Staffordshire it takes in Lyme Park, Sponds Hill, Tegg's Nose Country Park, Croker Hill and Mow Cop, it ends at Kidsgove Station which is close to the Harecastle Tunnel on the Trent and Mersey Canal.

The Old Man of Mow is a 20 foot pillar of gritstone which was left standing after the stone around it had been quarried away.

Another stunning feature along the gritstone trail and also at Mow Cop is, of course, the folly known locally as the castle, which was built by Squire Wilbraham of nearby Rhode Hall.  I've featured this ruin on a couple of previous blog posts so I hope you don't mind me including it again.  According to Arthur Mee's entry in The King's England for Staffordshire - Mow Cop "It's splendid hill, nearly 1100 feet above sea level, with magnificent views far in Wales, belongs to us all, for it has been given to the National Trust.  It is marred by a mock ruin of the 18th century...."

What do you think? Is the hill's outcrop marred or enhanced by the folly?  It can be seen for miles around and is such a recognisable landmark.

 Mow Cop is also known as the birthplace of Primitive Methodism.  The present church built in 1862 is on the site of the first open air meeting, organised by Hugh Bourne,  which took place on 31st May 1807 when 2000 people from as far away as Macclesfield and Warrington attended.  The meeting lasted for 14 hours.  Here is a link to more information.

There are several wells around the village including the Squire's Well and the Parson's Well.  These were built almost as shrines to celebrate and give thanks for the abundance of fresh water and in the past, although no longer,  well dressings took place here as they still do in many Derbyshire towns and villages.  I saw three of these wells as we were walking around the village but apparently there are more to be found.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Walk in the Manifold Valley

On a beautifully sunny morning last week we decided to take a walk in the Manifold Valley.  It seems ages since we were last there.  We parked as usual near Wetton Mill and set out on the stretch of the walk which goes towards Thor's Cave - following the path which was once the old railway line that brought ramblers and tourists into the valley.

It wasn't too busy at the mill as it was quite early in the day

We walked along the path until we could see Thor's Cave in the distance.
We could hear and see Peregrine Falcons on the ridge opposite the cave as we walked.  There were also Buzzards whirling overhead too and the shrill call of pheasants.

There were lots of lovely wildflowers in the meadows and woodlands and on the river banks.

We spotted Wood Anemones, Celandine, Dog's Mercury and Butterbur.

When we reached the bridge to the woodland walk up to Thor's Cave we doubled back and went into Wetton Hills.

We walked quite a way up into the hills before doubling back yet again
to join the circular route back to the Mill.

From the hills behind the mill you can see the first route we took out towards Thor's Cave

 And the Mill itself, down in the valley....

glimpsed through the woodsmoke and trees. 

After our walk we drove into the village of Hartington where we visited the Cheese Shop and were tempted to try some unusual cheeses.  A Bowland, a Sage Derby and an Organic Staffordshire with Wild Garlic.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Appealing Whiteness of Spring

I always think of the bright yellow of daffodils as the essential colour of Spring but over the last few days I've noticed a lot of white flowers around........

Trees blossoming outside the local library

Blackthorn (and geese - just because I like geese!) on the Shropshire Union Canal

and in the garden at home, blossom on the plum tree, flowers on the bridal wreath (spirea arguta) and on the snowy mespilus (Amelanchier lamarckii). 

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Year in Books - April

I'm a few days late with this post so I'm rushing straight in with a few comments about the books I have managed to read in March and which books I hope to read in April.  

My first March read was the book I wrote about in my March's The Year of Books post.  The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths was as absorbing and unputdownable (is that a real word?) as I thought and hoped it would be.  I love this series of books about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway so much I had this book from the local library so it isn't amongst those in the photo above which divides into the two sections of have read and to be read.

My second read for March was A Common Place Killing by Sian Busby.  Set in the dusty and dirty bomb wrecked streets of London in the heat of July 1946 the underlying theme is of a general disillusionment and hopelessness of living in deprived conditions where long queues for food and rationing coupons were still the norm and the criminal undercurrents caused by black marketeering spivs and a struggling, understaffed police force made life bleak and sometimes dangerous.  The author, who died in 2012, was the wife of the BBC Economics editor Robert Peston.  After her death he transcribed the last chapters of the book from her hand written notes.

My third March read was by another of my favourite authors Imogen Robertson. Circle of Shadows is the 4th in her series about the detecting skills of Harriet Westerman and Gabriel Crowther.  I find these novels, set in the 1780s both intriguing and atmospheric.  They are well written and well researched.  This book is set in the fictional Court of Maulberg where murder is the order of the day.  Masked balls, automata, secret societies, spies and alchemy all add to the intrigue within this very closed society.

There are links to the above three books in my sidebar.

