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Sunday evening and the early hours of Monday morning were to produce a magnificent natural spectacle. A super moon was to coincide with a total lunar eclipse producing a so-called blood moon. A super moon is a full moon when the moon is at its closest to the Earth or perigee. It appears 12 - 14% larger than normal and when it rises it is a deep orange colour changing to the normal bright yellow/white as it rises. When a total lunar eclipse coincides with a super moon, the moon turns a deep orange/red colour. These events happen infrequently; the last being in 1982 and the next will not occur until 2033. It all measured up to expectations and was well worth getting up for an hour and a half at 3.45 am.
From Arbor Low I moved on to Monsal Head, perched high above the River Wye and the Monsal Trail with its impressive viaduct as I wanted to take some photographs from this lofty position.
My final port of call was another historic venue, the atmospheric Magpie Mine set high in the Limestone hills. Closed in 1958 this disused lead mine still has all the old buildings standing and it takes only a little imagination to visualise what it must have been like in its heyday in the mid 1800s.
Soon it was time to head on to Over Haddon to meet the others for a walk down Lathkill Dale. The last time I had been here had been in April a few years ago to photograph dippers. And what a difference time of year makes. In April the new spring growth was young and verdant and the river ran full and sparkling. At the end of summer and into autumn the dying vegetation, full of seasonal colour, was tall and rank and most of the river water had had vanished underground into sink holes waiting for the winter rains to rejuvenate it. By and large bird life was quiet, but I delighted in the mewing calls of a family of buzzards, soaring high above the dale with a youngster calling stridently to its parents for food.
Sadly Thursday was our final day and we chose to spend it cycling along the Tissington Trail on another day of beautiful weather, after the early morning fog had cleared. Opened in 1971 and named from the chocolate box village of Tissington, which it skirts, the trail once formed part of the LNWR line connecting Ashbourne and Buxton. We rode from the old station in Ashbourne, now the site of the leisure centre, to Parsley Hay in the north. The views were expansive and, again, the Autumn colour spectacular, especially the fiery stems of rosebay willowherb. On the return leg we enjoyed the spectacle of a hot air balloon drifting serenely on the light breeze. A fantastic day, marred only by the loss of the car keys which bounced out of the (sadly unzipped) pocket of my cycle bag and necessitating a late evening drive back to Grimsby to pick up the spares. Thanks to John for driving. All in all, though, a fabulous week.