Tuesday last Tiro and I thought we’d spend a day sketching, as we hadn’t done so in a while. Our destination was the Hope Valley, overlooked by Winnats Pass, Peveril Castle and the Iron Age Hill Fort on Mam Tor, the Shivering Mountain, at the western end. Reasoning that a little fresh air would do us good, we set off with high arty expectations and drove straight into a squally low-lit valley, with sheets of rain and high winds discouraging all but the hardiest sheep and bravest of hill-walkers. There, amongst the folds of the landscape you’ll find a supply of Blue John, (or Derbyshire Spar) mined since roman times, and four show caverns (Blue John Cavern, Peak Cliff Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern and Speedwell Cavern, – which in 1999, was found to link to Titan, the largest natural shaft in the UK at 141.5m) which the intrepid can take a guided exploration around. Whilst dry, caves are not one of my favourite places to spend time. Undaunted, (and as our sketch pads and pencils were not waterproof) we strode out into the rain with cameras instead.
Upon returning to the car to dry out and check our pictures, we find shots of an insubstantial landscape, in which the rain and clouds seemed to distance us from reality. Through the strong light and rain, there’s plenty of rainbows to be seen. Rain lens, lens rain. See what you think.
Firstly, for those not familiar, here’s a map so you can see where different things are:
Our first encounter of the natural inhabitants, two carrion crows. Not exactly the least ominous start of a walk through a place which is most famous for the murders of Allan and Clara.
Still, the presence of another bird outside the Tourist Information building reminds me that it’s “Good Duck Weather”
Our first sight is that of Peveril castle silhouetted against the murky skyline
A little further along the valley floor and you begin the climb up to the start of Winnats Pass. There’s plenty of evidence of the cave systems here, the entrance buildings to Speedwell Caverns can be seen on the left of this photo, with the corner of Peveril castle just visible on the right horizon.
Just past that, and you get into the Pass proper. The high sides funnel the wind and rain directly into us as we walked up, deadening any chance of conversation or the opportunity to take many pictures. The sheeting rain made the colours both rich and deep, and strangely insubstantial at the same time.
Through Winnats Pass, there are other small cave entrances high up in the rocks:
We decide that the original plan of walking through the Pass, over the tops, and down again was probably right out due to the weather. We got to the first corner of the Pass, and the wind hit us full force, we realised that the wind that we’d previously thought was strong was being diverted by the turns in the Pass itself and took the hint. Coming back out with the weather hitting our backs, there are a few more opportunities to take pictures without the rain getting onto the camera lens. The rain eased off, leaving us with fine mist in the air, illuminated by the bright sunshine. In the valley, rainbows came and went with astonishing speed as the sun was covered by fast-moving clouds and then illuminated the landscape:
From the mouth of the Pass, looking east down the valley, we are rewarded with this:
There’s an arrangement of gates and walls which catches my eye, a little further into the sheltered valley, heading back towards the car:
With that, we consign soggy coats to the car boot and head back.