Saturday 14th May, 2005
Sunday 15th May, 2005
Monday 16th May, 2005
Tuesday 17th May, 2005
Wednesday 18th May, 2005
Thursday 19th May, 2005
Friday 20th May, 2005

Saturday 14th May, 2005

Drop Cap nother fine day as we left as early as we could (08:30) for the Midlands. It was a rather complicated route, no motorways through East Anglia but we only took a wrong turn once.

Olwen and Lawrence photograph

Kay, Mac, Lawrence and Olwen at Sutton Coldfield

Drop Cap y 12:45 we were driving up to Olwen and Lawrence's place in Sutton Coldfield. They were very welcoming and gave us a very nice ham and chicken salad with plenty of carbohydrates for Geoff (who had almost had a hypo on the way). Olwen's daughter, Kay, came in at about 2:15 and had coffee with us before we had to go at about 3:30.

High Peak Cottage photograph

Cosy Lounge Room, High Peak Cottage, Cromford, Derbyshire

Drop Cap t was pretty easy to find Cromford on the A5 but when we got to the private road to High Peak Cottages it was so rough and the only building visible was a ruined barn with no windows, we could not believe we were in the right place!

Drop Cap o we went on and found the junction of a canal and railway further down but a woman in the shop there told us the place we had seen was it, so we went back.

High Peak Cottage photograph

Kitchen, High Peak Cottage, Cromford, Derbyshire

Drop Cap here we met David and Lorraine Wolsey, who welcomed us, took us past the old barn and up to the cottage. They live in one half and we have the other half of another converted barn.

Drop Cap fter the initial wrong impression we were instantly impressed with our accommodation. It is clean and fresh, well equipped with a large eat-in kitchen and a lounge with wood burning stove downstairs, two bedrooms and a lovely bathroom upstairs. Lots of vases with fresh and realistic artificial flowers and bowls of pot pourri on the windowsills.
Very nice.

Drop Cap e went out to Matlock to get some food in. The country is gorgeous! After the flat scene in East Anglia it is a tonic to see hills! Matlock Bath is a carnival madhouse with all "attractions" including cable cars to the Heights of Abraham. Matlock, a little further along has the shops etc. Anyway, we will explore tomorrow.

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Sunday 15th May, 2005

Haddon Hall photograph

First Sight of Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Drop Cap hat a great day! It was warm, sunny and clear so we tossed around a few options on how to spend our last day on our Heritage cards. After considering Chatsworth and Hardwick Hall, we settled on Haddon Hall.

Inside Haddon Hall photograph

Kitchen and Banqueting Range, Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Drop Cap his is a wonderful home, dating from Domesday Book, when William the Conqueror gave it to his bastard, William Peveral. Not much from that time is left but some of the earliest walls and part of the chapel are Norman. It was renovated in the 15 and 1600s. The chapel has amazing wall paintings, originally brightly coloured but now faded to monochrome.

Drop Cap he kitchens and Banqueting Room are huge and contain some original fittings from medieval times. The cosy dining room with its ceiling painted with various badges (which are the arms of family members and families which married into the family), is still used today.

Topiary at Haddon Hall photograph

Topiary in the form of Family Arms, Haddon Hall

Drop Cap he Long Gallery had a guitarist playing medieval tunes as we paced along. The windows were amazing, with the diamond shaped glass panes curved and offset to make the most of the available daylight. On the walls hung historic tapestries, one thousand years old, at least! and it was just lovely.

The gardens were superb. Beautifully kept, in terraces, with amazing views over the Peaks. We all loved it.

Derbyshire from Haddon Hall photograph

View from Walled Garden, Haddon Hall, Derbyshire

Drop Cap e had lunch there in the tearoom built over the stables, then dragged ourselves away to see if we could find any stone circles. We found Arbor Low Recumbent Henge and Circle. Unfortunately I didn't feel able to get up to it as it is in a farm paddock and over a couple of stiles, but Mac and Geoff found it and said it was very interesting. All the stones were there but were lying flat, not upright.

We didn't find the Nine Ladies, another stone circle on the trail, but I'm sure we will see some more somewhere.