For April I have just started reading one of the books in the photo above namely The History Room by Eliza Graham so far it's ok but the one I'm looking forward to reading for this month is How Many Camels are there in Holland? by Phyllida Law.  I adored her book Notes to my mother-in-law so I'm hoping this one will be just as funny, touching and heart warming as that.  After that I may just get to The Dinosaur Feather, a Danish crime novel by Sissel-Jo Gazan.  I have books reserved at the library so if they become available first I may change my plans.

Joining in with Laura at A Circle of Pines for The Year in Books

Monday, March 31, 2014

Walking near Water

I've got very behind with my posts recently and have many places we've visited over the last few weeks to report on not least our visits to Stafford Castle and to Cresswell Crags.  In lieu of not getting to see the sea yet this year we have found ourselves drifting towards walks around lakes and along canal sides especially in the warmer, sunnier weather we've been experiencing.  On Saturday morning we walked along a stretch of the Shropshire Union Canal from the Staffordshire Wildlife's nature reserve at Loynton Moss and along the canal towpath as far as the Anchor Inn and back.  Firstly, however, I'm going to share some photos taken on some of the walks we've done over the last two or three weeks.

Reflections on the Caldon Canal at Consall Country Park in the Churnet Valley

One side of the station platforms hangs over the canal

More reflections -  of the bridge over the canal

and of a moored canal boat

 Reflections of boats on Rudyard Lake

I've probably told you in a previous post

that Mr and Mrs John Lockwood Kipling

named their son Rudyard

because of their love of this lake and this part of the world.  The couple met at Burslem here in the city when John Lockwood Kipling worked on the front of the Wedgwood Institute about which I wrote a post here.  Rudyard Kipling's mother was born Alice MacDonald and was one of four daughters of a Methodist Minister.  Her sister Georgiana married the artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

On such a sunny day as the one we chose to walk on

I can see why they and so many other people over the years have loved this place and often return again and again.

Swans on the River Trent 

Which flows close by the Wolseley Centre

the headquarters of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

 At one of their reserves, Loynton Moss, near Woodseaves, you can follow a path through woodland down to the towpath of the Shropshire Union Canal.

It was so quiet and peaceful down on the towpath.  There were buzzards mewling above our heads, thermalling high in the sky, yellow butterflies fluttering around the bright celandines on the bank side and we saw the iridescent blue of kingfishers darting in a straight line down the canal.
Spring seems to be finally with us at last!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Kindness of Bloggers

A few weeks ago I left a comment on Elizabeth's blog 'Blissful Quilts' about how her newly made tea cosy and her lovely Portmeirion tea pot reminded me of home.  The reason was that it all looked so familiar as we have the same colour spotty tablecloth and most of our plates and dishes are Portmeirion seconds from the nearby factory shop.

Elizabeth kindly responded with an e-mail asking if I would like to have a tea cosy to match my tablecloth as she had some extra fabric.  Well, of course, the answer was yes I would.   The beautifully made tea cosy arrived in the post not long after and I'm thrilled with it and it has been much admired.  The blogging world can be such a kind and caring place.  Thank you Elizabeth!

Friday, March 21, 2014

At a Shopping Centre Near You?

Follow the Herd is a National Tour of Elephant art works which is visiting many of the intu shopping centres around the country.  As the Potteries Shopping Centre is now owned by intu the tour is on display there until 6th April.  The tour of the Elephant Parade is designed to raise greater awareness of the plight of the Asian elephant.

We managed to see all the Elephants which are spread over three floors.   Above from left to right -
Spirit by Alex Jones and Mercy Delta, Flower Impression by Pimpapa Dumdej and Love Story by Kesorn Mueanpang.  These were the first three we saw as we entered the centre on the top floor.

Above is Pira-phant by Keith Siddle and Yonis Abdulle.  Behind is Mosha by Diana Francis - apparently it was the story of Mosha that started the idea of the Elephant Parade.

Above are The Butterfly Effect by Jane Veveris Callan and Elephants communicating by Ratchakrit Wichalyo.

I loved the blue and white elephant above as it reminded me of the blue and white china this area is famous for - it's called Sunday Best and was designed by Anna Masters.

I also liked this one outside the pound shop - Little Sweetie by Charlotte Brown

There is a pop up shop where you can see elephants, buy elephants and decorate elephants.

By the time we'd had a look around, picked up the trail and seen all the elephants on display we'd forgotten what we went in for - but that really didn't matter at all.

In the collage - Red Arrow by Richard Powell, Forest by Claudia Schiffer, Stop the Traffic by Christine Wilcox-Baker and Jack on Tour by Ratchakrit Wichalyo.  The next shopping centre to welcome the Elephant Parade is in Norwich.

Hope you all have a great weekend!