‘Riding the Dragon’s Back’ – Parkhouse and Chrome Hill Friday

The Dragon's Back

Or a Magpie Wake Up, Accosted by Lambs and Village of the Dammed…

We are woken from an undisturbed night’s sleep by the sound of a magpie in the awning finishing Millie’s dinner. Millie of course doesn’t stir…

We park by the church in Earl Sterndale. Opposite the village green is the extremely run down, totally un-PC ‘Quiet Woman’ pub. The sign depicts a headless woman, supposedly the fate of the over talkative wife of a former landlord. I think that it has actually shut down but Darrell points out that the air conditioning is running . “Probably to hide the smell of the decomposing bodies”, he says as we take a footpath that runs beside it.

It certainly seems that sort of village. A recycling sign points to a couple of sheds and an abandoned caravan and hens potter about taking no notice of a rat in their house. We enter a small field with a couple of lambs. They are totally unafraid of us but are fascinated by Millie. She wags her tail and sniffs noses but is obviously beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed by the boisterous attentions of the bigger of the two.

We cross a field above a farm where a large number of sheep and lambs are collected in the yard. The main way of controlling them appears to be liberal use of a blue, plastic pipe. The racket is deafening. We head up hill to Parkhouse and Chrome Hills. Both are limestone reef knolls, formed over 320 million years ago when Derbyshire lay under a warm tropical sea near the equator. Arches, caves, spires and fissures have been carved out of the coral to cvreate what is known as the Dragon’s Back. We walk along the top with fields, hills and drystone walls spread out around us. We are above the swallow line and their swift shapes follow the contours of the hills. A bird’s bubbling call is the only thing we can hear up here. We drop down and follow the hill round through long, lush grass. Millie runs so far, then collapses, flat out in the sun before running on…

It is the most perfect of evenings with not a cloud or a breath of wind.

We have a barbecue – with greater success than our neighbours who end up with a raging inferno on their hands.

We take a walk up to Solomon’s Tower to meet and greet. A single hot air balloon drifts by.

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