Communications Hub

We took the camper van out to stretch it’s legs, just a one nighter, not far, just a 30 minute drive into the White Peak, pretty much my old commute in days gone by. We’d made some repairs and alterations to the van since our last ‘big trip’ to Scotland in May, and we wanted to check things worked as intended, the leaky tap is no more, and the new fridge, has a TARDIS like capacity, it’s smaller than the old fridge and yet it can accommodate a four pint bottle of milk AND a bottle of wine in an upright position, no more fridge wrangling! Result.

And if that wasn’t enough van excitement, Mr Uphilldowndale used space gained by the smaller fridge to build a cutlery drawer. ‘Tis a thing of beauty, I’d share a video of me opening and closing it in sheer delight, if I’d fully mastered uploading videos on to this WordPress editor.

We visited the lovely village of Monyash had a delicious and leisurely brunch at The Old Smithy Cafe, a favourite coffee stop of Mr UHDD on his Sunday bike rides, we shared our table and travel tales with a motorbiking couple from the Midlands, before striking out to Chatsworth.

The village can attribute its existence, and its name, to water. Lying underneath the centre of the village is a narrow band of clay deposited during the Ice Age. This resulted in pools of standing water, a highly unusual feature in a limestone area. Over time meres (ponds) were fashioned into the clay by the villagers to provide a constant source of water. At one time the village had five meres and at least twenty wells providing the inhabitants and their livestock, as well as passing drovers, with a plentiful supply of water right up until recent times.

The centre of the village is always where the gossip is, here the now superseded phone box has been repurposed as a mini library, the post box still functions, but you won’t get as many collections these days. (At least this one hasn’t been stolen.) But it is still a place to stop for a chat.

Monyash Derbyshire

Through the stile into the small enclosure is a clue to how this spot must have been a meeting place for hundreds of years, with what we took to be a capped well

I rather liked the view back onto the village green, and much admired the worn stile, which would have kept the local livestock out of the village water source.

We take turning on the tap for fresh water so much for granted. Getting water, must have consumed so much time and energy, especially in this part of the Peak District, where the porous limestone gobbles up rivers and streams. I really shouldn’t complain about a leaky tap.

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.

Inclined Plane_

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


Gale Mill

Dark and Satanic*, or Warm and Welcoming?

I can’t quite make my mind up. This is  the wonderfully restored and  preserved, Gale Mill in the Yorkshire Dales;  it was late  afternoon in November  and the light was fading.

Gayle Mill 2

There had been heavy rain the day before, and the river was thundering by.  The roads were awash.

Rivers were not to be messed with.


And then there was the snow, we’d chosen quite a high route to get to Gale and Hawes, but traveling in the campervan, we decided discretion was the better part of valour, turned around and took the low route instead!


In the end the snow didn’t become a problem, but the local highways department were in a state of preparedness…

Gayle 2

I was glad we were in the campervan and not camping!

Not camping_

I’m also glad we spent money on  a diesel heater for the van,  rather than spending the money on a van in any other colour than white, which comes at a premium. We were snug as bugs.

snow van 2

* Dark and satanic mills, might not be what I always thought they were!

Thirty days wild. 12th June

TWT 30 Days Wild_countdown_12


The best thing that you can do for nature is too make it part of your life. That’s why we’re asking thousands of people to make room for nature in their everyday lives this June. Please spread the word amongst friends, colleagues and family and get them to sign up, too! After all, all our lives are better if they’re a bit wild… ‘

I’ve signed up to 30 Days Wild with the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust,  with the aim of blogging each day, a little bit of the nature of my world.


I’ve got some catching up to do.  We’ve been away, to the Lake District, what we didn’t know when we booked, back in March, the reason the choice of accommodation was limited was the fact that  ten thousand swimmers were also going to be in Ambleside this weekend, for The Great North Swim, so much for a quiet weekend away.

It seems fitting therefore to have a fishy  wildlife observation.

Can you see it?


Once you had ‘got your eye in’ there many to be seen, trout I presume (I know its not a stickleback!)  I’ve cropped and tweaked the colours here, to help,

trout 2

there is something so sparklingly fresh and healthy about these fish.There were lots of too, in Stock Beck, by Bridge House


Spud on Sunday Part LXXVIII

Spud is pretty laidback  about the Queens Diamond Jubilee

Spud Jubilee -1

Actually, this has been the only way we could get him to pose for this Diamond Jubilee post; the silk handkerchief  is rather special and dates back to the coronation if not earlier. I’d had in mind a shot of Spud sat on the sofa, watching the splendid (but wet) Royal Pageant on the Thames. It was not to be, he got far too giddy and emotional*… as did others.

(It was the  sight of  the ‘War Horse Puppet’ on top of the National Theatre that did it, what is it about War Horse that gets me sooooo emotional,  I refused to go and see it at the cinema as just the synopsis made me weep,  so Mr Uphilldowndale ordered the video to watch in the privacy of home, and the sight of the video case chokes me up! Pass the tissues… viewing is scheduled for tomorrow evening.

The Reluctant Sailor

Spud the dog is liberated from the kennels, I’m back at work and should be back at my studies, but I’m easily distracted. I suppose eventually this blog will return to its Derbyshire roots, but in the mean time I’ve a camera load of photos of Suffolk to serve up,  sort of a second helping of summer.

