Climbing up out of the Dove gorge, we emerged into a network of fields. I love to see the quirky shapes of the small enclosures, surrounded by the dry stone walls which sometimes follow the contours of the land and sometimes seem to fight against them.
Enclosure of the land mainly occured around the beginning of the nineteenth century and led to much more intensive farming of the area, mainly by sheep. Over the last century, this has declined with the introduction of cattle. Part of the reason for this was the coming of the railways, which opened up milk markets to the cities. The Tissington Line, for example, was used for the daily transportation of Derbyshire milk to Finsbury Park in London!
Dairy farming also led to the establishment of cheese factories. I love stilton cheese, with it's tasty blue veins (stinky cheese as my friend calls it). Until recently, there was a stilton cheese factory and shop at Hartington, close to the Dove valley. Sadly, it has now closed and even the local Dovedale Blue is made in Staffordshire, rather than Derbyshire! In fact, we were trying to think of any cheese now manufactured in our county and could actually identify none! Sadness!!
Ironically, going back to sheep (which is somewhere near where I started), the National Trust have reintroduced sheep into the Dove valley in order to control the rapidly growing shrubbery which was threatening to overwhelm the wildflower species. There are plenty of sheep in my photo too :)