The fair weather of the day before had changed to drizzle once more, so on it was with the waterproofs again. I am the lady in red, with Angela's great hat which was just as good in keeping off the rain as it was in keeping off the sun.It was Canadian, and I want one!
We started in the highest situated village of Alstonefield, an extremely old village as it turned out, and I adore that name. They called it that, because there literally were no trees up there (there are now though). It has a pretty church, with a proper Sheela na gig over the door; you can just about spot it on the right hand side of the tower in my photo. (Too high up for my iPhone, but I'll try to find another picture for you)
Here is what my mate Wikipedia has to say on the subject:
Sheela na gigs are figurative carvings of naked women displaying an exaggerated vulva. They are architectural grotesques found on churches, castles, and other buildings, particularly in Ireland and Great Britain, sometimes together with male figures. One of the best examples may be found in the Round Tower at Rattoo, in County Kerry, Ireland. There is a replica of the round tower sheela na gig in the County Museum in Tralee town. Another well-known example may be seen at Kilpeck in Herefordshire, England.
Ireland has the greatest number of surviving sheela na gig carvings; McMahon and Roberts cite 101 examples in Ireland and 45 examples in Britain.
Such carvings are said to ward off death and evil. Other grotesques, such as gargoyles and hunky punks, were frequently part of church decorations all over Europe. It is commonly said that their purpose was to keep evil spirits away (see apotropaic magic). They often are positioned over doors or windows, presumably to protect these openings.
Such a lovely church. I'm a Pagan-Zennish-Something'sOutThere person (so that Sheela na gig appealed to me), but I was charmed by the interior and definitely by the attitude of the people who had put tea making things out for ramblers like us. So hospitable!
Universal values, I feel!
After some time in the graveyard (like 'em!just look at that view, it's to die for, lol) we descended to the river and the hamlet of Milldale (visited that before, but the toilets were accessible then) and now rambled upstream along the River Dove, through Mill Dale, Wolfscote Dale and Beresford Dale.
We actually crossed the Dove into Staffordshire and back again, and the hills were different. Tessa explained that it wasn't so much limestone as it was gritstone here.
Whatever the type of stone, I thought they were damn impressive.
And although we felt as if we were walking on flat ground, we were going upriver all the time, so it was what we Dutch folk call "vals plat" or "fake flat". But it didn't feel as if we were ascending, and that made it a wonderfully relaxed walk amongst the sheep, right up to the final ascent into Hartington - phew, that was a proper hill again!
Isn't this the typical English cottage? Something for my retirement (if they'll still have me after Brexit?).
I limped into the nice tea shop and reflected on a week very well spent in Derbyshire.
We rambled 6 miles (9.5 km) with a ascent of 1,000 feet (300 m), in drizzle and damp dryness.
Alstonefield is the winner of 'Best Village' I believe; for me it is winner of 'Most Hospitable Church'.
If the Sheela na gig has tickled your fancy, do take a look on Google pictures - there are stunning examples to be found, new fangled ones as well.
Hartington boasts two tea shops; I visited the one behind the farm products shop.
And this concludes my Derbyshire Hikes series. I hope you have enjoyed rambling with me, and will join me on new adventures in the future.