Wildlife Photography: Capturing Badgers

Capturing Badgers by Wildlife Photographer Tesni Ward




European Badgers have been heavily persecuted by man for hundreds of years, dating back to 1566 when a change in law made Badgers a real target. This Act of Parliament meant that it was compulsory for the general population to kill as many creatures on the ‘vermin’ list as possible, with a significant financial incentive for returned carcasses. It wasn’t just ‘official’ activities that threatened Badger populations, badger baiting also played a large part from the 1800s, which still continues to this day despite being outlawed in 1835.


With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that my initial quest to find and photograph badgers was met with numerous failures. They have every reason to avoid humans, but this didn’t deter me, I was on a mission and I’m too stubborn to give up that easily!


It took months, countless hours of research and reading on all aspects of badger ecology, behaviour and speaking with experts and hunt saboteurs until I was successful in locating my first sett; I’ve never been so excited at finding fresh droppings! Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be, as it became apparent that these Badgers didn’t come aboveground until long after sunset, which was understandable when I learned it was heavily targeted by baiters! Rather than risk negatively impacting them in any way, I decided to continue the search, but it took several more weeks and a spark of luck to find the sett I now work with.





With over 20 entrances across a steep clay hill, it was apparent that this sett would present it’s own unique challenges, well, where do I start? The first evening I spent there I chose an entrance to watch, nestled back into the bushes and waited silently. Following all the ‘typical’ rules of badger watching, I kept silent and still for about half an hour, balancing my 500mm lens and camera on my knee in the hope that a badger may pop out, before I heard a distinctive snap behind me.

Slowly, I turned to survey the area, finding nothing, but as I turned back, I was confronted by a large male badger, not 3m from me. I was frozen in complete and utter shock; I couldn’t believe it was happening!

All this time searching for these beautiful animals and there’s one right in front of me. I think he was as surprised as me, standing and sniffing the air for about 30 seconds. It felt like hours. Desperately trying and failing to focus the camera, knowing full well I couldn’t frame the shot and that the badger was likely far too close, he waddled into the bushes beside me. My heart was pounding clean out of my chest and I was overwhelmed with what had just happened, but the light was fading and I knew that it was time to leave whilst the coast was clear.




It took several more visits before I was able to ascertain which entrances they were regularly using, but I saw badgers every single time. Using 4 grouped entrances undercover of ferns and foliage, I was forced to sit on the steepest section of the hill in order to keep far back whilst still being in visual contact. To this day, I’m constantly battling to not slip down the bank; my tripod has spiked feet… my shoes do not.

My first night sat observing this area proved to be even more extraordinary than the first, as I watched 7 individuals leave the sett and forage in the area, with the largest boar coming within a few meters but apparently never recognising that I was present…





This would be the beginning of an adventure for me, visiting regularly to see my ‘badger family’. As the summer went on, individuals gradually earned names due to their unique characteristics and personalities. Mr Piggy was a young cub who overnight developed a severe abscess on the side of his face. I was very clearly beyond emotional attachment, being distraught and concerned for his future.

You can imagine how overjoyed I was when 3 days later I saw him again, with an albeit slightly gross burst abscess and his usual, quirky personality beaming through. Monitoring his progress, I watched it heal over time and this, paired with his personality, earned him the name.


It’s hard to know if they’re aware that I’m there or not, never coming ‘too close’ but they undoubtedly seem far more comfortable and less skittish than when I first began to spend time with them. I like to think that they know I’m there, choosing to gift me with a few moments of their day whenever I’m there.


It is because of these extraordinary experiences that any negative opinion of these creatures, even in modern society, baffles me. Timid at first, their charisma quickly shines through. Playing, grooming and being generally clumsy, they could easily be mistaken for our own furry household companions.


If you’d be interested in taking a photography workshop with Tesni, please click here for more details. From British seals, birds, lizards or the Peak District landscape- Tesni can show you the way around photographing them all! 




We went to the Rollercoaster Restaurant at Alton Towers and it was amazing…


Your food gets delivered to you on it’s own MINI-ROLLERCOASTER!


When you first hear the term ‘Roller Coaster Restaurant’, you might be bombarded with visions of someone frantically trying to eat a burger whilst on a loop-de-loop, yes?

