We set out along the start of the Tissington Trail, which starts from the Sports Centre car park in the town and follows the course of an old industrial railway line. The first part out of Ashbourne is the Tunnel. This is a long uphill incline under the houses and shops of the town, heading north.
There is a small car park at the other end of the tunnel, but I enjoy the walk the dusky light, the echoing surroundings and the dripping water from the tunnel top. I am easily amused these days.The trail goes out across the hills following a path that takes us through farmland and cuttings. The embankment is mostly above the surrounding land and holds a commanding view throughout its length.
A flock of domestic pigeons was cruising gracefully around a farm house in the dip as we came out of the first cutting. They wheeled around, catching the sun and glistening, then as they turned, they were lost, only to catch the sun on the next turn.
I could hear the cackle of a magpie, the chip-chip of a blue tit and the harsh cry of a pheasant in the distance. The countryside was back in form after the days of endless rain.
Eventually, after passing field after field of nothing but grass we came across some sheep. They are a tough breed in this part of Derbyshire. The sheep have horns as big as the rams and they have long tails. No-one messes with a Derbyshire sheep.
A little further on and there was a paddock with hens in it. They were big birds and a lone cock was crowing as we came into sight of them.
In the wooded areas, the Male Fern was in full frond. This does not usually grow until later in the early Spring. Snowdrops were flowering at the edge of the trees, again, they are very early in this wild setting. I spotted Honey Fungus under the trees and a few bracket fungi on select trunks of some of the birch trees.
We had left enough time to have a walk around the town when we returned from the trail. Ashbourne is a very historical place with lots of old buildings and associations. It has a wealth of good quality shops and tea rooms, with an ancient market place and a diverse community.
There are too many images of this town to do it justice in a single photograph, but I like this old building near the butter market. It can be seen from the upstairs cafe in the kitchen shop, where you can still get tea in a pot with a tea strainer.
Home for tea........