We went to Hartington for our usual New Year visit a little later this year. We timed our arrival to coincide with my borther's birthday and had booked to eat at the excellent Charles Cotton Hotel in the village. One of the tings we like about our visit here is that the cars stay in the car park for the duration and our biggest decision is whether we do the walks clockwise or anti-clockwise. Although it remained dry for most of the time the weather was generally overcast and gloomy apart from our final walk when we did see some sun. Our peregrinations centred on the River Dove and the dry valleys on either side. We noticed that the buds on the elders were swelling and would soon be breaking into leaf and hazel catkins were well out. We saw buzzards and lapwings and dippers busy on the river along with several herons. On our stretch of the river there seemed to be about 5 dipper territories and we found one singing its heart out with a beautiful, melodious thrush-like song.. Spring is on the way.