Keeping The Village School Alive

Keeping The Village School Alive

At the heart of Edale is its village school. Now the smallest school in Derbyshire, there are fewer than ten children currently attending, but the determination of the village to keep the school open and thriving is palpable. Over the centuries, pupil numbers have risen and fallen as local farming families have expanded or moved on, newcomers have brought young children for a life in the country or merely snapped up half-used holiday homes, and transport links have made access to other villages – and other schools – more viable. Today the odds are firmly stacked against the school, as they must be with small rural schools all over the UK, but with a village full of past pupils the passionate support of the community is vital to Edale School's survival [...]

Book of the month: The art of fire

Book of the month: The art of fire

At the risk of sounding horribly environmentally unfriendly, I'm loving the pervading smell of bonfires and chimney smoke that starts wafting down the valley at this time of year. Edalians are a hardy bunch and most would eschew central heating in favour of a glowing, spitting, crackling fire in the corner of the room to keep warm. Wood is collected and stored with unspoken art and village children grow up accustomed to the joys and dangers of this new, seasonal member of the household. Ample compensation for the loss of leaves and the darkening of the days outside [...]

Bella Hardy: Local Hero

Bella Hardy: Local Hero

Edale boasts more than its fair share of talent. For a small village seemingly cut off from everywhere, it's a hive of ideas, music, words and age-old skills. Bella Hardy, award-winning folk musician and passionate daughter of the valley, is one of our brightest stars and has recently come home to roost. Her new album (her ninth), Hey Sammy, is out next week – a soaring reflection on recent travels to far-flung lands and the modern Britain she has come back to [...]

Getting up with the sun

Getting up with the sun

The one good thing about the onset of winter mornings is being awake in time to welcome the sun. Sitting on the side of the valley, under the shadow of Mam Tor, we see sunrise upside down on the opposite side. The tip of Grindslow Knoll and the tops of Kinder are the first to glow orange, before a warm ooze of light works its way downwards, leaving the bottom of the valley in cold shadow until the very last. This photo was taken a few mornings ago, when a perfect, blue-skied morning made a pyjama'd walk into the fields irresistable [...]

A 21st Century Yokel

A 21st Century Yokel

I'm eagerly awaiting the new book by one of my favourite writers Tom Cox. 21st Century Yokel is out next week and will no doubt cement Tom as one of the nation's best (and funniest) collector of tales from the British landscape. The promise of a new book has led me back to Tom's website and some of his past writing. As the temperatures plummet here in the valley and I've just seen the first Christmas advert of the year on the television(!), I was drawn to a piece entitled One Winter. I love it and hope Tom won't mind me including an excerpt on this blog [...]

The Battle for Sheffield’s trees

The Battle for Sheffield’s trees

The drive from Edale into Sheffield takes you past the peaks and green hills of the Hope Valley then, depending on the route you choose, up and over the vast expanse of moorland at Ringinglow or through the stunning Longshaw Estate, dotted with gritstone outcrops and fringed with woodland. The first signs of the city are small farms and the beginnings of rural suburbs, but the approach never jars, you are beckoned in gently, the nature continues. Ancient Ecclesall Woods sits comfortably amid the suburban streets, while the houses have old, guardian trees of their own. The branches spread out over you past bustling parks and the lovely Botanical Gardens until you are suddenly in the epicentre of the city. [...]

Autumn: the season of beginning

Autumn: the season of beginning

I love Autumn. The colours, the smells, the sense of anticipation as the year marches ever more quickly towards the cliff edge. Here in the Peaks, it is also the season of knowing where you stand weather-wise. The summers are greeted with high expectations, but are often punctuated with drizzle, while the winters come with warnings of impassable roads and school closures, but are most often accompanied by... well... drizzle. Autumn on the other hand is greeted gladly with the full knowledge that days will be shorter and jumpers will be required. [...]