I can hardly believe that, having lived in Derbyshire for most of my life, and being National Trust members for over twenty years, I have never been to the Longshaw Estate until this year.
My friend Ruth, who now lives in Devon, came on a visit to Yorkshire to catch up with her friends and colleagues and hired a small cottage north of Sheffield for a couple of weeks. She brought her little dog Charlie with her. She suggested meeting at Longshaw as a half way point, having a walk and lunch at the estate tearooms.
I was almost embarrassed to admit I had never been there before! And I now realised I had been missing out. Except that in previous years we would probably have only been able to visit at a weekend, when, being so near to both Sheffield and Chesterfield, it would undoubtedly be heaving with visitors.
On a Tuesday morning in early June we had it pretty much to ourselves, although the tearoom was busy by the time we got there. We rarely go to the popular tourist spots at weekends these days – doing battle with the crowds is something neither of us enjoys any more. Now we are retired we can do our visiting during the week when the hordes are at work and their children at school. Much more pleasant.
It was a rather chilly day for mid June. We all wore fleece jackets and were glad of them. The temperature seemed to be several degrees cooler than in Chesterfield. The trees and plants also looked much further behind than at home, more like you would expect in the middle of May. Which is one of the reasons that life was tougher for people living up on the moors – spring and summer come later, winter is longer and the weather is generally cooler and wetter.
Three quarters of the way round on our walk we stopped for an ice cream and sat on a bench to enjoy the view. It takes more than a cool wind to put us Derbyshire (and Yorkshire) folk off our ice creams !!
The rhododendrons were in full bloom around the estate and provided a fabulous back drop of purple colour. That in itself was interesting because the rhododendrons at Lea were already past their best by that week.
It was lovely to meet up with Ruth again. It’s ten years since we actually met face to face but she’s one of those people with whom you can ease into a conversation just as if you last met yesterday. I hope it’s not ten years before we get together again and we plan to visit her in Devon later this year if we can arrange it. And we will certainly be visiting Longshaw again soon. It’s a beautiful place and now that we are free to do what we want mid week it’s on our list of places to go for a stroll and a picnic.