Tag Archives: peak district

Derbyshire well dressing

Well dressing was originally a pagan custom of celebrating the gods of wells and springs to ensure a continued supply of fresh water, but it took on a particular significance in Derbyshire in the 17th century as a way of giving thanks for being spared from the Great Plague of 1665.

2014 well dressing in the village of Tideswell

2014 well dressing in the village of Tideswell

(The village of Eyam became known for the self-sacrifice of its inhabitants: after becoming infected after a tailor received a flea-infested parcel of cloth from London, they decided to quarantine themselves rather than spread the plague to surrounding villages. 260 out of 350 villagers died.)

Derbyshire well dressings take the form of elaborate pictures made from individual flower petals pressed onto clay-covered boards. These pictures may feature local landmarks, Biblical scenes, or historical events. The Tideswell well dressing shown here features landmarks from the nearby spa town of Buxton (Aqua Arnemetiae is its Roman name), including the frontage of its Victorian railway station.

Well dressings are usually displayed as part of a week-long festival in the village, and houses and the streets may also be decorated.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Customs

Rain not fog

Rain falling on the Hope Valley

Rain falling on the Hope Valley

It’s not the best weather in the Peaks today – rain with bonus hail and even a bit of thunder at Brough!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Photos

The Monsal Trail from Millers Dale

The Monsal Trail in the Peak District is a 8.5 mile-long trail from Bakewell to Wyedale running along the former Midland Railway line, which closed in 1968. To create the current Trail, four tunnels along the route were renovated and reopened in 2011, with access ramps and lighting to create a safe and relatively level trail for walkers, cyclists, and horseriders. The Trail follows the course of the river Wye, taking in some spectacular scenery alongside reminders of the history of the Peaks.

The disused station at Millers Dale

The disused station at Millers Dale

Millers Dale is a valley (and tiny hamlet) on the B6049 between Tideswell and the A6. Much of the area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and it’s a popular spot for visitors, with the car park at the now-disused station filling up rapidly on busy days!

At one time there were five platforms at Millers Dale, and the station seems very large for such a small hamlet. The reason for this is quite simple however – anyone wishing to travel to the spa town of Buxton had to change here. At one time this was an extremely busy line with both passenger and freight traffic, but the Beeching Report of 1962 sounded the death knell for the Midland Railway line. There’s some great information about the glory days of Millers Dale and the Midland Railway here.

Disused railway building next to the Trail

Disused railway building next to the Trail

The station building itself is now a visitor centre, providing toilet facilities and refreshments. Pay and display parking is available – there isn’t really anywhere else to park in Millers Dale as the hamlet is built into the sides of the valley. I’d suggest arriving early at weekends and during holiday periods, but generally it’s reasonably quiet. From the station the visitor has a choice of heading east or west along the Trail. Taking the eastern route leads down to the Chee Tor tunnels (1 & 2).

Chee Tor tunnel 1

Chee Tor tunnel 1

The tunnels are lit dawn to dusk but the Park Authority do recommend taking a torch if you’re there early or late in the day, as the lights are sensor-activated. The level of lighting inside the tunnel is good and the tunnel is wide enough not to be too claustrophobic.

The Trail gives some excellent views

The Trail gives some excellent views, even in miserable weather!

Not far from Millers Dale stand the East Buxton Lime Kilns. Cut into solid rock, the Lime Works was opened in 1880, with the concrete buttresses added in the 1920s. Limestone was brought in from nearby quarries and hauled up an incline to the kilns to produce quicklime, which was then shipped out by rail. At one time the kilns produced over 50 tonnes of quicklime a day.

East Buxton Lime Kilns

East Buxton Lime Kilns

The last kiln closed in 1944, and today the site is a nature reserve. The kilns can be viewed from the Trail, and a short walk up an incline takes you to the top of the Works where the limestone was brought in.

The Monsal Trail is a great route for a day out walking or cycling – bikes can be hired at either end of the Trail at Hassop or Blackwell Mill. It’s not a particularly challenging route, the path is wide and well-cleared, there are accessible facilities, and there’s plenty to explore in the surrounding area too.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Places

Mam Tor and the A625

Once upon a time (1819, to be exact), a road was built. What became the A625 headed westwards out of Sheffield, through Hathersage and Castleton in the Hope Valley, and wound its way across the Mam Tor landslip to finally arrive in Chapel-en-le-Frith. The Mam Tor routing replaced an ancient (and much steeper) cart route through Winnats Pass.

There was, however, a minor problem – the landslip. Mam Tor has been on the move for thousands of years, and it wasn’t long before the road had to be repaired. And then repaired again. And again.

