The Derwent Reservoirs

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The original plan for the Derwent Valley Water Board Reservoirs

Here is what the Upper Derwent and Woodlands Valley should have looked like. Originally there were set to be five reservoirs, Howden, Derwent, Bamford, Ashopton and Hagglee, each with a dam spanning the relevant valley.

The first two, Howden and Derwent were constructed at the turn of last century. The Derwent Valley Water Board also had the rights to the water in the Woodlands valley and developed plans to construct three huge reservoirs stretching up the Woodlands valley, consuming the Snake Road and most of the farms and Hamlets on either side.

The major problem with the plan was the Snake Road, one of only two trans Pennine routes, the other being the Woodhead Road. Re-routing the Snake was a major construction project with huge cost implications. To reduce the cost an alternative proposal was put forward. If you have to move the road, why not just construct one enormous dam spanning the Derwent Valley at Bamford and rising to the top of Bamford Edge and across to Win Hill. Both the Derwent and Howden dams would have been consumed  beneath the waters.

Eventually, cost and the inter war years moved the focus on to a third reservoir, Ladybower, stretching from Yorkshire Bridge up to Fairholmes, flooding the villages of Derwent and Ashopton.

Of course if one huge dam had been built there may not have been the Dambusters raid in Germany, no Four Inns walk and the start of Peak District Mountain Rescue, no Upper Derwent Valley.

So there you have it, that’s why the Upper Derwent looks like it does today.

 

 

Autumn

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The East Track approaching Derwent Dam, Peak District

The September Equinox and Solstice will soon be upon us, my favourite time of year. The photo is of the East Track along Derwent Reservoir in the Upper Derwent Valley last year. Nature put on a wonderful display before its winter slumber.

I am often to be found in woods in autumn, especially beech and oak. I like the smell as the trees release their fragrance out into the air, earthy and rich in truth. After a dry summer the woodland floor will be dry, the leaves creating deep carpets of orange and gold, the colours of the earth starting to rest.

It has already started to get dark earlier now, 7:30pm and the sun is going down. A well-timed walk in late afternoon rewards with deepening shadows as the sun heads for the horizon a blazing golden ball, so bright nothing else can be discerned. It is a wonderful spectacle.

Out in the Peak District you can find ancient woodlands, woods of oak and beech, intermingled with the gritstone, warmed by the autumn sun. Some of the woodland is hundreds of years old, some a mere few decades.

Back in 2014 I helped school children plant a new wood in the Woodlands Valley. Two thousand native beech trees, planted by the hand of a future generation. When they reach my age they can take their grandchildren into the wood they planted and sit and watch the autumn sun setting and the shadows stretching out towards them. Now isn’t that something.