A Misty Start…. but at least some sun for a welcome change


A misty, but sunny start to this December day….  even though I had an early start, by the time I reached the Cromford Canal that mist had started to rise. Not that the mist completely disappeared, it just rose and formed a thin cloud layer above the tree level.  Being the day following the solstice the sun never climbed that high to reach the valley floor.  Still not a bad day for a canalside walk…. and after the recent rains it was just great to have a dry winter walk.


The building in the images above is of industrial heritage importance.  It is one of the first of the Railway buildings on the High Peak Railway, one of the earliest railways.  It is here that the Railway formed a link with the canal.

  Nor was I alone, being joined by a curious family of Mute Swans…. they seemed to want the company.

Over the day the cloud once again won out….. so no clear sky this evening,  once again we missed the Christmas Star…. maybe tomorrow

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

22nd December

(C) David Oakes 2020

Moody Monday….. On the Cut!


Cromford Canal, Derbyshire

Moody and all quiet along the cut.  Why cut?  well these canals were hand made, dug out by hard labour and a spade, “cut” through the countryside.

Cromford Canal was given a license to be dug by Act of Parliament in 1789.  It was to be a vital commercial link between Sir Richard Arkwright’s Mill complex at Cromford with the wider canal network across England. Sadly that link has been lost many years ago.  So for the time being this section of the Cromford Canal is isolated and tranquil, a haven for wildlife.  Some hope that one day that network link will be restored and waterways traffic resumed.

Cromford is of course the home of the Industrial Revolution and Arkwright was instrumental in its development.  Apart from the canal, Arkwright was in part responsible for the creation of the High Peak Railway.  The wharf building above was not just a canal feature but also one of the very first Railway warehouses on a Railway network. The High Peak Railway was again a major industrial construction achievement, a railway built through and across terrain that even todays engineers would bulk at.

A Moody location but once the key to progress in transport.

Please Remember ….

Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other

16th November

(C) David Oakes 2020

March…. nearly the end of another Month

High Peak Junction Wharf

Cromford Canal at High Peak Junction, Cromford

March has really marched along at a pace….and whilst it has thrown some pretty awful weather our way overall it has been rather a nice way into Spring.

Early morning, the trees along the canal side are starting to green-up and vegetation breaking out of the cold ground and with the promise of a day of sunshine and no wind the canal is still and mirror like.

Not a bad day for a walk along a stretch of Englands Industrial past here in Derbyshire’s, World Heritage Site.

28th March

(C) David Oakes 2019

Through the Gate and over the Hill…..


It was what I described as another “bonus day”…..the weather has been giving us some rare treats for October.  Certainly the temperatures are very much lower today but the sun still shone in a near cloudless sky.  It magically caught the autumnal colours but also emphasised the greens that still cover most of the woodland.

So we headed off early to take most advantage of our good fortune, over the fields and then heading down through the woods to the River Derwent where mist still lingered.

Then it was on to Cromford Canal.  The towpath and canal side vegetation is still lush with the trees of Lea Woods (mainly Oak) casting dark shadows much in contrast to the piercing glare of the low sun.

Cromford Canal was one of the first canals to be constructed. Sir Richard Arkwright was the prime mover in its planning and construction. Arkwright’s “Industrial Revolution” at Cromford Mills demanded a faster means of bulk transportation of his goods,  a canal was seen as the means to achieving this and keeping him ahead of his competitors.

Built in 1793 it was proving to be a success till two misfortunes occurred. The first was the collapse of  Lea aqueduct over the River Derwent…this was rebuilt but obviously took time. Industrial progress was amazingly fast in those times and new fangled contraption called a railway was built alongside the canal as an alternative means of transport. There are numerous Railway buildings alongside the canal as intriguing reminders.

Once the canal was back in use the second and much bigger problem arose…. the water supply to the canal was cut off. There was no easy alternative supply so engineering solutions had to be found.

The building below is the answer… it is Lea Pump House.  Built in 1849 it is a steam powered pump and its giant piston can lift 800 gallons of water on each stroke from the River Derwent up into the canal some 30ft above the river.  When the canal traffic was at its busiest, the pump worked continually and could pump over 470400 gallons per hour.   The pump still works today and ‘Steam Weekends occur regularly through the summer months.


Lea Steam Pump House and Derwent Aqueduct

14th October

(C) David Oakes 2015

Lea Wood and Cromford Canal


A cold but sunny morning on which to end what must be the mildest November on record and just right for a walk around Leawoods and along the Cromford Canal.


Leawoods lie just about midway along the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire. The woods themselves are now part owned I believe by a partnership between the local community and The Woodland Trust which has given them valuable protection, rightly so as they are an important mix of native trees.



Cromford Canal winds in an arc below Lea Wood Hill many feet above the River Derwent.  With Leawoods on one side and Derwentside Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve on the other the location presents a scene of peace and tranquillity.  At one time the canal ran from its start at Cromford down to the Erewash Canal and onto the River Trent.  The scene when the canal was built was far from tranquil as Cromford was the place selected by Arkwright for his first water powered manufacturing mills, a milestone for the region but also for the world as this was just the start of the Industrial Revolution.


Canals need water and in its very early days the canal was so busy that in dry weather it was difficult to keep the canal topped up with water from the original soughs.  The solution was to build Leawoods Steam Pump House.  The large steam engine was used to lift 4 ton’s of water on each cycle from the River Derwent to the canal, a massive 39,000 ton’s per day.  The Steam Engine is preserved by its own Conservation Trust and can be seen in full steam on various weekends through the year.

But Arkwright was not one to rest on his commercial laurels for as busy as the Cromford Canal was its was soon surpast in carrying capacity and speed by the Railways. Arkwright was again right on the ball and invested in the creation of the High Peak Railway.  Built to link Cromford to Bugsworth (ultimately Manchester and Liverpool) and enable fast transport of raw materials one way and finished goods the other. Again ingenuity and steam were used to overcome natural obstacles.  Immediately after the start of the High Peak Railway at Middleton Junction  the trains (or rather carriages) were hauled up an immense incline by chain and stationery steam engines.  It is truly amassing that in such a compact and once isolated area that so many new innovations occurred……makes you realise that our ancestors were very creative and brave entrepreneurs, and could probably put many of to-days to shame.


A ‘linesman’s’ shed at High Peak Junction where the High Peak Railway met  Cromford Canal.

Map picture


LINK for info on Leawoods Pump House: http://www.derbyshire-peakdistrict.co.uk/leawoodpump.htm

30th November