Drop Cap fter a stop off at Caudlestone Mill and Craft Shop, (where I had to stop myself buying some glorious glassware!) and where we had afternoon tea, we crawled through Matlock Bath's Sunday traffic to home.

Drop Cap fter we got home we went for a walk along the canal and railway junction which is a world heritage industrial site. The canal is practically at our back door but we didn't realise about the railway as well. Apparently and most unusually, the canal and the railway were in co-operation instead of competition. The trains used to unload onto the canal barges and vice versa. There is a working pumping station just across the canal (in steam once or twice a month) which pumps water from the Derwent River into the Cromford Canal.

Drop Cap hope the weather holds out. Today has been great.

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Monday 16th May, 2005

Drop Cap ell, the weather did not hold out. We awoke to cold rain, such a contrast to the warm weekend.

Matlock Bath photograph

Victoria Bridge over the River Derwent, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

Drop Cap e pottered around Matlock, finding in the Derbyshire County Offices (a huge complex) not only a public restaurant (probably Staff Canteen primarily but open to the public) but free Internet Access, toilets etc. It was like a club. We caught up with our email, deleting most of it as usual. Things seem OK at home according to Bernie who is sending regular bulletins. The Brigade seems to be on a downward spiral with the Captain, President and Secretary not standing for re-election this year. The quality of nominees is not inspiring. Bernie asked if Mac would consider standing for President but he says he has no desire to preside over the death of the Brigade.

Warping mill photograph

Warping Mill loom, Masson Mill, Matlock

Drop Cap fter this we went to Masson Mill in Matlock. This is a textile mill started by Arkwright in the late 1700s to spin and weave cotton.

Loom Threads photograph

Thread feed to a loom, Masson Mill, Matlock

Loom Bobbins photograph

Discarded thread bobbins, various, Masson Mill, Matlock

Drop Cap he factory is now a museum which still does some work making cords and cloth and ribbon which they sell. The rest of the complex is four floors of specialty shops and a restaurant where we had lunch.

Drop Cap ame home to relax in front of the woodburning stove. Geoff goes on a spending spree in Nottingham tomorrow (Games Workshop!) He has been saving for this since 2000. Hope for better weather.

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Tuesday 17th May, 2005

Drop Cap uch nicer today! No rain and warm and sunny most of the day.

Carsington Water Reservoir photograph

Carsington Water Reservoir, Derbyshire

Drop Cap eoff left at about 08:00 for Nottingham, Mac taking him to the Station at Alfreton. After we had hung out a load of washing we drove out for a day of scenery. We started at Carsington Water which is a very extensive lake (probably a reservoir) but you could not see much of it as there was a wall obscuring one side and a large high levee bank the other. However, we drove on to Ashbourne where we had coffee, then on up towards Dovedale and the Manifold Valley to Ilam.

Ilam Cross photograph

Market Cross, Ilam, Derbyshire

Drop Cap his village is hugely picturesque with what looks like an Eleanor Cross in the middle, although there was nothing to name it there.

Ilam School photograph

Tiny Local School, Ilam, Derbyshire

Drop Cap e got lost in lots of tiny roads through farm yards etc until, by dint of needing a toilet, we stopped for lunch at a lovely pub called "The Dog and Partridge" at Swinscoe. We had a very good lunch on a sunny terrace with a view, then came home to do some shopping at Matlock.

Drop Cap eoff said he would find his own way home. I don't know when I should feel worried. Still, I keep telling myself he isn't a child (just a diabetic stranger in a strange land).

He got home alright - the train took two hours to do a twenty minute run! Just like home!

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Wednesday 18th May, 2005

Drop Cap e spent most of today at Crich Tramway Village Museum, which is literally ten minutes drive away from here.

Cromford Canal photograph

Mac and Geoff at Cromford Wharf, Derbyshire

Drop Cap ut first we explored Cromford Wharf on the Cromford Canal. This whole system is a World Heritage Industrial site mainly because it is over two hundred years old. The Railway sheds at High Peak Junction, just a stroll down the back from here, are the oldest still standing in the world! The water in the canal is very clear, we saw a small pike in the weeds.

