Wordless Wednesday…..Another Favourite Place

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Location:-  Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island, Northumberland

22nd May

(C) David Oakes 2019

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A Walk through an Industrial Heritage

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

21st May

(C) David Oakes 2019

A Waterways Walk…

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Shardlow Locks on the Trent & Mersey Canal, Derbyshire

A walk along one of England’s canals is to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors.   Today we walked a length of the Trent & Mersey Canal.  In its time is was just as an important transport links as any of todays Motorways or Railways.  Built in 1777 by the engineer James Brindley the canal was constructed to link the River Trent in the Midlands to the Bridgewater Canal and ultimately Liverpool in the North West.  Passing from the Industrial Midlands , past the Brewing capital and on through the Potteries, carrying everything from Lace and Silk, to Engineering fittings, to Beer and Pottery, plus of course Agricultural crops, Coal and minerals and Timber. Likewise the return journey carried raw materials and other imports from across the world.  Walk along side the Canal here at Shardlow and you can see signs of this past activity. Large buildings, once warehouses now either luxury waterside houses or multi storey apartments. You still have some canal side workshops and of course the occasional Inn.

Canals arrived and with them the start of the real industrial revolution.

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 In many ways, and reflecting on todays environmental issues, the canal transport system was perhaps the most environmentally friendly bulk transport system. For a great many years the barges that carried the goods were horse drawn (hence the name for the pathways that run alongside a canal – a Tow Path). Progress in the form of the Railways soon reduced the value of the Canal network. Despite that canals still carried cargo up to and through the WW2.
Today the Trent & Mersey is a waterway for recreational traffic

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16th May

(C) David Oakes 2019