Thursday, 29 March 2012

Oakamoor Bridge

Oakamoor Bridge
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 14mm, 1/500s @ f/8)
Oakamoor bridge was built in 1710 to carry the turnpike road safely across the river Churnet. Oakamoor is the original home of the copper works of Thomas Bolton. The photo is taken from the site of the copper works. The works closed in the 1960s and very little trace of it remains. Its claim to fame is that it manufactured the copper cable that made up the first transatlantic telegraph cable in 1858.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Used Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce Diesel Shunter
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 16mm, 1/250s @ f/8)
"Psst! Anyone want to buy a second hand Rolls? Low mileage, in need of some attention!" This rusting and forlorn looking Rolls-Royce diesel shunter stands near to the National Stone Centre in Wirksworth. This photo taken on my walk yesterday.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Middleton Top

Middleton Top Engine House
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 10mm, 1/1000s @ f/8)
Another beautiful spring day tempted me on another walk on the High Peak Trail. This footpath and bridleway follows to line of the dismantled Cromford and High Peak Railway. The first part of the railway was built in 1830 to a design by Josiah Jessop, the son of the canal engineer William Jessop. It was clear that a canal would be impossible over the terrain so a tramway was built. This was to connect the Cromford Canal near Matlock with the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. There were several steep inclines on the tramway, the one at Middleton is 1 in 8½, too steep for the horse drawn trams or for their later replacements, steam locomotives. Instead a stationary steam engine was built at the top of the incline which pulled the wagons up by a cable. The tramway was laid to standard gauge (4' 8½") and the first steam engine was assigned in 1841, The "Peak" built by Robert Stephenson. Astonishingly, the line was still in operation up to 1963!
The engine house at Middleton Top still houses the original pair of beam engines, built in 1829, and both have been restored to full working condition by the Middleton Top Engine and Leawood Pump Group and can be seen in operation on certain dates through the year. They are the oldest working rotative beam engines in the world in working order and in their original site.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Crescent Moon and Venus

Crescent Moon and Venus
(Canon EOS 60D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS @ 250mm, 1/25s @ f/8, tripod, manual focus)
The Crescent Moon and Venus were apparently very close together in the sky on the nights of the 25th and 26th March. This photo was taken at 22:08 on 26th March. Jupiter is also close by, below this combination but not visible in the photo as it was quite near the horizon at this time.

Mow Cop Castle

Mow Cop Castle
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 24mm, 1/320s @ f/8)
Mow Cop Castle is an eye-catcher folly in the village of Mow Cop on the Staffordshire-Cheshire border. It was built in 1754 for Randle Wilbraham of Rode Hall in Cheshire to enhance his view and to serve as a summer house. After a chequered history involving disputed ownership, neglect and illegal quarrying the folly was handed over into the care of the National Trust in 1937. This photo taken in glorious spring weather this afternoon.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Mam Tor

Mam Tor
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, 1/800s @ f/8)
Mam Tor near Castleton is also known as the Shivering Mountain because of the regular natural landslides resulting in the quarry-like face. The sandstones and shales are unstable and heavy rains and frosts cause around 0.25m per year to fall away. The main Chapel-en-le-Frith to Sheffield road used to run past here but was closed permanently in 1979 because of the continual effort and cost needed to keep it open. It is situated at one end of the "Great Ridge", the best ridge walk in the Peak District, which is always busy with walkers, school parties and paragliders!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

More Birdwatching

Waders at Burton Mere Wetlands
(Canon EOS 60D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS @ 250mm, 1/640s @ f/11)
This photo was taken a bit outside the usual territory for this blog. Today we went birdwatching on the Wirral in Cheshire. Burton Mere Wetlands is a new, and very smart, RSPB reserve. The photo shows an Avocet and a Black-tailed Godwit. The duck in the foreground is a female Teal. The photo was taken from the Inner Marsh Farm hide.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Sunbathing Wren
(Canon EOS 60D, Canon EF-S 55-250mm IS @ 250mm, 1/400s @ f/11)
Sunbathing (or "Sunning") is a common bird behaviour. There are many theories as to what benefit the birds gain from this behaviour. At the simplest, it may be to warm up on cool days but it is also important for feather health. Sunning probably helps to get rid of feather parasites. It is also possible that it helps to produce vitamin D from the oil secreted by the preen gland at the base of the tail. This wren certainly appeared to be revelling in the spring sunshine at the Wolseley Centre, The Staffordshire Wildlife Trusts headquarters, today.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Josiah Wedgwood

Statue of Josiah Wedgwood
(Panasonic Lumix TZ10)
This statue of Josiah Wedgwood stands opposite Stoke-on-Trent railway station. There can be few people in the Western world that haven't heard of Wedgwood pottery. Wedgwood was born in 1730 and proved to have a natural talent for pottery and was working as a "thrower" by the age of 9. He founded his first factory in Burslem (one of the 6 towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent) before moving in 1769 to a larger, purpose built factory at Etruria. He experimented with, and perfected, the technique of applying moulded white bas-reliefs to add to his pottery which he called "Jasperware". He died in 1795 leaving a thriving business and a large fortune to his children.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

