Monsal Viaduct, Derbyshire
Looking down upon the twin valleys of Monsal Dale and Upper Dale at one of Derbyshire best known beauty spots you pause to take in the tranquil surroundings. The River Wye winds its way through the dales only disturbed by Ducks and Fly Fishermen. Then of course there is the Railway Viaduct….once a vital link from Manchester down through the Peak and East Midlands and on down to London. The railway is long gone and now a walking and cycling trail with spectacular views. Whilst the railway does provide some clues that perhaps its location here was not just an accident of design it is the River that provides more clues to the areas Industrial past…
The River Wye with its clear waters flows for the most part silently and smoothly through the Dales but occasionally its path is diverted over many man made ‘improvements’. Some odd buildings, then there are weirs, falls and deep channels cut to temporarily divert the flow through mill sluices to power various mills both big and small, mills that ground cereals or bones whilst the larger mills this power was used in textile production.
But that is all in the distant past and today it is a wildlife and walkers haven, a walk where the sound of water is never out of earshot, passing places with names like Cressbrook, Riversdale and Water -cum-Jolly, it is here where you can see how the waters have cut these dales from the limestone….
At the head of Upper Dale, at Cressbrook, stands a massive Mill complex. Built originally by Richard Arkwright it was by all accounts a successful enterprise, past through various owner but eventually failed in the 1960’s. After a long period of neglect and decay the building was once again brought back to life and is now an modern Apartment complex…. and rather fittingly has its own water powered electric supply.
There is an similar mill about half a mile up stream on the Wye at Litton which has a much murkier past. History recounts that it took advantage of the then Child Apprentices Schemes, transporting children from the large cities, even as far away as London. They were then subject to very harsh working and poor living conditions. Local legends suggest that many lost their lives there.
Today that is all just historical memories and hard to visualise.
Indeed it is hard to imagine gazing at this green and tranquil landscape, that after it had been carved out by the receding ice age, that it was once a relatively populated area. Farming of course was one development, but mining for Lead and other minerals was also an important industry, followed by Quarrying for stone extraction and cutting. No doubt the smaller mills sprung up as part of the local economy followed by the larger Textile Mill complexes and of course the railways….. all now gone, now just added interest to a great spring walk in the Dales.
(C) David Oakes 2019
Location:- Millstones in Padley Gorge, The Derbyshire Peak District, England
(C) David Oakes 2015
Old Sheep Pens.
Not strictly monochrome….but I think fits the theme of Monochromatic….
and I feel also fits the mood of this remote location.
These Old Sheep pens are high up on the Howden Moors at the top of the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire. They are from the days when the numbers of sheep grazing these moors was much higher. Now in more enlightened times, which recognise the damage of over grazing, the numbers have been drastically reduced. The pens remain.
(C) David Oakes 2015
Heather on Stanton Moor
The day was sunny with blue skies…the forecast for the next two days was dire…..the headline was ” A months rain to fall in a two day deluge”.
We tend to take these warnings with a pinch of salt as rarely have they lived up to the threats. But best not to take a chance so we headed of to the moors to see if the August Heather carpet had arrived.
Indeed it had a lush purple carpet of Heather flowers
It is a sign that late summer is now upon us (where was summer some may ask?). The meadows around the moor are green and the trees in full leaf but the grasses and pasture have turned to that golden yellow/brown colour. In the Oak woods that surround the moor Bracken is reaching new heights, green fronds casting a shadow over the ground….but once out onto the open moor the colour of the Heather has pushed its way up through the Bracken and Bilberry giving cushions of its distinctive Purple colour all accompanied by a rich scent so attractive to bees.
July was a strange month. We had the hottest day on record, they say we had record rainfall for July….yet everywhere is dry. Up here on the moors the trails are sandy and just like walking along a beach, the vegetation is lush – full bodied, yet has that distinctive brittle tinder dry smell. The rocks are lost in the undergrowth, even Earl Grey’s Reform Tower, normally a striking landmark is swamped by its surrounds.
A perfect late summers day….as for tomorrow we wait and see.
(C) David Oakes 2015
A day on and around White Edge Moor…..
Dawn….The Solitary White Edge Lodge, White Edge Moor, Derbyshire
After a week of dark grey skies and the occasional rain we woke on Tuesday to a clear blue sky. So an early start was indicated so as not to waste this opportunity. White Edge Moor and Longshaw in the Derbyshire Peak District was the chosen destination.
Just over a week ago you would have had difficulty in reaching the aptly named White Edge Lodge as it and the surrounds were under a covering of deep snow. A week later and you ask…what snow? The ground was still very wet and as the sun rose its heat started to create a haze which soon started to fog the horizon.
Walking the heights was great, but it was also equally as good to drop down below the horizon, out of the cutting wind and explore the woodlands and area around Longshaw. I mentioned wind, well there always seems to be a wind up here in this part of the Peak District…..look at the trees and you soon know which way the prevailing wind blows! All have a permanent drunk lean.
At the start of the walk Longshaw pond was still frozen but on our return it had thawed…..not that our body thermometers indicated any real rise in temperature. Normally the fields around Longshaw are good grazing for sheep but the shepherd, aware of the snow and cold had moved them closer to the farm, leaving the fields eerily quiet. The Stonewalls cutting across the fields, so often used as shelter by the flocks, looking rather stark against the blank landscape.
Here are a few images from the day
(C) David Oakes 2015