I should have posted this back in August – it is a page from my Celebrating the Year Art book from 2010 illustrating one of my favourite poems together with one of my favourite hedgerow flowers the majestic Cow Parsley. I love the creamy white heads swaying in the breeze and to me they are just as beautiful when they begin to dry. At the moment the verges are full of the distinctive tall brown stems so characteristic of Autumn settling in and I couldn’t let it pass without a mention.
The quick sketches I did some years ago whilst on a walk through one of our favourite spots in Derbyshire called Lathkill Dale and if you like wild flowers is a definite must to go and see.
From Over Haddon village near Youlgreave and Bakewell take the narrow lane down the very steep slope from the village until you reach the house at the bottom (which incidentally is the setting for a Mills and Boon novel!) At the bottom you can turn either way – left will take you to a little hut that sells tea and coffee to passers by and right will take you on the path which meanders west alongside the river towards Monyash and eventually through the patch of towering Cow Parsley. It is a delight to see such an expanse of this spectacular wildflower majestically swaying in the breeze. It is so tall you can hardly see above it at full height.
The river Lathkill rises just below Monyash and flows down to meet the Wye just below Haddon Hall. The valley it forms is one of the finest of the limestone dales and the upper part is a National Nature Reserve in the care of English Nature. It is a famous trout-fishing river, and Izaak Walton declared it to be the ‘purest and most transparent stream’ he had seen.
We often make it a day out and go and see Haddon Hall near Bakewell (not National Trust though) where you can get an excellent home made lunch in the restaurant and then roam around the hall and gardens. This is the cute new Kiosk just through the gates.
It has one of the finest Long Galleries in the country and was the setting for the latest Jayne Eyre and some scenes in Pride and Prejudice. There is also an interesting little Chapel within the house. Be warned though, if you do visit, don’t take any alcohol with your lunch or you might regret it when you realise that the whole place is quite crooked and not one level surface anywhere to walk on.
For more information if you live close enough and fancy a trip out have a look at their website www.haddonhall.co.uk