A great family day in the Peak District

 

 

This is probably one of the best book reviews I have received, if not the best. Messages like this make everything worthwhile, especially when the young have such a fantastic time out in the Peak District.

Daniel Simpson sent me this message via facebook of a day out with his family. They chose to do PB Walk 5 Grindleford to Higger Tor. If you want to introduce children to walking and have a good time, then this is definitely the walk to do. Thank you to Daniel and his family.

Hi Paul. Just wanted to say how much we enjoyed our walk today. By far and away the highlight was just how much my son’s enjoyed themselves they wee enjoying it every bit as much as me if not more so. So often I feel like I’m cajoling them in to something they’re not massively keen on but the past two Sundays have been an absolute blast. I didn’t really use the guidebook whilst walking last week but we had loads of time today so I let my 10 year old lead the way following the instructions, when we were at the rear of the chapel and he realised where he was stood was the same as the one in your book it blew his mind…it was lovely honestly, he was almost starstruck and later on when we walked past the gritstones he recognised those as well and demanded the book to confirm what he was seeing was the one from the book. I managed to snap him posting and getting good really giddy, it looks contrived but he was going ‘look !…that’s those from the book’. Thanks again, really enjoyed it today.

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Grainfoot Farm – World War Two

Above is Grainfoot Farm in the Derwent Valley, Peak District National Park, as it can be seen today, alongside a watercolour by Kenneth Rowntree from 1940, shortly before it was demolished to make way for the new Ladybower Reservoir. The two Ordnance Survey maps, one from 2018 and one from 1852 show the position of the map in the landscape and perhaps more importantly today the position of the field boundaries and other landscape items.

The farm was, at one time in the possession of the Eyre family, well-known landowners in Derbyshire, still in existence today. It passed through various other hands, by marriage and purchase, before finding itself in the way of the new reservoir and scheduled for demolition.

The farm was painted by Kenneth Rowntree of the War artists Advisory Committee, not because of its imminent demise but as part of a project to record the changing face of Britain. This started in 1939, overseen by Kenneth Clark, father of the Tory MP Alan Clark, and was devised to record important buildings and artefacts of Britain incase they were destroyed by the second world war. It also coincided with a growing realisation that the landscape was changing at a rapid rate, due to urban development, industrial growth, changing agricultural practices and a shift in the social cohesion of the country after world war one. It followed similar projects carried out in America under the Federal Arts Project. It was felt that by celebrating the unique British landscape in art, morale would be boosted during the darkest hours of the war.

V&A Museum Collection

Kenneth Rowntree

War Artists Advisory Committee

Derwent Village – Peak District

Brick made by Skyers Spring. Found in the remains of Derwent Village. Peak District
Brick made by Skyers Spring. Found in the remains of Derwent Village. Peak District

Here is a little bit of social industrial history.

I found this brick sat in the remains of the flooded Peak District village of Derwent, it was sat in the mud on what would have been the main street. The brick was made at Skyers Spring brickworks in Hoyland, Barnsley around 1880 and found its way to the village for some use or other. It is an engineering brick, not used for adornment, so probably formed some infrastructure of the village.

It probably travelled over via Penistone, either across Strines along the Mortimer Road and then hang a right at Moscar Cross, up the bridleway to Whinstone Lee Tor and then down via Grindle Barn to the village. Or alternatively via Cut Gate from Langsett over the top and into the Upper Derwent Valley. The brickworks were run by James Smith and had connections to the Earls Fitzwilliam, who still have extensive shooting moors along the Strines Road. There was extensive trade between the two areas which accounts for the routes across the tops. It’s nice to see artifacts around that were from local sources.

 

Dark Peak Walks book review

It is always pleasing to get feedback like this. Thank you Ann and Austin.

Wow and Wow again. What a beautiful beautiful book.

We both individually turned to one of our favourite walks from days gone by. (Page 168) Your description of the series of water falls at Birchin Clough and the cacophony of notes, filled my heart and mind with memories and the sheer joy of it all. I am sitting here amazed.

And then my Ann said have you seen this? Showing me the inside of the wrapping paper, WOW! Could it ever be that my adventures could ever begin again? Only time will tell. As for now Paul, I/we will always want the good times to continue for you both, now and forever (and for Scout)

And also, never did I imagine that I’d be considering framing a piece of brown paper with a few special words written on or that I coil up a length of Sisal string to placed in a memory box.

All in all you have “done good” well done that man.

Thank you.

Austin and Ann

Please Vote for Dark Peak Walks in this years TGO awards here

Shortlisted for the TGO Book Awards 2017

Dark Peak Walks has been shortlisted for The Great Outdoors magazine book of the year award 2017
TGO Annual Awards 2017

Well this is great news. Dark Peak Walks, published by Cicerone Press has been shortlisted for The Great Outdoors magazine 2017 award in the book category.

