Dovedale and the River Dove

A few days ago we drove to Dovedale to introduce our grand children to the delights of the stepping stones there. It was half term week so many other people had the same idea. Apparently Dovedale attracts around 1 million visitors each year.

The Dove was first made famous for its fishing by writers Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton in the 17th century. Only the fairly wealthy could visit Dovedale during the 18th and 19th centuries, but from 1899 the Ashbourne to Buxton railway line ran to Thorpe Cloud station above the village of Thorpe, making Dovedale more widely accessible to walkers and hikers of all social classes. Now days most people arrive by car.

“I can assure you there are things in Derbyshire as noble as Greece or Switzerland”. Lord Byron

The source of the river Dove is Axe Edge Moor, between Leek and Buxton from where it flows south for 45 miles to its confluence with the Trent here at Newton Solney. For much of the way the river forms the county boundary between Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

The final stretch of the Dove is through the softer and flatter landscape of south Derbyshire. An information post and bench have recently been installed on the village side of the Trent opposite the confluence of the Trent and Dove and close to where a ford provided a crossing point many years ago.

I turn to ducks

During a stroll around Belper River Gardens we found this small sculpture of three ducks near the cafe and children’s play area. It is one of twenty locations around Belper to display poems and artwork which form the Beth’s Poetry Trail – further details here…

The bronze cast sculpture is by a local artist and sculptor Fiona Fineran. The original clay version was modelled from on-the-spot drawings of the River Gardens ducks. (The following photographs include River Garden ducks, along with ducks from other locations).

The River Gardens are a real gem, much loved by locals and those who know about them, but the insignificant entrance and small car park can be easily missed by drivers travelling on the busy A6 road between Belper and Matlock.

“Sleeping or curled” in the February sunshine.

The plaque on the limestone plinth displays the opening lines of ‘Ducks’ by F W Harvey.

From troubles of the world

I turn to ducks,

Beautiful comical things

Sleeping or curled

Their heads beneath white wings…

Harvey wrote the poem in 1916 whilst a prisoner of war in the Holzminden camp in Germany. His inspiration for the poem was a picture of ducks in a pool of water at the camp, drawn by a fellow inmate.

Over 100 years later and the world is yet again a troubled place, so let’s be grateful that we can still turn to ducks; and nature, and parks and the countryside of this beautiful, and yes sometimes comical world in which we live.

The full poem and information about F W Harvey can be found here

Tails uppermost, or waddling
Sailor-like on the shores
Of ponds, or paddling
– Left! Right!
They wander at their will,
But if you go too near
They look at you through black
Small topaz-tinted eyes
And wish you ill.
And ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
They dabble, and when they swim
And make their rippling rings,
0 ducks are beautiful things!
But ducks are comical things:-
As comical as you.
When God had finished the stars and whirl of coloured suns
He turned His mind from big things to fashion little ones;
And as for the duck, 1 think God must have smiled a bit
Seeing those bright eyes blink on the day He fashioned it.
And he’s probably laughing still at the sound that came
out of its bill!

Galanthus Galore

Venturing off the beaten track this afternoon, by taking a walk through the woods at Dimminsdale Nature Reserve, we were rewarded with this wonderful display of snowdrops, or galanthus nivalis.

A little known fact from the Royal College of Physicians…

‘Not only are the white flowers of the snowdrop a sight to behold, its bulb contains the alkaloid galantamine – approved for use in the management of Alzheimer’s disease in over 70 countries worldwide, including the UK. Extract of snowdrop was noted by the ancient Greeks for its powerful mind-altering effect’.

Fractal Firebird

Another ‘Frax’ fractal with additional editing. I later found this description of a firebird which seems to be very appropriate for the image.

Slavic folklore… The Firebird is described as a large bird with majestic plumage that glows brightly emitting red, orange, and yellow light, like a bonfire that is just past the turbulent flame. The feathers do not cease glowing if removed, and one feather can light a large room if not concealed. In later iconography, the form of the Firebird is usually that of a smallish fire-colored falcon, complete with a crest on its head and tail feathers with glowing “eyes”. It is beautiful but dangerous, showing no sign of friendliness.