And even though this is a fairly entertaining thought, you’ll be relieved to know that it is, in fact, the FOOD that gets a roller coaster ride, not the both of you.


AT RollerRest Photo HR 04.jpg

This instantly filled me with child-like glee as I rushed off to make my order (on a special table-side tablet nonetheless), and watch it have the time of its life on a mini roller coaster.

The atmosphere was brilliant, there were videos of rollercoaster rides projected onto the walls, chips and drinks spinning in all sorts of corkscrew loops overhead and expectant eyes and index fingers flying everywhere.



So, we began with drinks and ordered two cans of fizzy pop. They came down in their own private carriage, tops fastened on with what looked like tiny oven gloves and elastic. Off they went from the kitchen, all the way down to the helter-skelter slide and finally landed onto our table, and voila- our drinks were in front of us.



Of course we immediately dove into ordering our dinners and this time, our mains travelled through their own corkscrew! The food itself was beautiful, you couldn’t taste at all that it had been turned upside down at super quick speed- in fact, having seen its exciting journey probably made it taste even better!

It would be impossible to get bored in this restaurant, the place is full to the brim with pure joy and excitement. No matter what age you are, this would be a fantastic end to a day at Alton Towers!


Book a table here.

5 Star luxury in the Peak District…


After a long day exploring the vast landscapes and quaint villages of the Peak District & Derbyshire, imagine winding down for the rest of the evening in a luxurious B&B or self-catering apartment… sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?

So, here’s a handful of our most gorgeous 5 star properties in the area:

Underleigh House




Underleigh house was built in 1873 as a typical Derbyshire longhouse with living accommodation at one end, a cart shed at the other with winter housing for stock in the middle and a hayloft above.  Great walks (such as the Great Ridge between Loose Hill and Mam Tor, Win Hill , Crookstone Moor, and Ladybower) can be undertaken directly from the door- suggested routes/maps are provided. Also nearby are: Chatsworth House, Haddon Hall, Lyme Park and Hardwick Hall to consider, not forgetting the charms of Castleton (and its caves), Hathersage, Eyam (the ‘Plague Village’), Tideswell, Bakewell, and Buxton-

Bretton Cottage, Eyam


Bretton cottage is a charming 17th Century former Farmhouse situated within the tranquil hamlet of Bretton, surrounded by spectacular panoramic views of the Derbyshire Countryside. Lovely scenic walks across wild flower meadows, woodland areas and moorland are right on your doorstep!

Silver Ridge, near Matlock



Silver Ridge is set over eleven acres of mature gardens, surrounded by fields and woodlands. This is a real high quality place to stay, and offers a little haven of peace and quiet! Its location means you can easily explore the surrounding Peak District and make the most of your trip.


The Smithy



Originally the 17th century ‘Drovers Inn’ and after that a traditional Blacksmiths! Full of character, this centrally located accommodation is situated in the beautiful, rolling landscape of the Peak District National Park. The Smithy, a lovingly restored Grade II listed building provides distinctive, private accommodation in an unforgettable setting.


Bridge Hill House



Bridge Hill House offers modern yet cosy accommodation which is actually on the hillside overlooking the Derwent Valley! There’s also panoramic views of Belper mill town too boot!


The Old Lock-Up



This unusual and quirky historical  guest accommodation is perfect for a romantic break for those wanting to stay somewhere a little bit different. Rooms dripping with character are situated in the Derbyshire Dales, the edge of the Peak District National Park. This idylic location means great walking, Chatsworth, Carsington, the High Peak and Tissington Trails are all very easy to get to!



And here’s some 5 star self-catering


Church Farm Cottage & Barn



Church Farm’s Dovedale Cottages offer two gold award winning self-catering cottages nestling in the grounds of an organic farm in the tranquil and peaceful setting of Dovedale. A great deal of conservation has been taken out on this Grade I listed building, having been tastefully refurbished to retain much of their original charm!

This really is the ultimate countryside cottage; with beamed ceilings, richly coloured rugs and a cosy open fire to warm your toes. There’s also a gorgeous cottage garden with wonderful rambles from door to the dales.


