Reddish Vale Country Park is a nearby beauty spot in the Tame Valley. Like all such local Lancashire landscapes, it is a combination of natural features and the manmade ones attracted by them, and it is these agrucultural, mining and industrial
influences which have shaped its character now, from what is left of those. Mine and mill are long gone, although farming and meadows remain. The river Tame brought a calico printing works before 1800, its millponds now integral to the water features,
as is the boundary of the magnificent railway viaduct for the Hope Valley Line built in 1875. This has sixteen arches but it is best not to count them, as legend has it a local witch cursed it during construction and along with it, all those who attempted
to tot up the number of its arches. She clearly had no time for idlers and sight seers. There are plenty of those around, and those of us walking about provide a spectator sport for the Canada Geese casually lined up on the old timbers in the ponds.
Creatures are tamely hopeful, a squirrel and ducks pottering about nearby waiting for visitors to succumb to their charms and feed them. A meadow of slipper orchids grows on an old landfill site for fly ash from coal boilers. There were some beautiful
butterflies yesterday, one on a buddleia and another sunning itself, when we returned from a clamber up the hill from the valley, on the car windscreen. At the hilltop, looking across the valley to the Peak District, there was not just landscape but
cloudscape to drink in.