You can vote in the awards here

Lost public houses of the Peak District

Many public houses on the old roads across the Peak District National Park have now long gone. Their remains can still be found if you know where and what to look for and have a bit of patience. The pubs were often associated with coach travel, packhorse routes, and as such were built near the roads and tracks, with large areas around for holding livestock. Stabling was provided for the horses and food and accommodation for the travellers.

The reason why the pubs gained their names is something of a debate and more often than not folklore. The Isle of Skye pub, which sat on the Isle of Skye road, the road getting its name from the pub and not vice versa, had nothing to do with travel to the Scottish Island and more to do with locals tales. It was said that workmen repairing the pub were sick and tired of the rain, nothing much changes you see in that area, and one of them remarked that he would be glad when they left as there is “a t’oil in’t sky” and from that it became the Isle of Skye. This may or may not be true.

One pub that made it on to the map was the Plough and Harrow on the Woodhead Road near Langsett. Originally the pub was sited in Langsett, or rather the sign was, the building it was attached to is now the Wagon and Horses. A local squire enclosed the land around Gallows Moss in 1812 and where the Woodhead road summits near to the new road across Gallows Moor he decided to build a new pub to catch the passing coach and packhorse trade.

This upset the owners of the Inn at Salterbrook, not more than a mile down the road towards Woodhead. At the opening of the new pub a fiddler from Woodhead village was employed to entertain the guests. The owners of Salterbrook ridiculed the new pub by telling everyone it was frequented by fiddlers and the name stuck.

The Plough and Harrow was prosperous for a while, then the arrival of the rail line across the Woodhead drew traffic away from the road and the building along with the Salterbrook fell in to decline. Today all that can be seen is some low stone walls and bits of rubble. The road across Gallows Moor replaced the old road that ran past Lady Cross and is now known as the A628 Woodhead Road which crosses Gallows Moss.

PB Walk 26 Dunford Bridge to Ramsden Clough

Birchinlee – Peak District

Remains of the railway trestle at Westend, Upper Derwent Valley, Peak District National Park
Remains of the railway trestle at Westend, Peak District National Park

Most people know of the two villages submerged beneath the Ladybower reservoir in the Peak District National Park. Derwent and the lesser know Ashopton villages have become synonymous with the Upper Derwent Valley. Few people realise that there was a third village in the valley, one with a greater population than the other two combined.

Birchinlee was sited on the west side of the valley between the Howden and Derwent dams. Most people now will walk or cycle through the village, perhaps take time to read the information board and maybe stare down into the remains of the pub cellar. Few will walk its streets running north south, the only evidence that something once existed here, is the raised platforms and occasional stone walling.

At its height over 900 people lived here. Schools, library, hospital, pub and homes all were built to house the workforce between 1902 and 1916. The buildings were made from corrugated iron, quick, cheap and sturdy, it is a material you can still find in old buildings today. The reason for the construction of Tin Town, as it became known, was in no small part to do with previous reservoir constructions over the hill in the Longdendale Valley.

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St James’s church Woodhead, Peak District National Park

It was common at the time for workers on the reservoir and dam construction to have to fend for themselves, this included finding accommodation.  When the Woodhead reservoirs were built, living quarters for the men and their families consisted of makeshift shelters constructed out of whatever the men could find, peat, wood, stone, and sited  on the moors above the valley. There was no sanitation, no running water and no provision for health or hygiene. It was not uncommon.

An outbreak of Cholera in the workforce of the Woodhead reservoirs killed many and to add insult to injury the dead were buried outside the grave yard of St James’s church at the village of Woodhead, having been deemed to be socially unsuitable to rest with those interred within the church grounds.

This and other such instances caused a public outcry and it started the move towards better working conditions for workers. Birchinlee village came about partly as a result of such tragedy.

The tragedy today is that very little remains of Tin Town. There are plenty of photographs but little physical evidence. At the end of the construction of the dams the village was dismantled and sold off for scrap. A few buildings did survive and became garden sheds and workshops. Pieces of history that found their way in to the everyday life of surrounding communities.

The only surviving building from Birchinlee, in the Upper Derwent Valley. Peak District National Park
The only surviving building from Birchinlee. Hope, Peak District National Park

If you turn off the main Hathersage to Castleton road at Hope, just opposite the church as though heading for Edale, on the right hand side of the road is a small white corrugated shed. Today it is a hair salon, sat on stone, with white corrugated iron walls and roof, wooden framework painted black and a large window that takes up most of the side facing the road. This is the last remaining building from Tin Town, an important piece of social and industrial history that is all but forgotten.