Blue John Mine | Peak District Towns and Villages | Staffordshire | Derbyshire | England | UK
Peak District Towns and Villages: Blue John Mine
Villages around Blue John Mine
|Bradwell (or Bradda as it is known locally) owns something of a distinction. A sprawling but interesting collection of old cottages, the village actually retains a significant amount of local industry and is not dependant on tourism. Engineering, quarrying and ice cream-making are all important here but have surprisingly limited impact on the appeal of the settlement they serve.|
The discreet charms of Bradwell are fairly well hidden from the average passer-by, for the main part of the village clings to a steep hillside above the main road and can hardly be seen. The centre of the village, which lies above the brook just south of the main road, is a rabbit-warren of tiny cottages and narrow lanes with picturesque names like Soft Water Lane, Hungry Lane and Hollowgate. From here the houses spread right up the hillside, from where there are fine views across the Hope Valley.
On the road to Tideswell up Bradwell Dale lies Hazelbadge Hall, one of the oldest houses in the area, which was built in 1549 and still has the arms of the Vernon family on its wall. Bradwell is also noted as the home of Samuel Fox, the inventor of the modern umbrella mechanism. His house is marked with a plaque and lies just off the main street.
Also of interest is the home of Bradwell's Home-made Dairy Ice Cream, in the centre of the village, and Bagshawe Cavern, (open to visitors & adventure caving groups) up the hill to the South.
Brough is a nearby small hamlet on the banks of the River Noe, important in Roman times as the site of the Anavio fort, an important factor in the Roman occupation of the Peak District. Here Batham Gate, the Roman road from Buxton, met the roads from Melandra (near Glossop) and that which came from Sheffield and Doncaster via Stanage edge. On the mound behind the modern hamlet the Romans built a wooden stockade about AD70 and this was replaced by a stone one around AD150. Altars and a commemorative stone from the fort are in the Buxton museum. After about AD200 the fort was only intermittently garrisoned but a settlement grew up around this important road junction.
Bradwell Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
The two main features of interest, apart from the castle, are Cave Dale and Peak Cavern. Both are reached from the top of the main square - Cave Dale to the left (east) and Peak Cavern to the right (west). Cave Dale is a collapsed cavern and the very bottom part was covered by a natural arch until 200 years ago. It is a spectacular walk up the dale, which is very deep and narrow, with mineral veins crossing it at intervals. As you climb up the Dale, directly above the subterranean chambers of Peak Cavern, you get a good view of Peveril Castle.
The recently discovered Titan cavern under nearby Hurd Low dwarfs Peak Cavern and means that in the future Peak Cavern will have more competition for visitors but Titan remains inaccessible to the public for the foreseeable future.
Around the village square there are some fine old houses and cottages, including a Youth Hostel and some pubs. On the main road there are several shops selling Blue John (a local variety of Fluorspar with a fine colouring), jewellery made from this or souvenirs. One shop here houses the Ollerenshaw Collection, which contains a range of fine specimens of Blue John jewellery and artefacts.
Towards Mam Tor there is a public car park with public toilets and the Peak National Park Information Centre (telephone 01433 620679).
Castleton has a carnival at the end of May, the main event of which is called Garland Day on May 29th, when large garlands of flowers are made and the participants wear sprigs of oak. The Garland King and Queen are weighed down with immense garlands and a parade takes place through the village to the main square, when the King's garland is placed on top of the church tower. The ceremony is said to commemorate the Restoration of Charles II (hence the oak sprigs), but may well be a relic of some ancient fertility rite.
Castleton Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Edale is the name given both to the valley between Mam Tor, Lose Hill and Kinder Scout and to its main settlement. As well as the main village there are several small farming hamlets strung out along the valley - Barber Booth, Ollerbrook Booth and Nether Booth.|
Kinder Scout. Second, it is the start of the Pennine Way, England's first and most famous long-distance footpath; and third, it is served by the railway - a factor which may be less important than it used to be but which played its part in making Edale accessible to the hard-working folk in Manchester and Sheffield.
At the head of the valley, in Barber Booth, it is often possible to obtain teas at weekends and there are several campsites between here and Edale village. Further down the valley, horse rides are available at Lady Booth Farm in Nether Booth. There is a Youth Hostel high on the the side of Kinder at Rowland Cote, above Nether Booth.
Edale Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Great Hucklow & Little Hucklow
|Great Hucklow was once a lead-mining village and one of the former mines beneath the village was afterwards mined for fluorspar. It is now a pretty little village nestling below Hucklow Edge and has become a popular place to live. It was a centre of Unitarianism from the late 17th century and now has a Unitarian Conference Centre. |
The village was once famous for its plays, which were written by a local resident, L. du Garde Peach, who lived in what is now the conference centre, and performed in a converted lead-smelting mill. These plays were based on local Derbyshire 'types' and acted by local people - du Garde Peach effectively created his own genre. The theatre ran from 1927 to 1972 and when du Garde Peach died in 1976 the tradition unfortunately died with him.
Above the village, on the plateau behind Hucklow Edge, there is the 'airfield' of the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club, and most weekends a number of gliders will be airborne overhead.
Great Hucklow has a well-dressing in mid-August.
