There's not much better than setting off after a cooked breakfast at the Izaak Walton Hotel and finding yourself, within two minutes, strolling by the River Dove. At this time we were the first visitors of the day; no cars were to be seen in the usually busy carpark; and there was nobody ahead to spoil the beautiful views. The sound of the shallow river babbling over the rocks was all we could hear.
Within a few minutes, we spotted our first dipper of the day — it did not seem bothered by us at all! We stood watching it for an age as it bobbed up and down, thrusting its head into the clear water.
Soon our solitude was broken as others came to enjoy this idyllic scenery, and we moved on.
Although the sky remained grey and eventually heavy drizzle drenched us, our enjoyment could not be spoiled. We followed the peaceful gurgling of the river, clambered up and down steep rocky steps, marvelled at rock formations and explored caves - finally ending up in Milldale where we enjoyed some refreshments with a rather tame flush of mallards who almost sat on us in their eagerness to get to the crumbs of Dave's pasty!
After about an 8 mile walk through Hope (a brief stop off at the local pub), Stanshope and back to the River Dove, we returned to the Izaak Walton Hotel. I cannot believe that we have not visited before now - it won't be long before we return!
On our journey to the Peak District, we stopped off in the hope of catching a glimpse of the bee eaters nesting at East Leake Quarry. We'd never seen these colourful birds before so were quite excited to say the least. After parking in the designated area we followed the path until we came to an equally excited group of onlookers. Apparently they had been showing well ten minutes previously but not anymore.
Eagerly, we kept watching until the unmistakeable form and colouration of several bee eaters descended into the trees opposite us. We then spent a pleasant hour or so watching up to four of them agilely flying around catching bees. Superb!