Derbyshire in early winter snow!

It’s been a while since I’ve had a proper winter. Last year I’d got so fed up of our mild, grey and wet winters that I skipped off to Antarctica, only to miss the best winter we’d had in decades. This year though is looking good! Not even the end of November before we had proper settling snow here in Derbyshire, and today, just the 1st day of December, and across the county we’ve had anywhere between several inches to two feet of snow overnight!

[singlepic id=2328 w=320 h=240 float=left]I should really have been writing about underwater photography this morning. But when you wake up to several inches of snow and blue skies, it’s such an unusual event in the UK, that you just have to grab the camera and get out there! Although it took a while to dig the car out… And seeing how much snow there was, I was rather nervous of descending the hill we live on – it’s not an adopted road, so no chance of being gritted unless me or one of my neighbours is feeling kind! But it was actually far easier than I was expecting – the snow was a lot grippier than the more usual winter problem of ice, but no snow.

Perhaps I was being rather optimistic in initially hoping I could get to one of the “Edges” in the Peak District – but the plan soon changed, especially when I heard that the main road from Chesterfield into the Peak was shut, and even 4x4s were having trouble around the Chesterfield area. (Which I’d assumed would be rather easier road-wise in these conditions than taking the backroads I’d normally use!) So that plan having been squashed, I went to see what was working more locally.

[singlepic id=2329 w=320 h=240 float=right]Sticking to the main A6 from Ambergate proved worthwhile, although many good views were torturing me as I drove by with nowhere safe to stop. Eventually I reached Whatstandwell station – which was almost full of cars that clearly hadn’t made it home last night – but proved a useful place to get off the road for a while. The station itself was very pretty too – with all the wrought iron work on the bridge, and even the station signpost looking very pretty with all the snow. And I was shocked to see people waiting for the train – I’d never have expected it to be running in such conditions, but clearly one had been through earlier in the day, so kudos to the railco’s and train drivers for keeping it running!

I went for a short walk around the station, down to the A6 bridge over the River Derwent, and back along the Cromford Canal. Breaking trail along the footpath was hard work, but fun – and a reminder that I really need to regain some fitness before heading out to Spain in January! Reaching the bridge, a winter wonderland scene of the River Derwent surrounded by heavily snow-laden trees greeted me. I was a bit nervous setting up the tripod on the bridge – but the footpath (snowdrift!) was just about wide enough… And I was rather warmer than a couple of ducks who scuttled quickly across the river, and under the snow-laden trees to the far bank, while I was setting up a portrait-format shot of the river, trees and weir. They looked very cold and hungry – they obviously haven’t learned how to hibernate! I guess in recent years they would never have faced such conditions as these.

[singlepic id=2335 w=320 h=240 float=left]Walking up the hill past the Derwent Arms I was very tempted by the aroma of warm inviting pub wafting out of it’s doorway. But there were pictures to be taken – beer can come later! The dredger sat in the canal looked rather forlorn and abandoned with the water all frozen around it, and the snowclouds were gathering in the skies again once I reached the canal, so other than it taking a while to semi-break a line of trail that had been walked fairly recently, the pictures weren’t as good as I’d hoped. And the exit out back to the railway station was rather more awkward than I’d expected – the steps had all snowed together into one slippery ramp! The folks waiting for the train had long gone, but having seen a train passing while on the towpath, I knew it wouldn’t be long before it returned from Matlock. So it seemed worthwhile waiting a short while to get a few pictures of it as it returned.

Heading back I thought I’d try and get a bit more off the beaten track – surely the minor roads couldn’t be that bad? No, they were worse than that! The entrance to the road up past Shining Cliff woods looked reasonable at the start, but it wasn’t long before I decided discretion the better part of valour and reversed back down to level ground. Major roads weren’t too badly impassable  – with care, but minor roads with hills, no chance. (Don’t suppose anyone knows where I can get some snow chains???! No, scrap that – does anyone have any advice on off-piste snowboarding!)

More images of Derbyshire in the current heavy winter snow can be seen in my Derbyshire gallery.