Roachside Cottage

Part of the living landscape of the Roaches

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

The Roaches Trig Point - my thanks to Caitlin Hill

One reason people love to come to the high moorland is to watch the ever-changing skyscapes. Of course, this being the Peak District, often the sky is leaden with heavy rain cloud or even just a continuous grey mist when the cloud “touches down” and the cloudbase is below our elevation. But often enough, throughout the year, we do get to see the most beautiful dramas taking place in the heavens as clouds are torn and re-form on the wind.

This rather good rendition was captured by Caitlin, my old mate Graham’s daughter. It put me in mind of the last verse of Shelly’s “The Cloud”.

I am the daughter of Earth and Water,
And the nursling of the Sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I cannot die.
For after the rain when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams with their convex gleams
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise and unbuild it again.

Some people think that owning a holiday cottage is one long holiday!

They forget that the changeover day starts the night before, making up the boxes of towels and bedding. The new day then starts with loading up the car, collecting the Staffordshire Oatcakes in Biddulph, collecting the fresh cheese in Leek, a quick dog walk at Rudyard, then a litter pick along the road for half a mile outside the cottage. Then it's whipping of the bedding and into the laundry bags, cleaning everything right through, making up beds, dressing the bathroom. Hoovering and mopping, dusting and polishing. Setting the log burner ready for lighting, chopping the firewood - the list is almost endless. Then, as we lock up and put the key in the key safe for the incoming guests, it's a mad dash down to town with the laundry.

Sometimes, by the time we leave Roachside Cottage, it's obvious that we're not going to get to the laundry before they close - so we change speed, relax and go for a well earned walk along Roach Road as the sun begins to drop over the western edge of the hills.
Is there any better way of unwinding at the end of a busy day?

The sun descends in the west, silhouetting Bosley Cloud and casting long, long shadows over the upper Meerbrook Valley

 

It seems pandemics aren't just for humans!

Our great big Ash tree, the gnarled old veteran which has stood sentry by Roachside Cottage for well over a hundred years, has been diagnosed with Ash Dieback. On a photo of the cottage taken in 1937, it already towered above the rooftop. It features in countless landscape paintings and photographs - indeed, it's clearly visible on the huge David Hunt winter landscape in our hallway at home. 

Ash dieback is a terminal condition caused by a fungal infection. It's been ravaging Ash trees across Europe for years now, much like Dutch Elm disease changed our landscape forever in the last century.

Our infection is probably in the early stages at the moment, so death may be a few years away, but it's end is now certain, it's fate sealed.

Time to get the chaps I once hired to cut down trees on a construction site - three Irish chaps whose company was called "Tree Fellas" - yes, really!

Poor old Ash tree, looks like, after all those decades standing strong in wind, rain, snow and hail, you're finally going to move indoors - into the log burner. 😢

Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, indeed!!


As we frequently do, on the way to Roachside to undertake a changeover of guests this morning, we stopped for a Scoutie Scamper at Rudyard Lake.

As we walked along the old railway track, we came across a convoy of white vans parked filling the track. Some were small but most were quite large with loading ramps at the rear. The “crews” of these assembled vehicles were gathered round a chap with a clipboard - like World War 2 bomber crews undergoing a briefing about tonight’s raid. As we got closer, they began to disperse and commenced loading huge “luggage trolleys” with masses of equipment.

Obviously a fishing competition about to commence! We walked as far as The Lady of the Lake & then wandered back. As we did so, even the miniature railway had been pressed into service.

Clearly some seriously challenging fish at Rudyard.

It looked more like an invasion force than a way of escaping from the family for a few hours, sitting motionless & staring at some water.

Now we've written previously on these pages about the "Forbidden Area" of the Upper Hulme Range Complex; a rather dramatic name for what is nothing more than a wide swathe of moorland where chaps in camouflage lob mortar bombs and the suchlike.

When I was very young, there was a permissive path across this moorland and a person could traverse the hillside providing the red flags weren't flying from the many flagpoles around the perimeter. The path was closed off permanently in the 1960s after a lady rambler was killed by an errant grenade which had clearly failed to explode at it's allotted moment.

Nowadays the inner "Target Area" is securely fenced with barbed wire and signs which warn of "military debris which  may explode and kill you". All non-military personnel are forbidden to enter - so there is a faint air of mystery to the place.

Just lately, my ornithological friends tell me, there have been several sightings of a Bearded Vulture hereabouts.

I'm not aware of anyone having been posted missing , but I suppose that the presence of a bomb-shredded corpse might have attracted such an animal?

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