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Monday, 27 February 2012

Derwent & Howden Dams

This week we decided to go and have a walk around the North Derbyshire reservoirs to see how full they are.
We set off at about 6:40 and arrived at a parking area just a hundred metres away from the Fairholmes visitor centre, unusually we were not the first ones to park up, there were 5 cars already in residence. Its just a short walk up to the Derwent Dam which is at the south end of Derwent reservoir. These reservoirs The Howden, The Derwent and Ladybower all supply water to most of Derbyshire and parts of South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

Derwent Dam
 The construction of the dams was started in 1901 and finished in 1912. The huge blocks of stone were transported from Bole Hill quarry near Grindleford on a specially created 7 mile long standard gauge railway. After providing a million tons of stone the quarry was closed in 1914 with the railway shortly after. To accommodate the army of workers a small temporary town was built. With workers and families the town grew to a population of almost 1000. Most of the buildings were constructed using corrugated metal sheets and hence it became known as TINTOWN. Its proper name was Birchinlee and it had everything a normal town has, a cinema, canteen, post office, hairdressers, school and a pub. Unfortunately some workers died during the construction and they were buried in the churchyard at nearby Bamford.
West Tower of the Derwent Dam
 The dams were used by the RAF in 1943 where 617 squadron (The Dambusters) practised there low level flying and bombing techniques they used on the Ruhr dams in Germany. There is a small museum dedicated to the 617 Squadron in the west tower of the Derwent Dam.

We walked past the Derwent Dam which houses the 617 Squadron Museum and just a few metres away we saw this memorial to Pip the sheepdog.

Memorial to Pip the sheepdog
Tip and his 81 year old master Joseph Tagg went out walking on Howden Moors but were reported missing in December 1953. It was 15 weeks later after the worst of the winter when they were found and Tip was miraculously still alive lying next to his master. 
We carried on and eventually spotted Howden Dam in the distance. We passed a couple of notice boards giving information about Birchinlee (Tintown) then we left the footpath and went down to the reservoir edge and followed the bank around to the dam. .

Derwent reservoir

Derwent reservoir

Howden Dam in the distance

Geoff looking at the notice board for the Birchinlee "Canteen"

Rob & Ike reading about Birchinlee
We had a couple of obstacles one of which was a small brook. Brother Rob decided it wasn’t that small and ran at it and tried to jump it, big mistake. Unfortunately I only had time to snap the after event, he got his feet wet and dented pride
Brother Rob in the ditch

Rob photographing Howden Dam

Howden Dam 

Rob in front of the Dam wall
Me at the Howden Dam
Me at the Dam
Great spot for breakfast, but very noisy
The water was pouring over the dam wall and what the photo’s don’t give is the deafening sound of falling water, awesome.
Ike snapping away

Rob snapping the West Tower

Rob in front of the dam wall, gives a bit of scale

West Tower Howden Dam

West Tower Howden Dam

Top of Howden Dam

Water pouring over Howden Dam with a deafening roar.
We had our breakfast here, did a few more pics then it was back down the road to the car. We walked about a mile and spotted this guy on this “Ski” type form of transport, it looked good and he was going at a fair rate. Shortly after that we caught the Sunday Dam bus and got back to the car.

Off the bus and head for the car.
A cracking morning having walked about 5 miles and although the light was poor at least it wasn’t cold.
See you next week