Slade House Farm



Slade House Farm, no longer a working farm, provides 3 luxury and very individual self catering holiday properties in glorious farmland surrounded by outstanding views of the Derbyshire/Staffordshire countryside.

The village of Ilam and the picturesque valleys of Dovedale and the Manifold are spectacular walks right from the doorstep- countryside living at its finest!




The Ultimate Summer Walk in the Peak District

Guest Blogger: Cath Lee, of Peak Walking Adventures

August is the perfect time to enjoy a walk in the part of the Peak District known as The Dark Peak.  The heather on the moors bursts into flower, and vast swathes of moorland take on the appearance of being carpeted in purple.  As you walk along in the sunshine, a lovely honey scent can be released as your legs brush against flowers at the side of the path.

The Dark Peak extends down the east and west sides of the Peak District and takes in most of the northern part of the National Park, so there is plenty of choice when it comes to moorland walks.

One of my personal favourites is Stanton Moor near to the villages of Birchover and Stanton in Peak.  It’s also not too far from the towns of Matlock and Bakewell.  A lovely network of paths lead around the edges, and across this small area of moorland.  You can enjoy far reaching views down the Derwent Valley from the eastern edge.



Stanton Moor is home to the famous Nine Ladies Stone Circle.  Believed to date back to Bronze Age times, and a place where ceremonies one took place, possibly of a religious nature.  The information board there tells the entertaining story as to how the stone circle got its name.

Other fascinating features scattered around the moor include the Earl Grey Tower which was built to commemorate the passing of The Great Reform Act of 1832, and is named after the Prime Minister at that time.  You can also marvel at a number of impressive gritstone rocks, such as the aptly named Cork Stone.

For a gentle walk of up to 3 miles, you could start and finish in the village of Birchover.  The 172 bus passes through the village from Matlock or Bakewell.  If you have a car, you could even park your car on Birchover Road north of the village at the actual entrance to the moor.

For a longer walk involving a hill, the village of Rowsley on the A6 between Matlock and Bakewell is a good place to start.  You can take the footpath running directly south from Cauldwell’s Mill, passing Stanton Woodhouse Farm, then wind your way up the hillside on footpaths and lanes until you reach the moor.  After exploring the beautiful moorland, a great route back down to Rowsley is to exit the moor at the northern end onto Lees Road, then take the footpath that runs at the side of Sheepwalk Wood onto Pilhough Lane, then on paths over fields and on lanes back to Rowsley.  As you walk down the hillside you can enjoy spectacular views up the Derwent Valley, over the Haddon Estate, and towards the market town of Bakewell.

The Ordnance Survey, White Peak (OL24) Explorer Map is ideal to show you all of the footpaths and to help you find your way.

When walking over the beautiful moorlands, and through the pretty countryside of the Peak District, please follow the Countyside Code to help protect it, and enable others to enjoy a similar experience after you.


8 Things To We Love Best About the Peak District


It’s National Parks week this week!

So, we thought we’d ask our Facebook fans what they love best about walking in the Peak District, the first National Park in the country, and here’s a few of our favourites…


Birchen Edge Taken by Rebecca Read National Parks Week Quoteedale National Parks week QuoteFeeling like nothing else matters Bamford Quotefreedom to roam birchen edge quoteSnake Pass woods quote National Parks WeekThe changing colours Longshaw Estate


Edale river national parks quote


Three Ships Aphorism


If you’d like to tell us your favourite thing about the Peak District & Derbyshire, let us know via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


You can also join in the conversation about National Parks Week by using #NationalParksWeek on social media.




5 English Gardens You Need To Visit This Summer


2016 is the year of the English garden, so let’s celebrate!

Here’s a few of our favourites that we think are well worth a visit:


1- Gardens of Renishaw Hall

Winner of the 2015 ‘Garden of the Year Award’ you can imagine just how magical this garden is!

The first thing that greets you is the Italian inspired part of the garden, with perfect symmetry, water fountains and delicate statues. Walking down through all of this loveliness, you can see a beautiful old trees,a lake and field full of cows. There’s also a wilder part of the garden which includes bluebells and a newly planted walk-through arch of hanging laburnum- which is stunning when they’re in bloom! An undeniably brilliant day out.



