Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

As Tough as Old Boots


Deep in the woods, above Fernilee Reservoir

deep in the woods-2

We found a plum tree,

 Plum tree-2

Which is a little unusual, this isn’t a fruit growing sort of area, Mr Uhdd thought it must have ‘escaped from a garden’, I was sceptical, but was I forgetting that this area was not always woodland it is now (it was once the home to a farming community, not to mention a paint mill, gunpowder works and a coal mine.)

Mr Uhdd was right,  as nearby were the remains of a cottage (now no more than a pile of moss covered rocks)  but even more interesting than that (and you know how interested I am, in piles of moss covered rocks) was the remains of what must have once been the cottages midden, its rubbish heap. It was an earth mound against a drystone wall, but a couple of yards of wall had recently collapsed, exposing the mound to the the wind and the rain, washing away the leaf litter and earth, exposing what remains. There were boots, rising up out of the ground;

Old  boots 2-2

lots of boots, including  hobnailed boots

Old  boots 4-2

The  Errwood estate that the owned and farmed this area, belonged to the Grimshaw family, the estate was broken up in the 1930’s allowing the reservoir to be built, this would have been one of many homes and farmsteads, that were demolished at the time (to avoid the risk of pollution to reservoir which was built to provide drinking water to the town of Stockport, as it does to this day.)

Old  boots 3-2

There was also a lot of broken glass and crockery, other curious souls had lined the bits and pieces up along the top of the wall, Spud thought it was wonderful and  was in and amongst it before we could grab him by the scruff,

Old boots-2

charging around like a sniffer dog, we feared for his paws! As far as spud is concerned, boots ripen like Cheddar cheese and  fine wine, the older the better and he grabbed what he considered to be a tasty piece, which we removed and returned from whence it came.

Old  boots 1-2

But why so many boots? Surely the working man, from the 1930’s or earlier, would have been lucky to have owned more than one pair of boots (maybe a best pair for church on Sunday?) My theory is that they would have been chucked on the midden as the family left their home and that is why they are at the top: the move forcing a ‘good clear out’; maybe the family had been blessed with strapping young lads and they are their old work boots? Who knows?

(It’s looks like these boots were discarded, although boots (along with cats) are sometimes found concealed within old houses)



Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

15 thoughts on “As Tough as Old Boots

  1. I’m in love with Spud. I suppose that goes without saying, but when have I ever let that stop me???

    In these precincts the ritual objects most often interred in houses would be hammers and screwdrivers dropped by accident into the foundations or the walls. Or, in the case of my house, eyeglasses and car keys.

  2. Fascinating! I bet you were indeed in your element finding such a mystery near moss covered rocks. What a great discovery. It does make you wonder what the place looked like years ago, when the farm was a going concern. Interesting how the plum tree still exists. When I read the title, and saw the first photo, I thought you had found such an old plum tree that the plums were tough as old boots! Did you pick and taste a plum?

  3. No old feet inside those old boots, I hope…

  4. What an interesting, and informative, post! xx

  5. What a magical treasure trove to stumble across! Especially if you are a young pup, all those wonderful smells. As usual your photography really reflects the feeling of the place, the shadows of mystery, the brightness of emerging from the earth.

    I love finding old fruit trees, its like a little gem hidden in the woods.

  6. Lovely post, one of your best. We used to like walking round the ruins of Errwood Hall, imagining what used to go on between the stumps of walls that remain. It was all cleared to accommodate the reservoir but at least North West Water have also accommodated the visitors and walkers. More people enjoy the land now than ever did when the hall was standing. Likewise, three cheers for the National Trust!

  7. What a fantastic blog – such lovely pictures (I’m envious – both of the locations and the skill involved in taking them!) and as for Spud, well, he’s gorgeous!!!

    I found this site through Inspector Gadget’s blog, and I’m glad I did! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  8. I am loving those boots and wanting to come there and explore your fields and all around the old estate. Must have felt like you had quite the treasure-find! Boots ripen like cheddar cheese and old wine…that’s so funny!

  9. Spud’s Blog – love him – more pics please!

  10. You know, I keep trying to take a photo, like the first one, but they always seem to contain “nothing”. I can’t get the woods to “be the image”.. If you understand what I’m trying to say. Anyway, will you tell me how you took it?

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