Posted by: Ross Gardner | October 15, 2017

The Peak and Beyond

The Big Trip returns to England after a fine time indeed in Wales.  First stop the Peak District……

Chee Dale (scaled)

The Peak National Park – spanning the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire – is an area of contrast. To the north is a hard landscape, of gritstone moorland, where the Pennines rise and extend into the rugged spine of Northern England. To the south is a softer country, where rivers have cut into green hills, carving valleys and gorges into the yielding limestone rock beneath, such us here at the very lovely Chee Dale, through which the River Wye runs…..

Dipper (scaled)

…… and birds like the Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) glean their living. These are birds of swift-flowing rivers. They take their name from the habit of bobbing or ‘dipping’ on boulders and their sustenance from the small invertebrates in and around the water, even swimming fully submerged in pursuit of their prey. No upland river is complete without its Dipper.

Trough of Bowland - Langden 4 (scaled)

Moving further North and to the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire. This is the Trough of Bowland, with the Langden Brook winding its way beneath dark, heather-clad hills, a wonderfully remote and little-mentioned corner of upland Britain.

Malham Cove (scaled)

A short way north again and the larger expanse of the Yorkshire Dales National Park awaits, a splendid swathe of moorland and limestone hills, the latter scarcely more impressively exhibited than at the much-visited Malham Cove.

Malham Cove - limestone pavement (scaled)

This part of the county is famous for its areas of limestone pavement, curious looking rock-from of horizontal slabs of fissured stone. Its formation is the result of glaciers during the last Ice Age scouring away the upper surface of the land to expose the rock underneath. Once exposed this rock is then vulnerable to the weathering caused by naturally acidic rain. This is what creates the fissures (known as grykes) along weak points in the soluble limestone bed.

Harebell (and pavement) 2 (scaled)

These grykes provide niches for a range of often scarce plants. The Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) may not be rarity, but was still no less of a delight to discover growing among the rock.

Grey Heron in river 2 (scaled)

Back south once again through the Peaks and again also to the wonderful River Wye and more close-encounters with its wildlife. This Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) was the very image of stalking concentration, staring among the ripples of the ever-restless surface.

 


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