2-Chatsworth Gardens

This is the ultimate example of the ‘English Garden’, designed by Capability Brown 300 years ago, it’s been added to ever since. There’s water features, a kitchen garden, stunning landscaping, captivating sculptures and even a maze! It’s a fascinating garden that will leave you feeling like a Duke or Duchess.


Photo by Guy Badham Photography



3-Haddon Hall Gardens

It’s easy to find yourself fantasising that you’re the lead role in a moody period drama when wandering around this gorgeous garden. There’s beautiful stone turrets, an Elizabethan inspired knot garden, gorgeous terraces, beautiful red roses- all set on the background rolling hills and the river Wye.



4-Hardwick Hall Gardens

The gardens of Hardwick Hall have a fantastic collection of  courtyards, gorgeous flower boarders, orchards, lawns, and wonderful formal hedges. They also are claimed to have ‘one of the finest herb gardens in the country’!

Where ever you turn there’s always a gorgeous scene, with both Hardwick hall and the Hardwick Old Hall in plain view from the gardens- it’s a real pleasure to explore!



5-Kedleston Hall Gardens

As well as the grounds of Kedleston Hall having gorgeous land for some country walks, it’s also home to ‘pleasure grounds’. These are one of the best surviving examples of an 18th-century informal landscape. Although it looks natural, the landscape was actually intricately designed to show the Hall and its environment in the best possible light- a beautiful and unique example of the English garden!





We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of Peak District gardens, and if you’ve taken any snaps yourself, we’d love to see, so tag us @visitpeakdistrict on Instagram, @vpdd on Twitter or via Facebook– we will be sure to share the best ones with all of our social media friends too!











Arkwright’s Mill at Cromford: The Ever-Evolving World Heritage Site

Arkwright’s Mill at Cromford is a place that changed the course of history forever.

Created in 1771, it was the first ever water-powered cotton spinning mill in the world. After that, industry and society were never to be the same again!





Cromford Mill’s Brand New Additions:


After some fantastic restoration, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cromford Mill now has a brand new look! Along with some great new exhibitions, it’s also now made Cromford the starting point for the whole of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Which includes fifteen miles of Derbyshire’s historic mills and industrial areas, all the way south to the Derby Silk Mill and the Joseph Wright Gallery.


Once you arrive at the Cromford Mill site you can have a browse in the unique shops, which sell everything from antiques, original art, textiles, crafts to second-hand treasures in ‘Arkwright’s Attic’!



Next up is the brand new ‘Arkwright Experience’ exhibition and tour! You can explore the first ever mill with this new and fascinating projection tour, which is hosted by Sir Richard Arkwright himself!  Let the father of industry tell you all about the daily workings of the mill and how he built his water-powered empire.

This is a unique way of travelling through time and feeling as if you’re seeing the first ever mill in full swing!

Richard_Arkwright_Hologram_017Image by Business Link East Midlands



Also in the new Gateway Information Hub, there are some more hands-on activities, such as interactive tablets, films and physical 3D maps. These  allow you  to find out exactly what  the 17 designated sites contained within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Sites are about, and their history-  it’s a great way to start to a  journey though the history of the area.

There are also new audio tours, English, German and Mandarin, so now more people than ever can enjoy the history of Cromford!




Besides being the only World Heritage Site in the whole of the East Midlands, Cromford Mill also offers a fantastic canal side cafe, so after your fun day of shopping and time-travelling back to a day in the world’s first ever mill, you can relax by the canal and enjoy some food or just some tea and cake!






Cromford Mills is a charity, therefore all proceeds go back into the site, so why not have a fantastic day out and help to keep local industrial history alive?

Click here for more information on your day out at Cromford!


This was an advertorial for Cromford Mills.

Walk of the Month: June



The summer months in the Peak District and Derbyshire are glorious- it’s best time of year to visit the national park. So, make the most of that nice sunny day and take a walk down the Longdendale trail!


Longdendale views


This trail starts in Hadfield within the Peak District.

You can catch a train from Manchester or drive with ample space to park in this area. The walk this month is flat, with options of hills if desired, it has great views and can be as long a day as you fancy! As well as being a range of difficulty levels on this trail,  there are also facilities, accommodation and services in the town to suit everyone.


