When “Autumn” is around the corner, the views and vistas of the hidden village. A portrait of Ashover.

“Villages” are perhaps some of the most interesting, quirky and curious places that you can explore and with each village that you find you will also find quirky stories and of course history — even beautiful landscapes that surround them. Of course though one village that I discovered was a “lockdown discovery” which came at the time when we could travel within a certain area and when the rules had slightly changed and become more relaxed; of course though the village in question is located in the county of Derbyshire, a county best known for its dales, moorland and of course “The Peak District.” Yet nestled within a hidden valley, a metaphorical stones throw away from, Matlock, Chesterfield, Mansfield, Nottingham and Derby is a village that if you have ever seen Peak Practice -you might just recognise, for it was the location of “Cardale” after filming had finished in Crich; the valley that it is nestled within is called “Amber Valley” and at the bottom of the village is the river with the same name; The River Amber, which rises close by to the village in question and flows gently downstream to Ambergate where it meets The River Derwent — of course though if you are on the A61 between Alfreton and Chesterfield or the A632 between Matlock and Chesterfield you might blink and miss it, but the Village of Ashover, is where on Thursday the 15th of September 2022, I had found myself. A quiet afternoon, the skies changing and just a slight bit of warmth from the sun, not too much thankfully and the last time I had visited Ashover, was for the rather glorious Ashover Show, an agricultural show that offers so much, for such a small hidden village; but that was in August and the date of the show the temperature was plus 30 degrees, although the temperature was a mere 15 degrees when I was there on Thursday just gone. I had noticed though that somehow it felt a lot fresher, cooler even and as I walked towards “The Black Swan” one of three village pubs, and the one that was in Peak Practice, I looked ahead to the glorious village church, to the right of the church another historic pub, The Crispin Inn; home of The Crispin Burger; and the second village pub that can be found within this curious village, yet there was a sense of magic and I had to experiment with what I was planning to do, a panoramic view; with the church and the Crispin Inn, the light at this point was magical, and needless to say that I was impressed with the first photograph that I had captured, even if it was a four photo panorama stitched together.

It was at this point that I realised that a certain sense of magic was in the air, for some fifteen days into September and could it be that I had seen the first signs of Autumn? Cooler weather, and whilst the trees were green, I could see some changes beginning to appear, a welcome change after the extreme heat of Summer that we had to endure. Then I walked on, behind me The Black Swan Pub, and I looked to my right, down Moor Road, one of the many glorious streets in Ashover, and I had a couple of seconds to compose the image that I was about to capture.

Again after reviewing the image, I thought that the simplicity in the scene is what I liked, and looking at it now, I do; for it sums up in a strange way what a magical place Ashover is; it is a place of beauty and one of hidden gardens in plain sight — something that might seem slightly odd but true, for it is a village that is worth visiting to just walk about and look at the glorious gardens that can be found. Crossing over Moor Road I walked towards the second village pub, The Crispin Inn, although I turned backwards and something screamed at me “A Peak Practice Photo.” The Black Swan looked charming somehow with the road leading towards it; and if you have ever seen Peak Practice the camera location to get shots of The Black Swan, were located just outside of The Crispin Inn.

But at this stage, food was on the mind, and to The Crispin Inn, it was; after some delightful food and catching possibly the last of the warmth from the sun; before the transition from Summer to Autumn, it was time to restart the magical journey of discovery and curiosities that I would soon find again. Walking through the church yard, the view of another pub, the third pub in the Village, The Old Poets Corner was in front of me, but the Tuck Shop, was calling, another village delight of Ashover is Anna’s Tuck Shop, and after stocking up on some homemade bakes, it was time to start walking yet again. I turned right, and in front of me the aptly named “Rose Cottage” a glorious old stone cottage dating back to the 16th/17th century and one of many floral displays that sum up the charm of Ashover.

The church behind, Rose Cottage on the right, another cottage on the left and it was truly magical, the light changing all the time, moody even.

By now, I was on Butt Road, a strangely named road, but one again of beauty, one that blends with it countryside and village life together, and one that provides a space between the main part of the village and a more quieter part of the village, a curiosity of course that can only be found in Ashover — in front of me, a delightful stone cottage and the backdrop of the hills above Matlock could be seen, and the Stone Cottage provided the perfect centre point for the photo that I subsequently took, again I got the feeling that soon this road would look different all together with the transition to Autumn that is awaiting in the wings.