St Chad's, Longsdon

St Chad's Church, Longsdon
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 15mm, 1/200s @ f/8.0)
St Chad was Bishop of Mercia in the 7th century. He was based for a time at a monastery in Lichfield, Staffordshire and several churches in the county are dedicated to him. This magnificent building was erected in the early 1900s by Gerald Horsely inspired by the work of the Art and Crafts architect, Norman Shaw.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Narrow Bridge

Narrow Footbridge in the Coombs Valley RSPB Reserve
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 10mm, 1/60s @ f/8.0)
A beautiful March morning tempted me out for a 5.5 mile walk locally. The Coombs Valley Reserve is only about 3 miles from home so I set out to follow one of the waymarked "Staffordshire Moorlands Walks". The reserve is quite extensive with many paths, several quite steep! I guess that one should have lost some weight by the time one reaches this footbridge as it is only 15 inches between the handrails. Fortunately I still (just) fit!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Stanley Pool

Sailing Club at Stanley Pool
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 10mm, 1/500s @ f/8.0)
Stanley pool was built in 1786 as a supply reservoir for the Caldon Canal. The North Staffs Sailing Club has been based here since 1962. A building on the curiously named Puddy Lane below the dam used to be a flint mill but has now been converted into a private house.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Hazlehurst Junction, Caldon Canal

Hazlehurst Aqueduct
(Canon EOS 60D, Tamron 10-24mm @ 11mm, 3 photos HDR tone mapped @ f/8)
The Caldon Canal runs from Etruria (in the Potteries) to Froghall Wharf with a branch to Leek. Originally the main line extended as far as Uttoxeter but it was never a commercial success and closed in 1849, only 38 years after its opening. The Leek branch leaves the main line at Hazlehurst Locks. The main line drops down some 26 feet through the locks and passes underneath the Leek branch at the Hazlehurst Aqueduct. The aqueduct was built in 1841 and is just a few hundred yards from the Hollybush Inn at Denford, an excellent pub! The photo shows the main line passing under the Leek branch. The steep steps lead up to the towpath on the latter.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Minninglow - A Walk

Mystic Minninglow
(Canon EOS 60D, Sigma 17-70mm @ 17mm, HDR tonemapped and post-processed in Photoshop)

On a lovely sunny morning I took a 5.5 mile walk past Minninglow, Roystone Grange and Ballidon Quarry. Minninglow has fascinated me since I was a boy growing up in Derbyshire. A distinctive group of Beech trees stands at the top of a small hill. Hidden within is a Neolithic chambered cairn. I was never able to visit as there was no public access but there is now a concessionary footpath. The tall, old Beech trees tower over the remains of the cairn, surrounded by a stone wall and a younger plantation.

This is the story of my walk.

The walk starts from the Minninglow car park and picnic site on the High Peak Trail. The trail is along the track of a dismantled railway, the High Peak and Cromford. The line was opened in 1831 and connected the Cromford Canal with the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. It was considered an engineering marvel at the time with high stone built embankments and steep gradients. The line was finally closed to traffic by the Beeching Axe in 1967. The photo above was taken from one of the embankments.

In the distant mist Minninglow appears as I follow the High Peak Trail.

Looking back, one can see one of the stone embankments built to carry the railway. The railway reached a height of over 1000', the highest built at the time, and gradients were as steep as 1 in 8! The first steam engine to use the line was Peak built by Robert Stephenson and Co.

The line passed over high grade Limestone and several quarries were built close by. This one is near Minninglow.

Some of the old machinery is still there such as this stone crushing machine. In places, you can still make out the rails of the quarry sidings.

Looking back from the climb up to Minninglow one can see two of the great stone embankments.

A black and white photo captures the mood at Minninglow. Stones from the chambered cairns can be seen in the foreground. The cairns have been excavated and looted since Roman times (Roman pottery and coins being found in one). Most recently in the 1960s when considerable damage was done.

The capstone of one of the chambers. Probably weighing several tons, at least it didn't need to be transported far as it is of the local Limestone.

After heading back down from Minninglow the footpath passes through a short tunnel under the High Peak Trail.

By now the weather was glorious, 15 deg C., warm enough to really enjoy the views of the Derbyshire countryside.

This farm is Roystone Grange. The Cistercian Abbey of Garendon, Liecestershire established the farm in the 12th century. Little remains of the original buildings and the new farm, in the photo, was built after the dissolution in the 16th century.

This building was erected nearby in the 19th century as a pump house. A steam engine compressed air through cast iron pipes to drive rock drills in the many quarries along the High Peak line.

The lane leading south from Roystone Grange runs in the bottom of a dale, unnamed on the OS map, towards Ballidon.

Ballidon Quarry is still worked. It produces large amounts of very high quality Limestone. The Limestone was formed in calm tropical seas in the Carboniferous era and consist almost entirely of the calcified remains of sea creatures with very few impurities.

The distinctive profile of Minninglow was clearly visible on the last section of the walk, along the road from Parwich to the Car Park. An excellent walk!