Where were we? I was telling you about my last trip north before I got side-tracked… there has been so much going on lately! We’d had beautiful weather in Tissington, but it had turned cold and snowy as we reached the car, so we headed back to food and wine and to work on the books., hoping for decent weather Sunday. Or at least not heavy snow. We were lucky and though cold and grey, the morning looked promising as we headed out.
The sign for Shillito wood had intrigued me everytime I passed it. It was just at the end of this lane that I had seen the huge herd of unexpected deer a few weeks earlier. I had eventually stumbled across reference to a cross there. Apparently there was a car parking area on Fox Lane… which could not have been more synchronous considering we were sending Mister Fox, the graphic novel out into the world that weekend and we had already ended up at the Fox House inn because of the snowstorm. The bit of information I had found simply said there was a cross in the wood… like a needle in a haystack… so we parked the car close to where someone had set up a feeding station for the birds, bundled ourselves into as much warm clothing as we could, given the biting cold of early morning and headed out with little hope.
“I can see it,” said my companion after a whole two seconds. That was pretty good going. I couldn’t see it immediately, not even when he pointed it out to me, dressed as it was in the colours and lichen-lace of the woods. It was a strange find, literally out in the middle of the moorlands, now in a wood, though that might not always have been the case, of course.
The ‘Shepherd’s Cross’ it had been called on old maps and close by stands the Fox Lane cross of similar design, both thought to have been placed there by the monks of Beauchief Abbey… not far from my companion’s abode and where we had been witness to the stag defending his herd. Oddly enough, that was the morning after that first visit to see the Fox dance with flames beneath a hunter’s moon… and in many ways the story was the same.
There was the base of another cross, and somewhere a guide stoop with one of the poetic Companion Stones… but it was, we decided, a place to come back to in warmer weather. It was indeed bitterly cold so we bundled back into the car. The next planned stop was little more than a mile away and should, we hoped, be a very short walk from the car. The moors are high above sea level here, the winds chill and the weather always uncertain. Not a day to be out on the moors really. Not for long, anyway… and the prospect of a nice warm pub as soon as they opened was appealing. The trouble is, you really can’t rely on these hand drawn maps…