Friday, 12 September 2014

Irchester Country Park

It was almost by accident that we happened upon Irchester Country Park on the way back from a fruitless trip to Wellingborough. It was a nice day so why not enjoy the Autumn sunshine and fresh air on offer? Unfortunately the place was rammed with families all thinking along the same lines. Finding somewhere 'off the beaten track' wasn't going to be quite so easy.

ICP is a former ironstone quarry and has 3 circular walks of easy walking through 83 hectares of mixed woodland. The park is home to the Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway museum. We opted for the 'Ironstone Trail' which was about 2 miles in total and 4,650 footsteps. I say this with some certainty as we had already been equipped with Pedometers as part of a drive by the Council to raise awareness of obesity.... The aim being that Northampton as a County complete 20 million steps over the weekend. With Northamptonshire currently occupying 5th place in the 'fattest county in the country league' it does seem a forlorn hope. The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum was very interesting actually and home to a collection of exhibits from steam and diesel locomotives. Lots of information and display models show just how the quarry would have looked back in the heyday of steam railway. But what is Narrow Gauge ? As you enquire so kindly I will explain ... The gauge of a railway is the distance measured between the heads of the two rails. Standard gauge, which is used on the Mainline, is 4 feet 8.5 inches. Railways which measure less than this are known as narrow gauge. At the museum the main railway is laid to Metre Gauge (3 feet 3 and a bit inches ),which was the gauge used by the old Wellingborough Iron Company to the north east of Wellingborough.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Dovedale - Derbyshire Peak District

Dovedale is a renowned beauty spot, around 2-3 (4.8 km) miles of easy walking along the river Dove. The scenery is stunning with the impressive rock outcrops that line the limestone ravine. We started our walk in the southern Peak District at the Izaak Walton Hotel, named after the author of a book called The Compleat Angler. He fished the River Dove in the mid-17th century. The name The name is derived from the old Norse word dubo, meaning dark. Despite greeting over a million visitors a year Dovedale gorge supports a vast range of rare habitats and wildlife. For this reason, it became a National Nature Reserve in 2006. Early on in the walk you come across 'The Stepping Stones' first set down for Victorian tourists to cross the river. The footpath continues for 2.5 miles (4km) to Milldale at the north end of the gorge and a set of steps climb to a limestone promontory called Lover's Leap. The original steps were built by Italian prisoners of war captured in the Second World War. The recommended walk ends in the picture postcard setting of Milldale, but we decided to continue with the aid of the trusty ordinance survey map. We went 'off piste' to get to the village of Alstonefield and a couple of pints in the local. Compared to the Dovedale trail this was almost devoid of any other walkers. It was a lovely walk back to Dovedale if a bit steep at times ! There was more excitement to come as we reached 'Thestepping stones' coming back there was a man clearly in some distress. It was difficult to tell exactly what the problem was but it must have ben serious as the Air Ambulance was quickly on the scene.