I continued down Butts Road, and ahead of me another glorious cottage, one that in front of it also has another delightful garden and I managed to capture two shots, one looking directly at the cottage and another as I had walked past of the textures and colour of the garden; again for all who pass by to see and a sanctuary for wildlife.

A short while later I had arrived at Narrowleys Lane, an ordinary looking lane with fields to the left of me, houses on the right and ahead of me I could see that the trees were talking to me, saying “Autumn will be here before you know it.” For they had a certain glow about them with colour, with orange and yellow beginning to poke through into view; a sign perhaps that despite September being a month of Summer to a degree, that a transition period is beginning to occur.

Walking up Narrowleys lane and turning right it was not long before I had arrived at where I had set off from, but there was more, more to see of this glorious village but that had to be done from height, not from a drone or a helicopter, nor a plane but from an outcrop above the village.

“Ashover is just one of those villages that offers so much. Hidden it might be from the rest of the ever changing world; yet here it feels as if time has been paused, a certain sense of calm can be felt and you are away from the crowds and stresses of modern life. The village welcomes you and above the Village is where The Fabrik, can be found, for this is not the peak district, nor the Derbyshire Dales, this is the last high point within Eastern Derbyshire on the flanks of the county, yet it feels as if a slice of The Peak District has been placed here. Views from here are just something to behold and down below in the valley you can hear the stories from time gone by.”

Now I was above the village, and the gentle incline of a pathway through a field to lead to The Fabrik, was now in front of me, The Fabrik is also known as Ashover Rock, and at one time used to be owned by The Bassett Sisters, from the same family who are known for a certain well known sweet variety that is sold even to this day. The rock was to the left of me and it greeted me with mystery and with stories to tell, behind Ashover Rock, another curiosity can be found which is the former Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Station.

After being greeted by the rock, immediately I started looking at the views and vistas, seeking out compositions everywhere, the light fantastic, to the left of me Sheffield and Chesterfield basking under the sun, to the right of me a moody if not magical sky and below the village of Ashover looking sublime.

After taking those photos that can be seen above, I noticed another unusual composition, this time taking in the views of the village with the yellow, almost golden glow of the gorse bushes, that exist in harmony with the delightful heather moorland, small but perfectly formed heather moorland that provides Ashover with having a “Slice of Peak District” to it.

Then I noticed ahead of me some 23 miles away Ratcliffe on Soar Power station, a power station that sits on the Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire border; again because of the magical light conditions the views from up here were magnificent; and on a clear day it is possible to see Lincoln Cathedral.

After looking towards Ratcliffe on Soar, I turned back, the rock in front of me, then all of a sudden out of nowhere, a dog appeared, was it on its own? At first thought maybe it was, for it had walked up a rather steep pathway from the village below, then the lady appeared who was looking after the dog, and she had a camera, a camera that is an instant camera that when you take the photos, you can print them then and there, after an interesting discussion — (If you do read this, it would be interesting to see what the photos of Ashover that you captured look like), it was time to recapture the glorious rock of Ashover, and reflect on what a glorious afternoon had been spent exploring this glorious and delightful village.

But another delight wanted to say goodbye to me as well, and that was the heather, moorland heather that was still purple and magical, even if it was saying goodbye to me and I managed to capture the last of the purple heather, until it returns next year.

Walking back down the gentle incline that I had walked up, I immediately felt a sense of calm, peace and serenity, for I had walked around the glorious village of Ashover, a village that I had discovered during Lockdown and one that has a certain charm, and since lockdown over the past couple of years, it is a village that whenever I have visited it, offers so much charm, curiosities and stories from yesteryear, but it is also a village that no matter when you visit it, will always change and the views will always be different yet they will keep a charm as well, yes it might be September but “Autumn” is around the corner already and I had managed to capture some of the transition period from Summer to Autumn — in a village of charm and a village of calming escapism, for I hope to be back in the Autumn to capture the true artwork of this hidden village, but until then I question what other charms, the views and vistas of the hidden village will have in store for me?

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