Uphilldowndale

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


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At a crossroad

I’m still here, not that you would think so, from the lack of posts.

I’ve been busy putting a project to bed, its nearly done now, I’ve only a couple of days work left to do. What next, I don’t know,  I suppose you could say I’m at a small career crossroad .

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This extravagance of signage for a modest little junction, is at Wetton Mill in the Manifold Valley

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Float your boat

You can’t leave canals out of the history of  the Ironbridge Gorge, for transporting all those delicate and valuable china goods, to hauling the coal to fire the kilns, it was by far the best option, the only other way was pack horses on unmade roads.

Brick bottle kiln coalport

The canal at Coalport was frozen over in part, on the day we visited, the ducks waddled along as best they could, occasionally falling through the ice, or swimming along in the style of an ice breaker

Now I may be the ‘creative’ of the household, but I know cracking engineering  solution when I see it. This is the Hay inclined plane, we have few of those nearer to home, but none as impressive as this, ours were used for hauling trucks full of limestone or coal to or from the canals, here they simply moved the whole boat.

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The Hay Inclined Plane is a canal inclined plane with a height of 207 feet that is located on a short stretch of the Shropshire Canal that linked the industrial area of Blists Hill with the River Severn. The inclined plane was in operation from 1792 to 1894 and can be visited as part of the Blists Hill Victorian Town and is also a waypoint on the South Telford Heritage Trail. In operation box-shaped tub boats 20 feet long were taken up and down the plane on twin railway tracks, an empty boat would be loaded into the river at the bottom and a full boat would be loaded into the canal at the top, a rope would connect the two so that gravity would drop the loaded boat down to the river counterbalanced by an empty boat being raised to the canal. At the bottom of the incline the rails went underwater allowing the boats to float free.

I participially like the wiggle in the rails

Inclined Plane 3

 


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Ironbridge

More of our travels,  this time Ironbridge in Shropshire, somewhere that has been on our ‘one day we’ll go to…’ list for a long long time. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site 

If Soho House and the Lunar Society was where the formative minds of the industrial revolution came together, this is where the base materials and skills became more than the sum of their parts

Opened in 1781, it was the first major bridge in the world to be made of cast iron, and was greatly celebrated after construction owing to its use of the new material.

Iron Bridge

We didn’t realise the bridge had been swathed in scaffold and plastic for some considerable time,  whilst it had been renovated, it had been recently unwrapped, we overheard some of the locals saying they didn’t like its ‘new’ colour (which is actually the historically correct, original colour)  I like the colour because it reminded me of my dad, he used to paint anything that didn’t move with ‘red oxide paint’ (OK, so occasionally  he made an exception and got out a pot of ‘battleship grey’, but that was the full colour spectrum of his paint stock.)

Iron Bridge red

The Ironbridge Gorge provided the raw materials that revolutionised industrial processes and offers a powerful insight into the origins of the Industrial Revolution and also contains extensive evidence and remains of that period when the area was the focus of international attention from artists, engineers, and writers. The property contains substantial remains of mines, pit mounds, spoil heaps, foundries, factories, workshops, warehouses, iron masters’ and workers’ housing, public buildings, infrastructure, and transport systems, together with the traditional landscape and forests of the Severn Gorge. In addition, there also remain extensive collections of artifacts and archives relating to the individuals, processes and products that made the area so important.

Iron Bridge tolls

Ironbridge has ten museums, we managed three in a day, but we have a season ticket to return at our leisure.

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If you are visiting Ironbridge, we feel we should give a shout out to the hospitality of The White Hart

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Weather Window

Last week we took a couple of nights away, in the Lake District. It’s hard to believe looking at the weather today.

We’ve got the campervan geared up for cold weather, it has a very effective diesel heater and we’d chosen a site with a hook up for power. The Quiet Site,  was perfect for our needs, one of those neatly run sites that keeps everything running smoothly with out being too officious about it and a very toasty shower block was always going to win me over. 

Another bonus was that the site bar was open, being ‘out of season’ we weren’t expecting that . Winter campervanning can be snug and cosy, but it does get a bit tomb like, so a nice beer in front of a roaring fire, just a few yards from the van was as welcome as it was sociable.

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Mr Uphilldowndale entertained himself with a bike ride up The Struggle and over Kirkstone Pass the highest major road in the Lake district,  I mooched  around with the camera; we were equally content.

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Ullswater

We both took a stroll by lake Windermere,  having visited the wonderful Blackwell House,  I’ll post about it.

