Country diary: two mute swans are serene in the falling darkness

Country diary: two mute swans are serene in the falling darkness

Water-cum-Jolly, Derbyshire: In this shadowy and claustrophobic setting, their reflections are like quavering bars of light

It’s intriguing that this section of the Wye valley has its own strange name, because it is suitably individual in character. The limestone walls are sheer-sided and canyon-like, particularly on the southern bank. The water current, however, is controlled by two weirs, and the intervening flow is slowed and widened so that the river fills the basin like a linear pool.

Once it escapes again, the Wye narrows and enters a prolonged east-to-west sweep where the dale tops open out to the heavens and the more popular Monsal Trail is sunlit and airy. Upstream, on the other hand, the equally well known Millers Dale might be more enclosed, but its own upper slopes are wooded and the canopy is mirrored in the river surface. Wherever you have a prospect of Millers Dale top to bottom, it presents as a single deep vase of green and the impact is as life-affirming as in Monsal.

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