October can often seem an indeterminate, rather uninspiring month, but here in Derbyshire it is packed with interest: a time to defer melancholy thoughts of battening down the hatches for winter for a little longer.
The friendly Derby Folk Festival, from 4th-7th, is a good place to start, a chance to get back to our popular roots and enjoy a diverse range of music, while this month any country walk or drive lets us revel in glorious autumn colours. As I drove through Matlock, Matlock Bath and Cromford the other day, leaves were already turning red and yellow down the valley. The area has a unique atmosphere. Even when I’m rushing along the A6 and can’t stop – I always want to – it never fails to tell me I should take the day off and explore. If you do have the chance to pause, this month’s walk is a lovely hike from Ambergate, a little further along the valley, ambling gently back beside the Cromford Canal.
Later in the month the Derwent Valley from Cromford to Derby is the focus for the immensely successful Discovery Days festival (p.24) with its entertaining programme of events, walks and talks. And, of course, in October Matlock Bath’s most colourful attraction has come to life – the Illuminations. Wandering through the riverside gardens as darkness falls, then enjoying the reflections of light on water as the remarkable boats parade down the Derwent is surely just as magical and enchanting as those first illuminations must have seemed in 1897 – and on Saturdays fireworks light up the night.
The dark sky is something else that comes into its own in October, one of the best months for astronomy (p.30). Derbyshire can lay claim to the first Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, so it should be no surprise we have some notable local astronomy groups as well as three specially-designated dark-sky areas. Though satellites orbiting Earth are now common, the night sky has lost none of its fascination (and doesn’t it seem amazing that on 11th October it will be 50 years since Apollo 7, the first mission to carry a crew into space, was launched?).
Back down to earth, October is also the month for mushroom hunting, so a good time to feature award-winning local company
Get Funghi, whose founders, Deb Hampson and Bengt Saxmark, have used their New Mills and Swedish roots to create a fascinating business perfectly suiting their way of life. Another splendid local enterprise that comes into its own at this time of year (the Wyn Monath for the Saxons) is at Carr Head Farm near Hathersage (p.160), where a retirement project to start a vineyard has become a source of great local pride. A Derbyshire October is also a good time to enjoy ploughing matches, classical music, caves, castles and, at the end of the month, lots of spooky goings-on.
Matlock Illuminations 2018
JOY HALES,Editor, Derbyshire Life01332 227861, email@example.com