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Windermere

Did you know  that lake Windermere had not one but two very early airfields?

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The The start of seaplane flying in Britain can be traced to Lake Windermere, where H. Stanley Adams first became airborne in the Lakes Waterbird floatplane on 25 November 1911.

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One man and his dog, Windermere


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Two for the price of one, part one.

A potpourri of posts, about our adventures and experiences of the last few months whilst I’ve  been a lax blogger. 

August. Two galleries in one weekend.  First stop the Harley Gallery,  at Welbeck.  Welbeck and the Portland collection was somewhere  completely off my radar until I stumbled upon a workshop by the very gifted Mrs Bertimus, which was hosted in studios of Hope and Elvis, part of the creative complex of studios in the grounds of Wellbeck.

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I came home to tell Mr Uphilldowndale all about it; so we decided to visit.

As well as the collection and the gallery, with it’s changing exhibitions.

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The neatly landscaped gallery had some interesting fruit trees, this is I’m told a medlar, I’d not heard of  them before, maybe that is no surprise

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and a golden pear.

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There is a farm shop too, oh my, meat out of the league of the average supermarket.

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We pitched our van on the Welbeck campsite, it was quite, we were the only visitors.


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The Road North

Thirty Days Wild, a post each day throughout June, something that is grounded in our wild world.

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I’m up for this, I’ve done it before, I’ve a bit of a cop out on the delivery though this year.  Mr Uphilldowndale and I are on the road, with Spud the dog of course. We’re taking a three week tour in the campervan, a week visiting  the Orkney Islands, and driving the North Coast 500 route around the northern coast of Scotland. Daily delivery of posts may not be possible,  there are so many variables, when I find an Internet connection, expect a flurry of posts. Posts will not be exclusively ‘wild’  as there is so much to share, but nature will be here in all its glory.

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Post box, Isle of Sanday

First of all how did we get here? It’s a long drive from Derbyshire (over 500m),  we waved as we tootled along past Tootlepedal’s patch, and broke our journey by calling to see the magnificent  Kelpie sculptures at Falkirk, I’d wanted to see them ever since I saw the video of their construction. I was not disappointed.

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How skilful to get such shape and tone to the muscle structure out of sheets of metal.

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Mr Uphilldowndale wanted to know the nuts and bolts of their construction

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The Kelpies were having a little grooming

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We then went on to call, unannounced, on M and J in Kincardine,  M used to work with me in my ‘wee flower shop’, in Alloa, some 26 years ago, we had not seen them since then. We had a lovely evening with them, and camped out on their drive for the night, their kindness and generosity was just as I remembered. A wonderful start to our adventure

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As we travelled north we were struck by the gorse, it was prolific

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and its vivid colour and perfume,  sweet with notes of coconut, swept along with us.

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Kew Palace

We’ve been to London, not see the Queen, but to see family, and whilst we were there we did two things, we went to the National Archives, to take a look at the war diaries of the time my father spent in Burma, during WWII  with the 864 ME  Coy Royal Engineers.  It was an emotional experience.  And deserves a blog post of its own. I need a little time to bring my thoughts together first though. 

Afterwards, to decompress, we went to Kew Botanical Gardens, a favourite place.

We’d not been to Kew Palace before (which stands within the gardens) its a gem of building. Imbued with history, its been a home to the Royal family as far back as 1729.

Kew Palace

But what we liked about its that for the best part of two centuries it stood empty,  which meant many things were left unchanged, it escaped the passing fashions of the time.

I thought the soft light and the colour of the clerks of the kitchen’s office rather special. 

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The dinning room  is set for the first meal King George was allowed to eat with a knife, as he recuperated from a period ‘of madness’ at Kew

In 1788 the whole nation was thrown into turmoil as the King was declared ‘mad’ after the onset of a mysterious illness, probably porphyria. This is a hereditary blood disorder that can cause temporary mental derangement.

Roast rabbit was on the menu, I think you might wish to take a knife to it!

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They were not the only delicacies…

Kew Palace dinner

The top floor of the building is unrestored,  we liked seeing the way the building was put together,

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I’m always drawn to a little sparkle though

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The room guides were as imbued with the history as the building itself.  We’d have missed the detail and craftsmanship of this  original window, were it not for the guide

Kew Palace window

And who knew the Royal Palaces have a sash window expert that maintain these troublesome devices so they can be lifted with a finger.