Crich photograph

Village Shops, Crich, Derbyshire

Drop Cap hen on to Crich (pronounced Creyech, I think). This is a tramway museum which has a very large collection of electric trams of all periods set in a reconstructed village, complete with pubs, tearooms, and shops.

Trams, Crich photograph

Trams Passing, Crich, Derbyshire

Drop Cap he trams run every fifteen minutes or so, up through the woods where there are fantastic views of the surrounding countryside of the Derwent Valley. Our first tram took us to the end of the line, then back halfway to where a woodland walk and sculpture trail began. As well as the remains of lead mining operations.

Chainsaw Sculpture photograph

Green Man Chainsaw Sculpture, Crich

Drop Cap he woodland has been reclaimed from a large rock quarry operating very close to the village and the wooden sculptures along the path were created with a chainsaw out of tree stumps by a local artist. They are the most whimsical things, and very well done.
It is hard to believe the detail you can get with a chainsaw.

Chainsaw Sculpture photograph

Troll Sculpture, Crich

Drop Cap here was a giant ant, with a stump carved with several more, a troll climbing out of a hole and a wonderful Green Man. Combined with the view from the edge, it was magic.

Drop Cap fter lunch we had another ride in another tram, then went to look at the tram sheds. There was a large collection and the Exhibition, in the style of a trade exhibition of 1905, was wonderful.

Drop Cap e all enjoyed the day and it was nice to get home for afternoon tea.

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Thursday 19th May, 2005

Drop Cap bit overcast to start the day but it cleared mostly during the afternoon. We drove through the High Peak - Bakewell, Buxton, Chapel en le Frith and up to Castleton, where all the caves and mines are.

Peak Cavern photograph

Outside the Peak Cavern (looking into the sun)

Drop Cap e decided to look at the Peak Cavern, otherwise colourfully known as "The Devil's Arse"! This was relatively undemanding, you just needed to watch your feet a bit and be able to bend nearly double to get through a very low patch known as Lumbago Cave. The Cavern was not a patch on Jenolan, hardly a stalactite, no stalagmites, not much colour. However, the guide had a fun line of patter and it was one of the things you have to do up here.

Derwent Reservoir photograph

Derwent Reservoir Lake, Derbyshire

Drop Cap e had lunch at a tiny teashop near the Cavern, then set out through Glossop, over the Snake Pass and down to the reservoirs, Ladybower, Derwent and Howden. These were very attractively set about with trees and it was a nice drive. They tell me that this is where the Dambusters of WWII learned their skills. They would not have wanted to be too good!!

Drop Cap ack home we decided to go out for dinner and had great difficulty finding a restaurant.
Eventually, just as we were giving up, we found the Cottage Restaurant at Matlock Green, just outside the town proper. It was lovely, very small, with delicious food and a garrulous chef, waiter, washerup all in one. He reminded me a bit of Jamie Oliver.
There were few patrons, and at the end there was just us, and we had an interesting conversation with the chief cook and bottle-washer as mentioned.
It was a great night.

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Friday 20th May, 2005

Drop Cap ur last day dawned damp and cloudy but cleared with the wind. We had a rest day to get organised for our trek tomorrow, heading to Skipton for lunch with "Liz from Leeds" from my Terry Pratchett e-group, then on to Shap, near Penrith in Cumbria for the night.

Drop Cap have felt off all day, don't know why, I can't believe it was the food last night and I only had one glass of wine! Anyway, I did a large load of the last of the washing and it dried well in the wind and sun. Mac and Geoff went off to buy post packs for sending home large weights of books etc. We packed one large and three smaller boxes with books, magazines, guide books, souvenirs and excess clothes Geoff and Mac wanted rid of and they took them to the Post Office in Matlock Bath to have sent home by surface mail. It cost Two Hundred and Fourteen Pounds!!! But at least that is a load out of the cases and the car.

We want to get away as early as possible tomorrow so have packed the bags and the car tonight and will have our showers etc tonight as well.

Drop Cap ff to Bonnie Scotland.
I hope the weather keeps as good for us. It has been much more good than bad, so far

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