Looking back over the Hope Valley from what remains of the A625

Looking back over the Hope Valley from what remains of the A625

In the 1970s a huge landslip meant that major repairs were needed but finally, in 1979, Derbyshire County Council admitted defeat and the road was abandoned. Today, Winnats Pass is the only (and very unsuitable) direct route out of the western end of the Hope Valley, but the remains of the old A625 have become a tourist attraction in their own right.

Usually, when we walk at Mam Tor, we park at Mam Nick and take the usual routes to the summit, but this weekend we decided to explore the old road instead, and it was definitely an experience!

Collapsed road at Mam Tor

Collapsed road at Mam Tor

As with any walk in the Peak District, particularly around Castleton at the weekend, my advice is to get there early, before the crowds appear. There’s plenty of parking along the old road up to and around the bus turning circle by Odin’s Mine, a disused lead mine at the foot of Mam Tor (please note that the mine is dangerous and shouldn’t be entered). Just head up the road and very soon you will start to see the signs of movement – the fissures in the road surface, the crumbling edges – before you round a corner and suddenly realise exactly why the road had to be closed!

Collapsed section of the old A625

Collapsed section of the old A625

The walk up the road isn’t bad going – just watch your step in places. The road brings you out by Blue John Cavern (or you can, if you’re feeling adventurous, strike out for the Mam Tor summit on your right). Otherwise there’s a very pleasant descent via a footpath heading east from Blue John Cavern that brings you out by Treak Cliff Cavern.

View of Back Tor and Lose Hill from Blue John Cavern

View of Back Tor and Lose Hill from Blue John Cavern

Whether you do the walk as a stand-alone or incorporate it into a longer walk/day trip, the old A625 is definitely worth a look as a reminder of just how unforgiving nature can be!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Places

Photo post: out in the country

High Bradfield 1(View across the valley to Agden and High Bradfield)

Leave a Comment

Filed under Photos

Photo: Spring is here

Spring in the Peak District. 9 March 2014

Spring in the Peak District. 9 March 2014

Leave a Comment

Filed under Photos

Photo post: You can see the weather rolling in

Agden, January 2014

Agden, January 2014

Leave a Comment

Filed under Photos

A new year in the Peaks

Bradfield, January 2014

Bradfield, January 2014

January is one of my favourite times of year in the Peaks behind early spring, when the heather is blooming and the fields are full of newborn lambs. Late autumn/early winter tends to be wet and windy – turbulent is the word that often comes to mind on those dark mornings where the rain is coming in horizontally! – but January mornings tend towards the crisp and clear and beautiful.

Mam Tor, January 2014

Mam Tor, January 2014

It’s a great time of year to head out into the hills, as long as you wrap up warm! I’m a big fan of Craghoppers fleece-lined winter trousers (men’s and women’s) which have survived both a trek through Glencoe in a Scottish winter gale and a muddy half-slide, half-fall down the summit of Mam Tor, keeping me warm and dry both times.

Strines, January 2014

Strines, January 2014

(I should probably say that I have no connection to Craghoppers whatsoever; I just like their outdoor clothes).

Leave a Comment

Filed under Photos

Robin Hood and Jane Eyre

Hathersage 1 A first-time visitor to the Peak District could do much worse than starting out in the historic village of Hathersage, with its wealth of history and easy access to glorious countryside, but every now and then I get reminded that it’s worth repeat visiting too – not just a waypoint on a journey to somewhere else!

The Robin Hood connection comes from Little John of Hathersage, buried in the churchyard. The Peak District is littered with sites linked to Robin Hood (Sherwood Forest in those days would have stretched far further north than it does now) and Loxley, to the west of Sheffield and just eight miles from Hathersage, is often cited as his birthplace.

The Jane Eyre connection is slightly better-documented: in 1845 Charlotte Bronte came to stay at the vicarage and Hathersage would provide rich pickings for inspiration. The surname Eyre was that of a prominent local family, and other local landmarks became incorporated into Jane Eyre.

With plenty of facilities (including an outdoor swimming pool), Hathersage makes a good base for a day out or a longer stay in the Peaks, with easy access to the Hope Valley and the Upper Derwent Valley.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Places

Castleton

Castleton

Castleton is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Derbyshire Peak District. The village, and the castle that dominates the cliff face above it, date from the 11th century. Castleton lies on the boundary between the Dark Peak and White Peak areas of the Peak District.

Castleton is surrounded on three sides by steep hills, the most prominent of which is to the north, known as the Great Ridge. This includes Mam Tor (the Shivering Mountain), which has the remains of what is believed to be one of the oldest hill forts and two Bronze Age burial mounds in Britain at its summit.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Photos