There are many reservoirs that line the long wooded valley known as Longdendale, such as: Bottoms, Valehouse, Rhodeswood, Torside and Woodhead. They are fuelled by the river Etherow which also powered the mills of Glossop.

Here’s a little bit of history for you: John Bateman helped to construct the reservoirs starting in 1849 so the growing population of Manchester would not be without and was key feature in the industrial revolution.


Right, so off we go!

Starting with a few easily walkable hundred metres from the train station or car parking you join the Longdendale trail and head east. Common with runners, pushchairs and ramblers this old railway line is sign posted and good under foot. Passing Bottoms reservoir then very peaceful Valehouse reservoir the hustle and bustle of modern life starts to melt away.


Looking to the sides of the trail there are plenty of colourful flowers to see. The pinky purple colour of herb robert (geranium robertianum), the bright yellow of tormentil (potentilla erecta) or the bleached white of ramson (wild garlic) add another aspect to the walk. See who can smell the next clump of wild garlic before they can see it!




As we approach Torside reservoir we cross paths with the famous Pennine Way. You can now choose to cross over the dam and head back along the path on the opposite side of Rhodeswood and Valehouse reservoirs ultimately leading back to Hadfield. You could alternatively continue along the path until you reach the disused Woodhead station and tunnel… lots of great options to choose from!




With occasional picnic benches, sign posts, accessible walking and constantly beautiful surroundings, Longdendale trail is ideal for any family looking for a countryside break from the city!


This blog was written by Matt Dawson of Trekking Skills

For your own professionally guided walks contact Matt on:












6 Fantastic Farm Shops & Farmers’ Markets in the Peak District & Derbyshire


It’s a widely acknowledged fact that locally grown food tastes better, right?

So here’s a few of the Peak District & Derbyshire’s best loved farm shops and farmers market so you know exactly where to get those local spuds, parsnips and sausages.


Ashover Linda Bussey 2


1- Chatsworth Farm Shop

Located in the idyllic village of Pilsey, near Chatsworth House is their farm shop- full of delicious produce fresh from the estate, tenant farms and local suppliers. More than half of the shop’s stock is either produced or prepared on the Chatsworth Estate itself. This charming farm shop is symbolic of ultimate country living!

There’s everything from bread and beer to poultry and pies and more than 100 cheeses- all of the finest quality .


2- Denby Farm Shop

This is brand new farm shop, and has food from Walter Smith, a farm established in 1885. Their meat, fresh vegetables and locally sourced goods are of the highest quality- the delicious deli counter also won’t disappoint lovers of good local produce!


3- Bakewell Farmers’ Market

This has to be the best known market in the area, and it occurs every Monday, when the town is at its busiest. The famous farmers Markets are held in the Agricultural Business Centre on the last Saturday each month- it’s a lovely day out to peruse the stalls and finish with a Bakewell Pudding!


Ashover Linda Bussey 3


4-Chesterfield Farmers’ Market

This market is truly at the heart of Chesterfield town and takes place on the second Thursday of every month on Central Pavement.

Stalls include fresh seasonal produce, organic vegetables, rare meats, fish, jams and handmade crafts direct from the producers. It’s the perfect place to pick up all of your fruit and veg for a locally grown dinner!


5-Croots Farm Shop

Found in the beautiful Ecclesbourne Valley is Croots Farm Shop & Kitchen,  offering a range of local food; so local in fact that 40 suppliers are within a fifty mile radius of the shop.

The deli counter offers home cooked hams and some sixty cheeses, many of which are hand-made in small quantities. Also there is a range of savoury pies, quiches, sausage rolls and scotch eggs, all made in the shop and ready for your lunch or picnic.


Ashover Linda Bussey


6-Buxton Farmers’ Market at the Pavilion

A day out in Buxton is always a treat, but every first Thursday of the month there’s a great farmers market in the Garden’s Marquee; the stalls will be packed full of great local food, produce and homemade crafts from the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales- you’re sure to find a tasty treat here!



So, next time you grab some local Peak District produce and proudly announce to the dinner table “this was grown just down the road”, think of us!


