Friday, 15 March 2013

Taddington Travelogue

And so to Taddington, a Derbyshire village tucked away 1,100 feet above sea level, that could look charming if it made the effort. 

It grew around farming and quarrying for limestone and lead. From 1863 to 1967 the village was served by Millers Dale railway station, some two miles away, which was on the Midland Railway's extension of the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock and Midlands Junction Railway.

Its main attractions are Five Wells, a chambered tomb topped by a cairn, and the 14th-century church, with the remains of a 7th-century Celtic cross in the churchyard. We didn’t bother.

Notable local buildings include Taddington Manor and Marlborough House. Fields around the settlement show evidence of both Celtic lynchett terraces and of Mediaeval strip farming. Kinky.

What first greeted the Wednesday Wanderers, however, was a pair of skinny, tights-wearing legs sticking out from the wall of the Queens Arms meeting point, like some undernourished burglar making his escape through a ventilation shaft.

I think the members of the Tidy Village committee should have a word.


We set off at 9.47am, turning right coming from the pub car park and walking up the main road.
After 120 yards we turned right onto a footpath across some fields, climbed a wall and turned right again.

This brought us to the A6 which we crossed and went straight on. At a crossroads of tracks we went straight on again, over a stile and down a steep embankment which Mr Davison described as a “dip” but which, if snowed over, would have tested Franz Klammer.

We went through a gate and onto a track where we turned left. After 50 yards we went right, climbed a wall and found ourselves facing an ice covered pond.

The opportunity to revisit Mr Davison’s Jesus impression was too good to miss.

It was a year or so back when the Wanderers’ answer to Evel Knievel tried to walk on ice on the canal near Marple golf club, Stockport and ended up soaked.

Although egged on, here, he was a bit more circumspect and after an ominous cracking noise retraced his steps immediately. What a wuss.

I think Dynamo can sleep easily.

Mr Davison walks on water…for a second or two.

We negotiated a wall and were afforded a wonderful view of a valley. Cressbrook Hall was away on our right.

We walked along a limestone wall which Mr Rooney described as “Chasing the Devil” because we were actually following a lead mine’s “vein”.

This was Millers Dale, a popular beauty spot in the Peak District of England, much of the area being preserved as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

 Millers Dale

Nearby is Ravenstor and Cheedale, both popular with rock-climbers. Just to the north of the Dale lies the village of Wormhill and the lesser known valleys of Peter Dale and Monk's Dale.

The local landmark is the viaduct, first built by the Midland Railway in 1866. Increasing traffic meant that a second viaduct parallel to the first was built in 1905, increasing the number of tracks to four.

The area is of great interest to geologists, particularly where the strata have been exposed by quarries and railway cuttings.

In Station Quarry, which is owned by the Naturalists Trust, two layers of limestone can be seen, separated by a bed of shale. At one point there is a dip in the lower layer, possibly from a watercourse, millions of years ago. This is filled with the shale and a large limestone boulder can be seen within it. Elsewhere in the area there are signs of lava flows from long-ago volcanic activity.

As we descended what looked like a harmless track Mr Rooney and Mr Davison were both fallers.
We went down some steps and turned right onto an old railway track.

This, indeed, was the former Buxton to Matlock line which later became the main rail route to London.

It is better known now, of course, as the Monsal Trail, about 8.5 miles (13.7 km) in length, starting at the Topley Pike junction (in Wye Dale, 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Buxton) and running  to Coombs viaduct, 1 mile (1.6 km) south-east of Bakewell.

It follows the valley of the River Wye and runs parallel to the A6. For many years the Trail could not trace the trackbed  as rail  tunnels had been closed for safety reasons, such as at Monsal Head and Cressbrook, meaning that the Trail was diverted.

The tunnels were walked by Julia Bradbury as part of BBC TV's Railway Walks: The Peak Express.
Many resulting access points and diversion paths were unsuitable for those using cycles or wheelchairs or with difficulty walking due to steep uneven stone steps or narrow paths.

Plans to make the tunnels safe and re-open them to the public were given the go-ahead at a cost of £3.78m and the tunnels were opened officially for use on 25 May 2011 at a ceremony at the Headstone Viaduct (they had actually been open 12 days earlier).

As a consequence, the Trail is now virtually level (though the former diversions are still usable, if desired).

Below, to the left, is the notorious Litton Mill, downstream from Millers Dale station, where orphans from major cities were abused by Ellis Needham, with the graves of many to be found in local churchyards.

Here the Wanderers split into three. The main body, led by Mr Davison, took a path on the right, over the first two tunnels. Mr Rooney took a path to the left. Your diarist and Mr Cunliffe decided to walk the tunnels and were afforded the sight of hundreds of ice stalactites.

 The splintered groups converged about 500 yards after the second tunnel and entered the third tunnel - Headstone - as one.

Train drivers back in the day used to say when they emerged from this tunnel  (coming the other way to our walk) that they thought they were “in the Alps”.

As this was long before Judith Chalmers was born, we must assume their knowledge of the Alps was limited to picture books. But the simile is fully justified.

A few hundred yards from the third tunnel we took a path to the left following a sign which said “Little Longstone”. We reached a road and turned left, passing an expensive barn conversion on our right, to arrive at the Pack Horse (which opened in 1787, incidentally) at 12.03pm.

There was an array of guest beers, including Kipling (ABV 5.2) at £3.35, Lord Maples and Wild Swan both at £3.10, Black Sheep at £3.05 and Jaipur at an eye-watering £3.55. We left the pub at 12.50pm, turning right and passing the rather pretty church.

At this point by a quirk of my iPhone's camera a dismembered hand seemed to appear in front of Mr Fairman recreating a scene from the 1966 classic horror series Dr Terror’s House of Horrors.

  Mr Fairman and the Hand

Film buffs may recall Tarot card reading oddball Peter Cushing - all scary eyebrows and German accent - foretelling the fates of five rail commuters in this trend-setting horror film. 

While the movie never quite tops its jaw-dropping earlier episode in which legendary BBC Radio DJ Alan Freeman wrestles with a deadly vine with plans for world-domination, it comes close with the episode “Disembodied Hand”.

Christopher Lee is perfectly cast as a pompous, pretentious art critic, particularly fond of lambasting the work of artist Michael Gough. Subsequently he’s hounded by Gough, even after he runs him over and causes the artist to lose a hand.

Was there a subtle nod to Van Gogh (who famously lost an ear) in choosing the fictional name Gough, I wonder?

We passed the Monsal Head Hotel on our left and went down some steps to our left.

We crossed a bridge and found ourselves in the Wye Valley.

Approaching the A6 again,we  crossed it and went straight over and up a hill following a sign saying “Taddington”.

This was a long and quite exhausting climb that took its toll on a few Wanderers.

We reached what appeared to be the top at 2.05pm only to find that a further climb was required and we swung right up a new incline to reach a road.

We walked on to a T-junction where we turned right and the outskirts of Taddington hove into view.

We reached the cars at 2.30pm, de-booted and entered the Queen’s Arms where Chatsworth Gold was £3.20 and Barnsley Bitter £3.

A sign by the fire said it all……

Join me soon for another wander.

1 comment:

Wilfred the dog said...

Love your wanderings George, not far from Lichfield where I lived.

Chris (cukurbagli)