Monday, May 25, 2009
On Saturday morning we decided to walk just a few miles away from home at Dimmings Dale. This is a great place to walk and it was such a lovely morning; so pleasant after all the rain of the last week.
We followed the waymarked path from the side of the well known Rambler's Retreat. I'll tell you more about this wonderful place later in the post.
We left the path above just beyond the wall and took a narrow path which lead to another one on the opposite side of the lake.
On the lake geese were making their loud 'honking' noise and the ducks were chasing one another whilst Mum and Dad Coot were protective of their little offspring.
The rhododendrons on the side of the lake looked a stunning colour against the shimmering water in the early morning light.
We left the main path and followed a smaller one down into the woods - the light effects under the trees were beautiful.
As were the reflections of the trees in the stream which we later crossed via a small bridge and then climbed higher and higher into the woods.
At the end of the woodland path was a gate into a meadow which as an ancient hill pasture had been designated a site of special scientific interest by the Forestry Commission; it was full of wildflowers, mosses and grasses and was buzzing with insects.
We sat for a while on a seat by this lovely stone wall. Looking across the meadow and out over the trees we could see the towers of the house at Alton which was formerly the residence of the Earls of Shrewsbury.
Better known now as the theme park Alton Towers. You can see one of the rides - I think it may be 'Oblivion' or 'Air' but I'm not really sure as I've only ever been in there once when we first came to live in this area, we rode in on the the mono rail from the car park and then out again - as we were looking for Alton Castle on a heritage weekend - a long story but we did find it eventually and see the lovely Pugin designed building and the wonderful wall paintings inside! Thanks once again to Paul and his camera for this close up view.
We walked along the meadow and joined another footpath through the woods which lead back down to the main footpath on which we had started our walk - it was time for coffee and delicious, freshly baked scones at the Ramblers Retreat.
We sat in the garden which was full of covered seating areas and gazebos surrounded by wonderful flowers. The owner came to speak to us and showed us his herb garden and raised vegetable beds and inside the main restaurant and told us a little about the history of the house. When they bought the house it was nearly derelict and most of it was rebuilt, just the front of the early 19th century, Italian style house remains. It was built as a lodge with a lake on what was known as the Earl's Drive leading to the main house at Alton. He told us that his grandmother remembered standing on the corner waving a flag to welcome the new King Edward VII on a visit to the house in 1901.
I can't find the words to say how magical the gardens were, how peaceful at that time in the morning; bees were buzzing around the flowers and the birds were flitting about. Before we left we visited the bird hide and watched various woodland birds feeding. We didn't see the woodpeckers though; the owner told us that they visit much later in the day.