Portside…….

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The Port of Ravenglass, Eskdale, Cumbria

In the shadow of the Cumbrian Mountains, one the northern edges of Morecambe Bay and overlooking the Irish Sea, can be found the old Port of Ravenglass.   It doesn’t look much like a port, just a few hints that relate to its past maritime history….. but make no mistake that this was once a very busy Port.

From Roman times, through to at least the 1940’s, Ravenglass was a Port of some importance.  At both ends of that time spectrum it has been a vital strategic and then commercial link, though its fortunes did fluctuate.   There is no harbour infrastructure, no docks.  Vessels were sailed in on the high tide and left beached as the tide went out.  It was then a frantic exercise to either unload or load the vessel before the tide came in on its twice a day cycle.

The Romans built a road from Ravenglass, up through Eskdale, to link into their major highways they had built through Britain. They also built a Fort and Bath House “Glannoventa” at Ravenglass.

In 1875 a narrow gauge steam railway was built to carry minerals from the Cumbrian Fells.  Today that Railways is a major Tourist attraction now carrying visitors on a dramatically scenic ride through Eskdale.

A visit to Ravenglass is a step back in history……   all peaceful now, but once a centre of much activity.

Please Remember to ….

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

18th March

(C) David Oakes 2021

All Calm on the Canal…..

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Leawoods Pump House, Cromford Canal, Cromford, Derbyshire

All is calm on Cromford Canal as Spring slowly returns.  A tranquil location, but once a busy transport waterway.  The tall chimney is a landmark for miles arround. It is part of a steam powered water pump, constructed in 1849,  used to lift water from the River Derwent, which flows some 60ft beneath the canal, up and into the canal.  I am told that when it was in full steam it would lift 39,000 tons of water every 24 hours to keep the canal ‘topped up’

Once Covid restrictions are removed visitors will, once again, be able to see the mighty pump engine in action on special “In Steam” weekends.

If you are not a steam enthusiast, then a quiet walk along the Canal Towpath is a satisfying alternative at any season of the year.

Please Remember to ….

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

16th March

(C) David Oakes 2021

Not… A Bridge too Far

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Connel Bridge, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

There are not that many Bridge in the UK that have Listed Status, being of historic importance…. but Connel Bridge is justifiably one of them. When it was built in 1903, its 524ft cantilever span was the second longest in Scotland.  Only the famous Forth Railway Bridge was bigger, both having been constructed by Arrol Bridge Builders..

Connel Bridge stands at the mouth of Loch Etive where it joins the Firth of Lorne. It is at  times a tempestuous location,  the water flowing out of Loch Etive meets the incoming tides, which together with the deep channels, create the Falls of Lora.

As for the Bridge itself, it has had a chequered history.  Originally built as a Railway Bridge for the Callander and Oban Railway, it carried a single track line. Later a narrow roadway was built alongside the rail line.  For a time cars were conveyed on a wagon…..  for a Toll of course..  The Railway closed in 1966 and the line removed and replaced by a single track road.  Today,  a one way traffic system is controlled via Traffic lights.

Progress has seen a many, much bigger, bridge constructions. But Connel Bridge with its unique highland backdrop and the turbulent waters below, has a special magic of its own.

Whatever metaphorical bridges you have to negotiate today….

Please Remember to ….

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

18th February

(C) David Oakes 2021

Once a Quarry……

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Padley Gorge, Grindleford, Derbyshire

When  walking round our county of Derbyshire, you are always walking through our industrial history.  Here at Padley Gorge, in what is now a Nature Reserve, surrounded by high Beech Trees, spralling Oak and spindly Silver Birch, it is hard to visualise that this was once a busy quarry.

Millstone Grit was rough cut on site, a major center for mill wheels and grinding stones. Often called an open air factory, it must have been a place of endless activity.  Then dramatically the market collapsed, as progress and an improved method of manufacture was developed.   But even then the Gorge was restless,  quarrying was resumed for Gritstone Blocks used in the construction of the nearby Derwent Reservoir Dams.

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Most signs of the Quarry workings have vanished beneath the undergrowth. Today its a tranquil gorge, in spring is full of birds, the woodlands providing acres of great nesting sites.

Please Remember ….

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

19th December

(C) David Oakes 2020

A Frosty Canal Walk…. just right for a November Morning

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Shardlow on the Trent & Mersey Canal, Derbyshire

Nearly the end of November and winter appears to have arrived.  Mist and frost to welcome in the morning…  but also a sun determined to burn the mist away quickly.  An ideal day for a walk along the canal.  The Trent & Mersey Canal, as the name suggests links the River Trent on the Derbyshire Nottingham border, here in middle England, with the River Mersey and the Industrial North West.  From Shardlow to the Mersey it is some 93 miles. It was once a major highway for goods, now it is a leisure waterway and part of the National Canal network.  Today though it was quiet.  CV19 restrictions have temporarily left the waters still….never seen them so calm.  But on with the walk, join us on a stroll from Shardlow Basin to Derwent Mouth.

The start (or end depending upon direction of travel) is at Derwent Mouth.  It is a wide expanse of water.  Here the Derbyshire River Derwent, that has flowed down from high in the Peak District, ends it journey, entering the River Trent as it heads eastward to the North Sea. It is also here that the Trent & Mersey Canal has its junction with the two rivers.  A series of Locks are used to maintain the water levels in the Canal and to enable it to rise above the river flood plain. 

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There is a bridge that straddles the River Trent.  A sweeping Metal contraption.  It is called ‘Long Horse Bridge‘.  The clue is in the name…..  the barges, that used to ply their trade along the canal, were for many years Horse Drawn.  Todays bridge is a new addition, the original (and in my view) and much more attractive Long Horse Bridge, was lost some years ago in floods. 

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A real bonus day, not sure what tomorrow or indeed the weekend has in store for us weather wise…..  so I hope you enjoyed this weather bonus.

Please Remember ….

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

26th November

(C) David Oakes 2020