Early morning September sun waking up the Derbyshire countryside at Mapperley. But it was the Shipley Woods that we came to explore. Whilst they are not far away from home it was back in February when we were last here. Then it was Snowdrop time and the woods white carpet. Circumstance around CV19 have rather restricted us.
But now it is September and feeling Brave (yes, Brave!) we headed to the woods in anticipation of some early autumn colour…
There was some autumn colour but not as much as we expected. Strange as these woods are both further north and more exposed than those close to home, which show some marked autumn colours. None the less walking through these majestic trees, with some remaining mist below, is rather magical and special…..
Autumn proper is yet to arrive but at least we found our first Conkers of the season…the Horse Chestnut, more advanced than its neighbour the Sweet Chestnut…. despite its spines still playing host to a Ladybird..
The view surrounding the high ground on what is Shipley Woods, does provide some great views over Derbyshire and neighbouring Nottinghamshire..
Looks calm and mellow, but don’t be fooled. It is not that long ago that this was a very different landscape. Mining and related chemical industries was king. Deep mining first, then to add insult to injury Open Cast mining.
The mining did leave another legacy. Here in the middle of Shipley Woods was Shipley Hall. Built with coal money of the mine owners, the Hall and its Lodges was once a rather grand affair. Gardens to match of course. Economic change found the Hall in new ownership and then (some say appropriately) mining subsidence resulted in the Hall being demolished. You can though still see the outline of the foundations…. a reminder of a past long gone.
As for the rest of the estate and mining wasteland it has been restored and a Country Park established. In parts it is still rather bland, but nature does take its time to reclaim its own naturally.
Please Remember ….
Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other
(C) David Oakes 2020
Another day and another change in the weather. After yesterdays gales, heavy rain and temperatures so low that we had the heating on in the house, to-day is just the opposite. Blue skies, sunshine, so hot that it is shorts and T-shirts and on this mornings walkies Carla was so glad to take a break in the shade….
The meadows are awash with yellow buttercups, purple clover and a mix of grasses that seem to grow by the minute.
In the woods the Rhododendrons have started to drop their flowers creating a colourful carpet of red, orange, yellow and as below purple…..
The Orange and Reds seem to be the most resilient still presenting a good strong show of colour, no doubt a last flourish before they too fall….
This Rhododendron seems a little different and something I have not spotted before. Just prior to the flower falling it suddenly extends into a bell shape dangling below the main bloom and swaying in the wind…
Sheltering amongst the Rhododendrons is a lone Mahonia. Its blue-purple berries now display and looking very much like bunches of frosted grapes…
A SAD REFLECTION…..
Please allow me a little moan. Our walkies to-day was arround a Country Park where once stood a large house and an extended farming community. The owners followed the trend of earlier days and turned to mining for coal beneath this land. Eventually the seams became less prosperous and as mines were exhausted and unused subsidence came and the house started to crumble. By then the estate was owned by the National Coal Board who, as the land was now redundant, negotiated for the local County Council to acquire them and create a Country Park. Initially all is well. The grounds are reclaimed and all signs of its busy industrial heritage removed. The house is demolished but the foundations are preserved for all to see and arround them there are pathways laid out and flora gardens on raised beds.
But to-day through lack of care and maintenance no doubt down to lack of cash the gardens are sadly neglected, weed ridden with overgrown paths…..
Shipley Country Park
This Park is not unique in its decay, many historical sites and buildings are ‘saved’ by Councils across the country.Just about all benefit from grants, legacies or dowries from the previous owners. Much work is put into the recreations and restorations…….then the money runs out. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that the estate became the responsibility of the Council and pleased it has become an ‘open space’ for all to enjoy. But it could and should be so much better….it should be maintained and cared for as originally proposed. This and other parts of our Heritage need continual care……There has to be a better way.
A The day didn’t go to plan…. so it was late before we managed to get out into what has been a glorious day of sunshine and blue skies albeit very cold. So with two impatient dogs we headed for Shipley Woods.
The low winter light still brought out the woodland colours and gave a deceptive feel of warmth to the dying day. Under the canopy, Snowdrops are pushing upwards but as of yet not opened their flower heads, once this snow clears it will be replaced by a white carpet of a different type!
A Woodland Artist has left their mark on this trunk, a rather fearsome face closing its eyes against the low sun. There are many old and decaying trunks about and one wonders if more sculptures will start to appear around the woods. It would certainly blend with the ‘Fairy Tower’ in the grounds of old Shipley Hall. Once the water tower for the farm but now an isolated designer style pad much admired by many.
Even though the days are starting to draw out the sun was soon heading down to the horizon and starting to give a rich warm glow through the trees and across the Derbyshire hills.
But don’t be fooled by the tranquil landscape above. Once upon a time this was a busy industrial landscape supporting the many coal mines that now lie quiet below these fields. Looks beautiful, flowing fields reach up to a smooth skyline of distant hills……looks so natural! Yet this is a restored landscape salvaged from the ravages of ‘open cast coal mining’. Those who look closely will soon spot the scars and artificial levels, levels that are far to designer styled for nature; still much better than a bleak scar that it might well have been.
A different sort of ‘busy’ has left its mark in the snow…everything from Squirrels, Rabbits, Birds and Mice, not to mention scores of dogs and of course people out enjoying what has been a great day. The forecast is for clear skies tonight and temperatures of minus 14c…….now that is something to look forward to!!
11th February (2nd posting)
The forecast for the rest of the week is dire so we thought we would take advantage of to-days sunshine and head off to SHIPLEY PARK. The hope as that we might get some golden autumnal colours on in the Beech woods that surround Shipley Hill. But as you can see from this shot the leaves are falling before the rich gold change occurs…..
Even so it was fresh November walk with plenty of leaves to scrunch through. The best of the autumn colour was this rich red Maple.
Shipley Country Park, to give it its full name, was once part of a very large Derbyshire Estate. Originally a farm, but once rich seams of coal were discovered it became the centre of a substantial coal industry. As with many such estates it made the farmer/landowners into a very rich family. This family was the Miller Mundy family who were Coal Barons for over 200 years. Their wealth enabled them to build a substantial hall…SHIPLEY HALL, a top of Shipley Hill. Whilst coal provided the wealth to build the hall, coal was also its undoing as subsidence from the coal seams below made the building unsafe and it was eventually demolished after a period of neglect in 1948. The foundations are still visible in the gardens and you can still get a good impression of the enormous size of the Hall.
BUT THE BEST COLOUR…..was waiting for us at home where even more Cyclamen are presenting a great challenge to the winter days ahead………..