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Peak District Towns and Villages: Derwent Dams
Villages around Derwent Dams
On the road down to Hathersage lies Highlow Hall, an Elizabethan manor house and the seat of one of the branches of the Eyre family. A Robert Eyre of Highlow was High Sheriff of Derbyshire at one time. The building is quite distinctive and is reputedly one of the most haunted buildings in Derbyshire, with at least four ghosts.
To the west, on Hucklow Edge, there is the headquarters of the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club and at weekends gliders are often in the sky above.
Abney Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
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|Bamford is a former mill-village and occupies the hillside underneath Bamford Edge and above the River Derwent. There is a lot more to the village than can be seen when just passing through. It has some lovely quiet corners and the Derwent is especially pretty around the millpool just above the mill itself. The impressive wier can be admired from the footbridge below the mill that carries the Public Footpath across to the south bank. There is a well-dressing festival here in mid-July.|
The mill is the first of many on the course of the Derwent and was built around 1780, burnt down and rebuilt in 1791-2. It was a cotton mill but closed for this purpose in 1965 and was used by an electric furnace manufacturer until the 1990s. It has now been converted into apartments.
Ladybower Reservoir, about 3km away. At the bottom end there is the railway station, which very conveniently links Bamford with both Manchester and Sheffield. On the road just below the station the Peak Park have re-erected the Mytham Bridge toll gate which used to stand nearby. This was one of the toll gates on the first turnpike in the area - built in 1758 to link Sheffield to Sparrowpit. Higher up, at the centre of the village there are some shops and two pubs.
Nearer to Ladybower there is the settlement of Yorkshire Bridge, with a pub of the same name. This settlement was built to rehouse some of the people who were displaced when Ladybower dam was constructed in the 1940s.
Bamford Edge is a fine gritstone edge which overlooks the village and offers a fine view of Ladybower. The edge is private land and was not readily accessible to walkers until the 'Right to Roam' legislation came into effect. This means it is considerably less well tramped or eroded than other edges. The view from the edge is very worthwhile.
Below Bamford, across the Derwent lies the hamlet of Shatton. This straggles up a lane south of the River Noe leading up onto Shatton Edge. At the end of the lane lies Shatton Hall and Nether House, one of the houses Robert Eyre of Highlow built for his seven sons in Elizabethan times. Shatton Edge, high above the hamlet, offers fine views over the Hope Valley and good walking country.
Bamford Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
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|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
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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
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|Hathersage is one of the more interesting villages in the area, with historical associations to Robin Hood and the Eyre family. The village centres around a road junction above the River Derwent, where the road to Sheffield branches off the route which follows the Derwent downstream. The ancient centre of the village was just above the church, which itself stands above and to the north of the modern village centre. On a knoll next to it there is an earthwork called Camp Green, which is probably Danish in origin. |
Until the late 18th century Hathersage was a small agricultural village with cottage industries making brass buttons and wire, but in 1750 a Henry Cocker started the Atlas Works, a mill for making wire. By the early 19th century there were several such mills in operation and activities had spread to the manufacture of needles and pins, for which Hathersage became famous.
A paper mill was also in operation near North Lees, making wrapping paper for the pins and needles produced. Though water power was used initially for the mills, this was superseded by steam in the mid 19th century and the result was that the village was usually enveloped in a pall of smoke. Conditions for the workers were bad too. To make their points the needles had to be ground on a rotating gritstone wheel, a process which gave off fragments of dust and steel. Occasionally millstones would shatter while grinding, injuring the grinder. The lungs of the grinders gradually filled up with dust and their average life expectancy was 30 years. This prompted the interest of a Royal Commission in 1867 which led to one of the first Factory Acts, laying down working hours, requiring machinery to be protected and making it illegal for children to be employed on some types of work.
Wire and needle making moved to Sheffield at the end of the 19th century and the last mill here closed in 1902, but several of the mills are still standing - Dale Mill lies along the road to Ringinglow, Darvell's mill is at the top of the main street, and down near the stream at the bottom of the village are Atlas Works and Barnfield Works.
The modern village has a range of pubs, hotels and shops including banks, cycle hire shops and Outside, the outdoor equipment suppliers, with a cafe above. Behind the main street there is a public car park and the surprising luxury of an outdoor swimming pool (open only in summer). The railway station, on the Manchester-Sheffield line, lies on the southern edge of the village, while at the western end of the village there is a Youth Hostel.
At a hamlet called Leadmill on the Grindleford road there is an interesting modern cutlery factory, the David Mellor roundhouse.
Hathersage Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
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|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
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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
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