Saturday, 28 May 2011

Buzzards, boulders and the return of the May Queen #1

The last week of April and the first week of May have here in Derbyshire as in other parts of the UK, been notable for the somewhat unseasonal warmth and sunshine. This has given many of us a valued opportunity to explore our local countryside once again.

This has also proved to be a most eventful time for us in the Hearth of the Turning Wheel. During the latter week of April, we twice explored the wonderful Derbyshire Peak District, on our second trip meeting up with friends from another Clan. Then on Mayday itself, we marked the return to our Hearth of a dear one, a much valued and missed member who has rested from active participation for some years.

So it was in preparation for our Maytide ritual and rite of re-admission, that the Hearth Pixie and myself made the first journey to Stanton Moor, just inside the Peak. Our aim being to both check the directions to and the suitability of our chosen site for the planned ritual. Parking near to Birchover it was only a short walk to our destination, a small circle of six stones hidden in woodland. Although this was not my first visit, my taxi driver, sorry I mean my companion Pixie, had not visited this circle before. She found herself truly enchanted by its charm and understandably so.

Doll Tor and obviously, it is Doll if you know the Peak, is a charming circle hidden from the road in woodland down a slight incline. There are truly beautiful views of Youlgreave and Bradford from the woodland, a prospect of great delight on a bright summer-warm day. My companion derived no small amount of joy from this visit, sitting in the circle for quite some time after I had done what I had felt necessary to do on entering the site.

The site has a chequered history, damaged, desecrated and neglected until finally rebuilt by archaeologists and rediscovered by the local Pagan community. Today Doll Tor is a dearly loved site, sometimes difficult to find it remains far more private than the nearby Nine Ladies.

After our all too brief visit that was probably not as brief as it actually felt and lunch at the well-known Cauldwell’s Mill vegetarian restaurant, we spent a short time watching the blacksmith at work. We found ourselves truly fascinated by his craft and his creation, his own personal blackthorn walking stick, topped with an iron Derby Ram. Moving on and perhaps rather ambitiously having just eaten, we set out to climb the fairy hill that is Peak Tor. This is my favourite hill in the Peak, a conical and steep outcrop, topped with beech and oak, it dominates the landscape near Rowsley. It is a steep climb depending on from which side you choose to approach and as we reached the summit, we were greeted by sunlight dappled trees and bluebells in full bloom.

The views from the Tor are worth the climb, looking down on the Wye and across to the trees hiding Haddon, with Chatsworth only a short distance away on the other side of the hills, it is a beautiful place. We spent some time taking in the vista, fields, rivers, trees and hills. There is an atmosphere here at the top where the hill flattens out. From below, looking up Peak Tor calls to you, inviting you to climb and embrace the very hill itself. It is otherworldly.

So ended our first trip, a fact-finding orientation taking in two of my favourite places in the Peak or three if you count the restaurant. Both Doll Tor and Peak Tor have that effect of making you not want to leave them, they enchant and bewitch visitors, casting their own spell upon those they welcome.