Lonely Lobster-1

It’s been mentioned here before,  that I’m a land lubber at heart, so my men folk left me ashore whilst they went to play on a friends boat, sailing down the river Deben, around Felixstowe before mooring up in the marina in the centre of Ipswich; where I joined them for the night.  I’d never visited the area before, but we’d called on Mrs Ogg and the Oglets on the way, for a yummy lunch and she’d tipped me off where to go a take a look.

The lobster above I found in Aldeburgh along with some handsome hungry  gulls


Gull x 4-1

Gull x 1-1

Smooth Sailing

Dappled light-1

Just out of interest, how deep is the canal?

Asked Fee in the previous post: not very, is the answer, when Joe took his dip he could touch the bottom, but said (having lost his Crocs) ‘It was gross, mud, hundreds of years old mud, I wasn’t putting my feet in that!’

Mill and canal-1

We weren’t overly concerned about the boys (or Spud) falling in (I’m the least competent swimmer in the family) except for the risk of them getting crushed between boat and bank and the inherent danger around the locks, with lock gates, paddles and strong currents to worry about, along with being aware of the small, but very real risk of Weil’s disease the quote below is from last weeks press.

Weil’s disease, believed to have caused the death this week of Olympic gold medal-winning rower Andy Holmes, is the acute human form of a bacterial infection with a raft of different names: mud fever, swamp fever, haemorrhagic jaundice, swineherd’s disease, sewerman’s flu. All are known as Leptospirosis, mild cases of which affect millions of people every year worldwide.

Canal Bridge 2-1

There are some beautiful bridges on the Leeds-Liverpool canal, the white bar on the painted arch is where you should aim your boat, it indicates the deepest point of the canal, not necessarily the centre; many of the bridges are on bends in the canal, it’s important to get the line of approach right.

Bridge 161 the double arch bridge at East Marton is  an especially elegant solution to an engineering problem.

double bridge arch bridge 161-1

It looks like the original bridge wasn’t high enough, when the road was improved, so they built another arch on top and more recently it has been widened further.

Bridge 160 Leeds Liverpool Canal-1

Are the Fish Fresh?

They won’t be, unless I get on and post about them, as  promised.

So back to Bakewell (and I have been, this very day,  back to a rendezvous in a car park, to hand back all the goodies I borrowed.)

For fine fish you need a splash or two of water, quality water.

The river Wye

The River Wye rises on Axe Edge above Buxton and flows in a south easterly direction through Buxton and Bakewell to join the Derwent at Rowsley, 15 miles later.

Perhaps one of Derbyshire’s prettiest and better known rivers because of it’s limestone uplands and superb dales and on account of Buxton, Bakewell and Haddon Hall, all popular with visitors.

The river disappears underground soon after its source and re-emerges in Poole’s Cavern to flow down into the town centre of Buxton via Pavilion Gardens, though their is little to see of the river, still only a stream in Buxton, as when the 5th Duke of Devonshire built The Crescent between 1780 and 1784 he culverted the river to pass beneath the building, and more recently it has been culverted again to pass beneath the Spring Gardens shopping centre. Below Buxton it starts to grow into a sizeable river running through a series of gorges, often deep and narrow, tree lined in places as in Ashwood Dale, with steep cliffs raring up from the sides of the valley as in Cheedale.

The fish, are they trout?

fine fish-2

Hang around under the bridge in the centre of Bakewell 

a very fine fish-2

As it offers rich pickings from the visitors and locals who feed them,

fish spaspash-2

It’s a bit of a free for all when food is in the offing though,

free for all-2

I can report, the fish were faster than the birds

chocolate dipper-2


Meet You Half Way

Said the man, which theoretically would have been in Matlock. But he drives faster than I, so we met in the Derbyshire market town of Bakewell instead.

Business attended to (I must stop meeting men in car parks and exchanging packages, it does nothing for a girls reputation.) I took the opportunity to find a little blog fodder, with a stroll down by the river Wye.

River Wye Bakewell-2

The birds were obliging of observers, a goose gandered

Goose at weir -2 

A stoical coot sat on its nest mid stream.

cute coot-2

A duck preened

preening duck-2

And the swan maintained its air of superiority.

superior swan-2

The birds in Bakewell are canny, and know how to work a crowd of tourists, tomorrow we’ll have a look at feeding time.

Lathkill Dale and Mandale Mine Pump House

It has been a beautiful sunny day, Tom has been away with School on a dry run for his Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, his party didn’t get lost but Tom lost his voice. (I’m sure they were impeccably behaved, but I’m not sure I would have wanted to share a camp site last night with 90 teenagers.)

Mr Uhdd has been to Wales, to run up and down Snowdon. Now all are safely home again.

Here is a little more from our amble in Lathkill Dale, a pleasing platter of buildings

Lathkill Dale Buildings 1-2

A cascade of old fish ponds

Terrace of fish ponds-2

The  remains of the engine house to the Mandale Lead mine

Mandale Mine-2

As it once was,

Mandale engine house-2

Just off of the main permissive footpath through Lathkill Dale are the impressive remains of the Mandale Mine pump house – once powered by one of the largest waterwheels known to have been used in mining history.

Mandale Mine is one of the oldest Lead Mines in Derbyshire.

Ha ha, ‘permissive footpath’ our theory in the previous post is now confirmed!

Mr Uhdd downloaded some bird song to his mobile, my phone is far to dated to cope with such wonders. What  I wonder would the  lead miners from the 13thC make of such a thing?

Bird tweets-2

and some more, luscious, spring greens.