Roachside Cottage

Part of the living landscape of the Roaches

Peak District National Park - Upper Hulme, Nr Leek ST13 8UB

The weather forecast is set to get hot and dry again!

In the Staffordshire Moorlands we've had very little rainfall all through the spring and summer. The constant wind through the spring dried out the surface and the ground covering foliage and the spectacular heatwave we experienced last week just added to the tinderbox conditions.

We drove home across the Peak District last week watching a huge plume of smoke rising from suspiciously close to where we live. Arriving home we were confronted with six fire tenders, 3 from Cheshire & 3 from Staffordshire, parked in our driveway and blocking the farm track outside.

The fire came within 3 metres of our stables, our bathroom is flecked with bits of ash & our neighbours have lost a garage, all their garden machinery & new summer house.

It’s only 4 years since we had a similar experience at Roachside Cottage & 80 hectares of moorland burned for four weeks.

What started this fire? We’ll never know, but it’s certain that some careless or stupid human behaviour is at the root.

Please, whenever the countryside is as dry as this (we’ve had almost no measurable rain since early April), take care!

No barbecues, No cigarettes, No naked flames

This is the view from our dining room window

Fire crew amongst our new shrubbery - but they're not watering our plants.

This is as close as I want fire to get to my house!!

The Buxton International Arts & Literature Festival has come to an end.

The BIF has been back in full force since the difficulties of the pandemic lockdowns. Our minds have been stretched, we have had our perceptions and biases challenged and we're in mentally better shape than a couple of weeks ago.

Our bookshelves have  been further overloaded to breaking point and our bank balances correspondingly reduced.

We've listened to celebrated illuminati from the pinnacle of politics, academia, journalism and even the President of  the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

It's now time to go home and read all those new books, do more research into issues we've learned more about and digest this blizzard of information.

The BIF is a wonderful fortnight where us oldies can exercise our minds in the hope of warding off mental deterioration. Of course it isn't just for oldies!

It's also a fabulous fortnight for all manner of music and arts events for everyone with a few grey cells to rub together and takes place in venues all over town. 

Look out for it next year!

Not at Roachside, but not far away & opposite our home, a self-builder is renovating an old stone cottage not unlike Roachside Cottage.

In creating a new access, they’ve dug out a small mountain of “Roaches Series” gritstone & they’re employing a stone mason to put it to good use.

For the record, this type of stone was laid down in a gigantic  river delta bigger than that of the Mississippi, about 315 - 326 million years ago(Namurian Period). It extends in a great swathe from Mow Cop (where we live), across the Dark Peak and resurfaces in the Ardennes in Belgium. 

Isn't it wonderful that there are still people who can do this massively labour-intensive and skilled work and that there are still people prepared to spend the money to employ them to carry on their craft?

Top marks I say!

 It’s been evident for about a week now that the pigeons who nest in our garden & outbuildings have been finding early ripening bilberries - the purple pigeon poo splashed all over the place is a bit of a giveaway!

July marks the start of the moorland Bilberry season. These precious fruits grow wild all over the gritstone moorland and are plentiful on The Roaches. 

These wonderful blue pearls are the culinary highlight of the Peak District year & the transformation that adding a small handful to the filling of an otherwise "ordinary" apple pie is beyond mere words can describe.

Certainly well worth the effort of getting out on the hillside with a plastic tub to do a bit of "hunter/gathering" - especially if you have children. It can absorb them productively for hours!

All we need now is a little warm weather to make sitting for hours, carefully “rolling” each berry off it’s stalk, a bit less demanding - 15 degrees Celsius with a stiff breeze just won’t do at my age!

In these northern latitudes, when nothing exciting is happening, we talk about the weather.

This time last year, we had a few nights at Roachside ourselves & spent the long evenings of a lovely warm mid-June, out walking and cycling about the southwest part of the Peak District.

What a contrast this year. It's been overcast again, it's been very windy, it's been positively cold and it's even drizzled a bit now and then - just enough to damp-off the hay which was supposed to be drying in the fields. 

Despite this lack of warm sunshine, the countryside is still very dry. There's hardly a mud patch anywhere to leave a bootprint in. Scout hasn't had to be towelled down for weeks now

This evening we took a wander up on The Cloud and looked back towards The Roaches. There was nobody else about. Perhaps that's not surprising!

On the upside, the weather forecast just announced that it's about to get a lot sunnier and warmer - roll on!

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