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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

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