Peaks Collective: Capturing the Beauty of the Peaks Together

Peaks Collective are fresh, vibrant and passionate group of photographers who get together for regular social photography meets in the Peak District- this hub of brilliant artists want to share the beauty of the Peak District and inspiring more people to soak up this part of the world, and so we met with Ryan Sheppeck so he could tell us more about who they are…



Tell us about Peaks Collective; what’re your goals and aspirations?


Peaks Collective is a community-based project that commends the culture and landscape of the Peak District. Formed on Instagram @peakscollective, we have brought together the likes of Daniel Casson (@dpc_photography_) and Daniel Cook (@dan_scape) alongside many others, to provide a fresh insight into Park. Through imagery and stories, utilising this modern channel of communication, we are reaching out and connecting with those who know very little about the Peak District, inspiring them to get out there and experience it.

We truly believe in the importance of the outdoors and our goals and aspirations lie in sharing this understanding with others. In particular, we want to reach out to the urban communities of Sheffield and Manchester. You can access the heart of the Peak District from both cities in very little time yet many people neglect this opportunity. We envision stirring a desire in those people through no must-see lists, or comprehensive, OS grid-referenced hiking trails, just beautiful, arousing content.


How and when did you first get together?


Our first meet was back in October 2015. Some of the community had talked online before then but few had gone out together. We headed to Chatsworth House for sunrise, took plenty of photos, talked passionately and drank coffee. I think those who were there that morning would all agree with me when I say that from that point forward, we knew collectively we would create some real magic.

The multi-talented Dave Mullen Jnr shot the short video below that morning.



Since then we’ve aimed to meet around once a month. Though, it is encouraging to see that friendships have formed and exclusively of the #peakstameets, the Collective head out almost every weekend. We’ve also seen people take trips further afield to Scotland and the Lakes, there is a real movement and it’s encouraging.

Bringing together these creators can only benefit the Peak District. Through this project there will be more art, more inspiration, more people enjoying the outdoors. Its working and will only grow as we continue to push forward with our future plans.

What do you think makes you different from other photography groups?


I’ve never participated in a photography group so this is a little difficult for me to answer but my truest response would be that we don’t classify ourselves as one, and that reflects through the atmosphere we create. We talk gear, editing, inspiration, yeah, but we don’t rule anybody out. Starting out on Instagram, naturally we attract a youthful audience and you need nothing more than a mobile phone. Actually, you don’t even need that. Anybody can join our meets, it’s all about getting outdoors with like minded people, having fun and taking a great experience home with you. If you create some beautiful imagery we can use to encourage others, than that’s great, if not, you’ll have a story to tell. That’s what Peaks Collective is all about.


Where in the Peaks would you consider your ‘muse’?


Personally, the Hope Valley area is a huge inspiration. Winnats Pass was the first area in the Peaks that really blew me away and has me coming back time and time again; it’s my go-to location in the Park. But you also have Castleton, Cave Dale, the Great Ridge and Mam Tor, all within a very close proximity. It’s a truly incredible part of the World. The notorious inversions here have the Collective heading out at every opportunity to catch them. If I had to pick just one location, it would have to be here but, a special mention goes to Chrome Hill, my favourite meet was hosted here, a glorious Winter sunrise with a great turnout. The shot below by Daniel Casson shows just how magical it really was.


Processed with VSCOcam with a9 preset


Who inspires Peaks Collective?


We owe it all to the endeavors of a few key individuals, some of which I mentioned above. They have become my friends throughout this process and we would be nothing without them. By continuing to share their work with us, they have supported the growth of Peaks Collective purely for the good of others.

Also, the people I’ve met throughout my life that have motivated me to pursue my goals deserve much credit. Their words of advice and encouragement have got me through difficult times and have allowed me to continue evolving into the person I aspire to be. Peaks Collective is the result of that process.


What are the next steps for Peaks Collective?


Now is the time to begin building outside of Instagram. Our future vision is to create tangible pieces that can be used to reach out to those within the cities, alongside developing our own platform where people can come to find inspiration, build relationships and ask advice. It’s part of a process of learning how we can really connect with people, how we can deliver the imagery and stories we have to tell and resonate with urban communities. Connecting with Visit Peak District, along with other established shareholders, will allow us to continue creating work that has a lasting impact on generations to come, and we thank-you for that.


Follow the Peaks Collective journey on Instagram @peakscollective 


Main header image by Harry Bowden