Near to Great Hucklow are the small hamlets of Windmill, Grindlow and Little Hucklow. The walking around here is gentle and very pleasant with easily followed footpaths crossing old drystone wall field systems while above Great Hucklow there is access into the beautiful Bretton Clough.
Great Hucklow & Little Hucklow Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Hope is about the same size as nearby Castleton but of quite a different character, for though tourists do come to Hope, most of them pass through to other centres. The village is quite pretty, but dominated by the cement works which lies at the foot of Pindale.|
The village lies at the junction of the River Noe and Peakshole Water, where the Edale valley meets the Hope valley. It was the base of the Eyre family, whose various branches became major landowners in this area of the Peak and played a significant role in its history. The original Eyre was said to have come with William the Conqueror and lost a leg in the battle of Hastings - hence the family crest has an armoured leg above the shield.
Around the church there are several shops and two pubs - the Woodroffe Arms Hotel and the Old Hall Hotel - the latter was once the house of the Balguys, a family of local landowners. There is also a car park with public toilets. There are further pubs along the road towards Castleton and along the Edale road.
On the north side of Hope valley, between the Noe and the Derwent, lie the two small secluded hamlets of Thornhill and Aston. Originally the Eyre family had their seat at Thornhill but there is nothing to see of this now.
Hope has a railway station 1km east of the village, near to Aston. This is on the Sheffield to Manchester line and has fairly frequent trains to both cities.
Hope has a well-dressing festival at the end of June. The large car-park at the centre of the village means that it is a good base for those wishing to walk the Great Ridge, over Lose Hill to Mam Tor
Hope Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Castleton is a centre for visiting many of these old workings, which can also be seen at Bagshawe Cavern near Bradwell and at Poole's Cavern in Buxton. Blue John is turned into jewellery in Castleton's craft shops and the village is famous too for its Christmas lights and the ancient Garland Ceremony held every May.
To the north of the valley a walk from Mam Tor to Losehill along the ridge dividing the Hope and Edale valleys gives unrivalled views in both directions.
The train from Manchester or Sheffield is a popular way to visit the valley. From the west, the line bursts out of the Cowburn Tunnel to stop at Edale - the next valley north of Hope Valley, a great centre for walkers, pony trekkers and campers and the start of the Pennine Way. The railway follows the Edale Valley to its junction with Hope Valley just east of Hope Village and continues eastwards with stations at Hope, Bamford and Hathersage.
The three rivers which define the valley are; Peak Water, rising from Peak Cavern and flowing to Hope; the River Noe, rising on Kinder Scout near Edale and flowing down to join Peak Water near Hope; and the River Derwent, rising on Howden Moor before flowing through a series of massive reservoirs on its way to meet the Noe at Bamford. These reservoirs are another important recreational centre. Bicycles can be hired to explore their pine clad slopes or perhaps you would rather sample the excellent fishing on the Ladybower Reservoir at the Eastern end of the A57, Snake Pass.
At Hathersage the Derwent makes a sharp right turn to flow southwards. This appears to make the Hope Valley appear apart from the rest of the Derwent Valley and from the surrounding uplands - hemmed in by the slopes of Mam Tor to the west and by the gritstone edges to the east.
Hope Valley Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Peak Forest does not have many trees, for it is named after the Royal Forest of the Peak; a 'forest' being an area set aside for hunting rather than a wooded place. North-west of the village lies Chamber Knowl Farm, where the Swainmote (one of the courts of the Royal Forest) used to meet, but the present building dates from the eighteenth century, long after the forest was abolished.|
The Royal Forest originally covered most of the northern half of the Peak District when founded by William the Conquerer, but this area was gradually whittled away by encroachment until only a small area around Peak Forest remained by the 16th century, and the forest was finally abolished in 1674.
The current church dates only from the late 19th century, but the church on this site has an interesting history. It was founded in 1657 by the Countess of Devonshire (at a time when the Commonwealth had forbidden church-building), and is one of a very few in the country dedicated to Charles the King and Martyr - so it is clear where the Devonshires' sympathies lay! Until the late eighteenth century the vicar had the right to conduct marriages between 'any persons', 'from anywhere' and 'at any time'. The village hence became a sort of local Gretna Green.
A less accessible feature of Peak Forest is Eldon Hole, one of the seven wonders of the Peak. It is the deepest local pothole; an alarming, evil-looking chasm in the side of Eldon Hill to the north of the village. Access from the village is via Eldon Lane, and is a half-hour walk. The hole is approximately 60 metres deep, but was probably once much deeper, having been part-filled by stones over the years. It was first descended in 1780 and is now quite regularly descended by potholers. Near to Edlon Hill is Starvehouse Moor, a very interesting area and one of the few Limestone Heaths that can be found in the Peak District. Here you will find the curious phenomenon of heather growing on limestone. Made possible by the acid nature of the Loess soils in which it grows.
The village has a shop and a pub, the Devonshire Arms. There is a well-dressing in mid-July.
Peak Forest Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge
|The quaintly named hamlet of Sparrowpit nestles in a wind-swept spot on a high shoulder where the road from Winnats Pass meets the A623 road, which runs between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Chesterfield. The gritstone houses seem to try to shelter behind the hillside to avoid the wind, for there is little natural shelter here.|
The only amenity is a pub, called the Wanted Inn. This contains some good pictures of the caves as well as snow-bound winter shots of the pub.
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