Saturday, 26 December 2015

Across the High Peaks on Christmas Day

The annual drive from Cheadle to Duffield took place in unseasonable warmth. I've done this journey many times on Christmas Day - sometimes in snow, sometimes in frost, with sun shining. More often than not in the rain. But never in the warmth of 13C. With the depressing sprawl of Stockport behind us, the car climbs into the High Peaks for a picturesque ride along the visually most interesting part of the A6.

A feeling of early spring was in the air. This year, something else was different - along with Eddie and Moni came Dziadzio Bohdan, who spent Christmas with us this year. Driving back to my brother's across the Peaks, Moni took the photos. Camera Nikon D3300, lens Nikkor 55-300mm.

The Midlands had escaped the serious flooding that has hit Lancashire, Cumbria and now Yorkshire this December, but up in the Peaks, the fields appeared sodden, the ground saturated.

Between Buxton and Matlock, the River Wye is rising; a day of heavy rain could push the water level up a few more inches and out across the A6, the main road between Derby and Manchester.

Out in the fields, sheep are grazing, low cloud envelopes the hillsides, swallowing the peaks. The windscreen wipers switch from 'intermittent' to 'high' to 'low' to 'off' and back all the time.

The road is quiet; we set off at 13:30 to arrive at 15:30. Less than 55 miles (90km), but much of the road has a 50 mph speed limit falling to 40 mph in built-up areas and 30 mph as we drive through the centres of towns and villages along the way.

As we pass Matlock and Matlock Bath, the rain temporarily lets up; we listen to the Queen's Speech on the radio. The world is indoors, eating turkey and stuffing. We're on our way.

Derbyshire - county of limitless country walks. But though it's warm, it's muddy. And the heavens can open at any time.

Across the UK, weather records are tumbling - warmest ever December, wettest ever December.

This time last year:
Derbyshire's rolling landscapes

This time two years ago:
Our Progress Around the Sceptr'd Isle

This time three years ago:
Out and about in Duffield
Christmas Break

This time four years ago:
Boxing Day walk in Derbyshire

This time five years ago
This time seven years ago:
This time eight years ago:

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