Monday, 20 February 2012

Cromford canal part 2

One of our party had to get back early to go to a surprise birthday party at lunch time, so we thought we would do a bit more along the Cromford canal, starting from where we left off last week. This 6 mile stretch of the canal between Cromford and Ambergate has been given the status, Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.
We parked opposite the historic John Smedley Mill factory in Lea Bridge and walked down to the canal. The footpath led us to where the Wigwell aqueduct meets the Lengthmans cottage.
North end of the Leawood tunnel
Wigwell Aqueduct with the Leawood pumphouse on the right.
Wigwell Aqueduct last week - what a difference.
There were Pen and Cob swans "twitterpating" in the basin at the start of the Wigwell aqueduct, and the courtship display was amazing to watch.
Cromford Wharf shed with the swans in the foreground.
Rob taking a pic of the  swans in front of the Wharf shed.
From the aqueduct we walked along the old track bed, where we had to negotiate a large fallen tree.
Rob being eaten by a tree
Nice crisp morning
Geoff photographing the railway bridge over the river Derwent.
We passed an old structure which Geoff recognised as the roof of an old railway building which he had photographed in 1963. We had to cross the river at this point and got a few nice railway track shots.
South end of the Leawood tunnel
The footbridge and cast iron aqueduct over the railway track
Ike at an old railway hut.
Ike helping Geoff onto the footpath.
Footpath, aqueduct and south end of the Leawood tunnel
 This cast iron aqueduct over the railway track is where we turned back last week. We walked a bit further south towards the Gregory tunnel where the canal goes through the hillside.
Footpath & cast iron aqueduct.
Newly erected bat boxes
Lovely stretch of the canal with these reflections of the trees.
Rob over an outflow.
This is the76 yards long Gregory tunnel
 from the Gregory tunnel we climbed over the canal and up the footpath towards Lea Hurst.
The boys getting stuck in a deer gate.
 We stopped for breakfast in the shadow of Lea Hurst. This was the family home of the Nightingales where Florence Nightingale spent her summers. She nursed her mother there in the 1880's. For many years the house was a Royal Surgical Aid Society rest home and is now a private residential house.
Breakfast with Lea Hurst in the background.
There were a few roe deer just grazing across the other side of the field, so i had a go at "stalking" them, didn't get to close, but got a couple of decent snaps.

Its OK its only Jim with that bloody camera!!
Rob trying his luck with the deer.
Lea Hurst - The summer retreat for Florence Nightingale.
The historic John Smedley Mill site.
John Smedley and his partner Peter Nightingale set up his spinning mill in 1784 in the village. The brook that runs through the village provided all the power needed for his factory.
This has been a lovely crisp morning for a very pleasant walk along the Cromford canal.
The sun is rising a lot earlier now so the alarm clock will be getting changed for next week.
Cheers for now.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Cromford Canal & High Peak Junction

With the snow still on the ground we thought a another local walk was on the cards. We were back up to full strength with Geoff having a day off last week (for good behaviour). We decided on Cromford canal which is only 15 minutes away up the A6.
Wharf buildings at the terminus of Cromford Canal
When we arrived about 8:00 there were no other cars in the car park and we had the place to ourselves. Part of the canal at the Wharf end was still frozen over.
It took an act of parliament in 1789 to get the money in place to build the Cromford Canal. The canal was over 23 km from Cromford to the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill with 14 locks to balance the water levels.
 Alongside the canal we saw these wooden marking posts with numbers on, but just couldn't work out what they were. Later on Geoff spoke to a countryside warden and he told us they were just zone markers, and were just so any work done on the canal could be logged down for a particular area.
Geoff looking at one of the strange markers.

The Warehouse 
There were one or two people about by this time and Rob & Ike just had to stand aside and let these 2 past, they did watch them for a while!!
There's loads of wildlife along here including the Little Grebe and Coot pictured below. We saw a water vole, but that was to quick to get a snap.
Little Grebe

We got to The High Peak Junction and had breakfast there. This is the site of the workshops for the Cromford & High Peak Railway and was built between 1826 and 1830 making it the 2nd oldest railway workshop in the world. The railway ran from Cromford Canal to the Peak Forest Canal in Whaley Bridge. There was also Sheep Pasture Incline which ran to Black Rocks on the hillside above.
Breakfast stop

Would you buy a used car from any of these?
 While we were having breakfast there was a lot of activity on the water with this duck fight going on for some time.
Duck fight.
High Peak Junction with the start of the Sheep Pasture Incline  through the arch.
we packed away and continued onto the Wharf Shed. This is where the railway line and canal came together for the transfer of materials.
The Wharf Shed built in 1850 to replace an earlier building.
The Leawood Pumphouse from the Wharf Shed

Wharf Shed
From the Wharf Shed we walked over the 1790 Wigwell aqueduct, with The Lengthmans Cottage at the far end. The Wigwell Aqueduct is 183 metres long and 9 metres high with three supporting arches. The engineer William Jessop  supervised the construction in 1790, but a serious fault developed and he blamed the lime in the mortar which he had obtained from Crich. He rebuilt the structure to his own expense in 1793.
Wigwell Aqueduct

The Wigwell Aqueduct with the Leawood Pumphouse chimney  on the right.

Footbridge with The Lengthmans Cottage behind it.

Rob Ike & Geoff
We walked a little further to the aqueduct over the railway main line where we met a couple of photographers looking for birds along the canal.
The derby to Matlock train
From here we turned back and set off for to the car park.
Flock of noisy geese flew overhead.
This accommodation bridge was built around 1792 and rope marks from the horse drawn barges can still be seen
The total walk was about 4 miles and was a nice pleasant morning out.
See you next week