Thursday, 12 November 2015

Out and about in rural Derbyshire with Dziadzio

My brother invited our father and me to his home in Duffield, in rural Derbyshire, a beautiful part of the Midlands. Making the most of my hire car, we drove up, and today we set off to see the sights, with my brother our local guide. Below: on Alport Height, looking out over Wirksworth.

The beauty of the English landscape, from 1,000ft (310m) above sea level. See how the earth dips and rises, how the woodlands, hedges, stone walls cling to its contours.

Below: the Alport Stone, 20ft (6m) high, a pillar of gritstone a little downhill from the summit, facing the west.

But wait - turn around through 180 degrees and look east, to the summit... seven radio towers... the sky criss-crossed with contrails of airliners as they cross the Midlands at cruising height.

On, on to Wirksworth, and its restored railway station, which once channelled 400,000 tons of locally quarried limestone each year into the British economy. From Duffield runs a railway, run by volunteers, with as service at this time of year that operates just two days a week. The Duffield to Wirksworth line is noted for its fine collection of 1950s diesel railcars, two of which are seen below.

To the north of Wirksworth is quarry country - some of Britain's finest building and sculptures were of limestone from these parts, stone of great purity and strength. The quarries - mostly abandoned now - are being turned into visitor attractions by volunteers, who give up their time to restore Britain's industrial heritage after decades of neglect. Below: here we are at the end of the Steeple Grange Light Railway. The whole area resembles scenes the Zone from Tarkovsky's Stalker.

Below: at the National Stone Centre a few miles from Steeple Grange. Dziadzio attempts to shift a Rolls-Royce-engined shunter that stands by the High Peak Trail. The National Stone Centre is full of geological wonders; 330 million years ago, this would have been a beach on the shores of a tropical coral sea.

The weather begins to turn; clouds scud rapidly across the sky; time for lunch. We retire to the bistro in Wirksworth for soup, chorizo and omelette. Wirksworth is a beautiful little town, very pleasing on the eye. Below: back to the car park by the church, we pass a milestone.

This time three years ago:
In praise of Warsaw's trams

This time five years ago:
Setting sun in the mountains

This time six years ago:
That learning moment

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