Thursday, December 11, 2008

By the light ... of the silvery moon

Walked: 10 December 2008
Distance: 7.5m

I've been wanting to go out walking at night for some time. It's happened by accident a couple of times, and I've enjoyed it. Tonight was reasonably clear and the moon was very nearly full.

I discovered that my old camera isn't up to taking good night-time photos. To the eye, there was plenty of light to see by, but all of my photos have just come out as black squares.

This is the only one that is usable. The moon doesn't look half as beautiful here as it did at the time.

It was very rewarding. The moon looked beautiful, the towns and cities were clusters of orange lights, and the moonlight was bright enough to walk by. The light was amazing. My disastrous photography proved that it wasn't really as bright as it appeared to the eye. A strange monochrome though, that colour being mithril.

I'm not sure whether it was a bad idea to walk paths that I didn't know very well, or a great idea. Orienteering was a little more of a challenge than in daylight. This being a linear walk, I obviously walked the same route back, but in reverse. I didn't need the map on the return part of the walk, because I remembered the paths pretty well. I think this was because when I did have the map out, I had to try and memorise as much as I could, because after reading a map by bright torchlight, it was very difficult to see in the moonlight once more.

I picked up where I left off last time out - starting in Stanton and walking east to Castle Donington, trying to keep to the higher ground for the views over the Trent valley.

The route above was generated using Meander.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Map image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Long View

Distance: 11 miles (linear)
Walked: 6 Dec 08
Terrain: The steep ascents are worthwhile!

The local moggies like to laze on top of my garden shed and take in the great view over fields and The National Forest. I thought about this as I drove to my local farm shop this morning, which takes me over one of my favourite South Derbyshire viewpoints (SK365250). Why do animals and humans alike find it so rewarding to find a high spot and take in a long view?

It might have to do with defence - from this position you can see a predator or enemy coming hours before they reach you and fight them off much more easily.

This is all a bit irrelevant for us these days, but nevertheless it feels great to be up high and see a long way. I felt inspired to devise a new walk which would follow the high spots along the Trent valley.

A circular walk would be great - to the south of the valley, then crossing over and back on the north of the river. This would be a very long walk because points where you can cross the Trent are few and far between.

Today's walk was a bit experimental and I'll develop this route some more but it worked out very well. I started in Repton and headed East, making it to Stanton before having to turn around to get back before dark.

From Repton, there are a couple of paths taking you East - on the map there's the main green line, and a pink alternative. I tried both today (one out and one back) and preferred the latter - the green one is low in the valley and you can't see very much more than Willington Power station.

I've said before that the walk along the river between Foremark and Ingleby (passing Anchor Church caves) is one of my favourite spots. Today the path was flooded, as it often is after wet weather. Once before I took off my boots and waded through. Today I thought I could see a way up over the cave, which gave me a great spot for a picnic lunch. This was off the right of way and was probably trespassing, which I hope the landowner will forgive, so I can't recommend it. Instead, I recommend the alternative path (blue on my map below) through Foremark

This chap seemed to enjoy sitting up high enjoying the view too.

In the distance is Ratcliffe power station making its signature across today's amazing blue sky. I really don't like the short days, and we're very nearly at the shortest day, but it was a perfect day for walking. The air was fresh and clear as a bell and the sun was bright. Despite some puddles being frozen over all day, the air didn't feel very cold.

The white building flying the St George cross is the John Thompson at Ingleby, famous for brewing its own marvelous beer.

This time of the year, there is a little bit of colour if you look for it. Today I saw beautiful yellow gorse flowers and red rose-hips. Here they're both showing in front of a tree in wonderful copper foliage.

I used Meander for Mac to generate the route below. Click the map for a bigger version complete with all of today's photos.