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



Following on from yesterdays images, I bring you Cowburn Tunnel on the Manchester to Sheffield railway line, it’s very scenic line (if you cut out the urban bits of Manchester and Sheffield that is) well worth a ride if you get the chance, you can even take the folk train, if that’s the sort of thing you fancy.

Now pay attention please, I need to point and wave my arms around for you to see what I’m talking about; the entrance to the tunnel in the lower third  of the image and the tunnels ventilation shaft is the black ‘cube’ sitting up on the moor near the skyline.

Cowburn Tunnel Derbyshire -1

What you can’t see from this vantage point is the railway line curving around the back of the hill in the foreground.

A little history of the ninth longest tunnel in the UK, it was an excavation of epic proportions.

The tunnel is 3,702 yards (3,385 m) long. It was built in 1891 by the Midland Railway, under Colborne (part of a 1,700 ft/518 m moorland between Kinder Scout and Rushup Edge). It takes the Hope Valley Line west out of Edale valley, to emerge near Chinley.

Unusually, the tunnel is not built at a constant gradient: in fact, the summit of the line between Dore and Chinley lies within the tunnel, about a quarter of the way from the eastern end. From the summit, the tunnel falls at 1 in 100 (1%) eastwards and 1 in 150 (0.67%) westwards. Nevertheless, when the headings met, they were no more than 1 inch (25.4 mm) out of line in the vertical direction, and met exactly in the horizontal direction. Only one vertical shaft was used. Although the workings were much drier than they had been for Totley Tunnel, on one occasion the headings filled with water to a depth of 90 ft (27.4 m) and work was carried on in a diving bell.*

Here is the line dashing  through the village of Chinley  ( it might be hard to believe but in 1596 there were ‘serious riots’ in Chinley all to do with the enclosure of the moorland).

Manchester- Sheffield railway line -1

Back home the boys have been helping me excavate an old ‘grindstone’ that had been set in some paving in a neglected corner of the garden  that’s now under a pile of builders rubble left behind after the house was reroofed. (Mr Uhdd plans to take a mini digger to the area in the not to distant future)

grindstone -1

There were times when the project looked like the out-takes from the Flintstones

grindstone 2-1

It did make me realise how handy, if hungry, teenagers can be.

grindstone 3-1

So what am I going to do with it now? Good question. Suggestions to-date, with teenage bias, I hasten to add.

  • Sun dial
  • Water feature
  • Base for ‘bird table’ (Pterodactyl size)
  • Extreme cheese rolling
  • Frisbee
  • Clay pigeon shooting (with RPG)

I can report Spud have a wonderfully muddy time throughout

grindstone 4-1


* we find the diving bell scenario a bit hard to believe….


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.

7 thoughts on “Excavations

  1. It might be an idea to get a date for the grindstone and, if possible, a maker’s name or at least its place of origin. There may be clues on the stone itself. You might turn up something of interest.

    Next time we do the Sheffield to Manchester run, we’ll watch for the tunnel. It’s always fun to know you are revisiting history.

  2. Good pictures and interesting history. What a treat. Perhaps you could use the grindstone as a resistance aid to training. Wimps use car tyres.

  3. I like your list of suggestions very much. I’m sure you’ll make a good choice!

  4. A fascinating, and informative, post. xx

  5. Good luck with your projects. And thanks for these breathtaking panoramas. And story about the railway and tunnel!

  6. Oh. Tunnels. I am not good with tunnels. I appreciate the engineering feat, truly I do. It’s just that . . . when I got to the diving bell part . . . I had to go lie down for a bit. If it’s all the same to you, I’d just as soon throw myself from the top of a ski run on a rainy Monday in May – in pursuit of a cheese? Do I have it right? Most unusual entertainments in Gloucestershire. Food for thought.

  7. Pingback: Spud on Sunday Part LXIXII | Uphilldowndale

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