Somewhere in the Goyt Valley 4th September 2006.

It’s as if someone has pulled a switch. September has arrived and now there is an autumnal feel to the air. The light has that softer washed out feel to it, and the air has a hint of a chill to it. It was overcast this evening but the valley soon worked its magic. Parking the car I was still feeling fraught and frustrated after a difficult day at work. Apart from a brief moment of panic when I read the notice about car theft just before the path drops down into the valley, and wondered whether I had locked it, I began to relax, to feel the stress and tension lift.

There was no one else around apart from me. After about ten minutes, I was down in the bottom of the valley. The sounds were different. The curlews had gone, but the recent rain and refreshed the streams so that the sound of water was everywhere. A Heron flopped languidly into the air before flopping down again after a few yards. I stopped to watch it. There were in fact three of them. One in the steam and the other two hunched up on the side of the bank. I watched them for a few minutes before setting off again. Up on the hillside there was a kestrel hanging there suspended as if on a thread, before dropping silently onto some unfortunate small animal. As I moved up the valley I noticed that there was a second kestrel hunting a hundred yards or so from the other one.

Despite the weekend rain the path was remarkably dry, but everywhere I could hear the gentle sound of running water.

As I climbed up the side of the valley to join the old railway track, the two kestrels were chasing each other, a dispute over territory I guess. They flew close to each other sometimes diving down at others twisting and turning, and keeping up a high pitched cry. This part of the Goyt is littered with old boundaries. Dry stone walls tumbling down unkempt, marking long forgotten fields, their owners long gone and no one else to claim and care for them.

Walking back along the disused railway track, one of the kestrels flew low and languidly just above the wall that ran parallel to the track, before flying up and away to hover in search of prey.

I don’t always use the railway track. It is used by dog walkers and though many of them make sure that they clean up after them, a lot don’t. You need to be careful not to stray into the long grass at either side.

Back to the car park. The car was there, and on the pond there were nine ducks, two adults and seven youngsters, almost fully grown but still hanging onto mum.

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