376-381: Bristol Rugby, Exploring and National Trust in Cheshire.

376 – Wednesday 18th 2016:  Bristol Rugby v Doncaster Knights … VICTORIOUS

Doncaster in 2016 will now be famous for – giving Bristol Rugby half a leg up into the Premiership!  We met Tracey and John as arranged – and had a couple of beers before the game… the first half was inconsequential – but Brizzle opened up after half time and got clear by 15 points at the end.  These points will be carried forward to the second leg on Wednesday 25th in Bristol – we must find a pub to watch the return to top flight rugby – after 7 years of waiting…  But, many a slip betwixt cup and lips….

Before the game, we caught the 81/82 bus into the city centre.  The terminus was at the modern shopping centre; you could have been anywhere in the country!  Doncaster does not feature in any of the guidebooks, but google had revealed that there are some fine Georgian buildings, a Mansion House and a Museum.  The visit to the TIC revealed that they were all … shut today!  Ho hum.  There are the well renowned markets to see … but again, today mostly shut.  Obviously the RFU, Sky and Doncaster city did not liaise about what visitors might be able to see.


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Doncaster has been the victim or poor urban planning, but the historic markets are renowned for their fresh foods … just not fully operational today.

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The Minster was burned down in 1853 and rebuilt in gothic revival style. The architect was the prolofic George Gilbert Scott; amongst his works are Westminster Abbey and the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park.

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The Edmund Schulze organ was installed in 1862.  I KNOW we’ve seen another Schulze somewhere, but can’t for the life of me remember where and can’t find it on the web either.  

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What a nerve racking first half.  


377 – Thursday 19th May 2016:  Three Reservoir Bike Ride

Good parking near the Ladybower reservoir – and we set off with our silent bikes (we are missing the dragging hum of J’s rear brake that has followed us around Europe for a year … he’s not missing the extra effort of the constantly on brake though!)  – for an estimated 18-mile tour of the waters.  How can you have inclines, declines and reclines around flat water?  But, it was mostly flatclines to be fair.  An early stop for coffee and a cake – consumed, despite the attentions of the entire Mallard family!   Good easy cycling – and a lunch stop at the Slippery Stones – I managed a huge cheese and ham bap that was more like a cake!   Apparently they are called cobs up here.  Back at Chard, we calculated that our trip was more 20+ miles than 18 – good training…..


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Lady bower was completed during WW2, despite materials scarcity as the need for water was great.  The three reservoirs supply most of Derbyshire and Sheffield.

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The Derwent Rexevoir Dam, began in 2902.  Some was quarried in Grindleford and a specially built train line brought the stone up.

During WW2, Squadron 617 – The Dam Busters – practised low flying manoeuvres here with the bouncing bomb.

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At the head of Howden Reservoir – Slippery Stones, our lunch spot.

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378 – Friday 20th May 2016:  Hope and Castleton Walk Broken By A Pub Lunch

That good old British (and Clune family) tradition of the Pub Lunch had to feature sometime this week…..a perambulation to Castleford – and the welcoming arms – of the first pub we encountered. Wine, crab cakes, soup and cheese board (a bit steep at £43 pounds) – set us up for the return leg – across gently rolling fields – see the convenient stone steps instead of a stile. Hope village – and rest…..  Casterton though has little to recommend it.  We were ‘nicely’ accosted by some students conducting a survey: “Did we feel that Castelton’s economy relied on Tourism?”  A resounding YES.

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Clouds playing across the hills.

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This tin hut is one of the few remaining workers’ huts of which there were thousands, used to house the workers on the Reservoirs we cycled round yesterday. 

379 – Saturday 21st May 2016:  Shopping and Drive to Knutsford

I love Aldi!  A full trolley, including meat (lots) and booze (some) and the bill …. £114.  Remaining ingredients from Waitress – 1 bag …. £65.  Message to self … menu plan ONLY what can be bought at Lidl and Aldi!

We have left the rolling hills of Derbyshire and entered Cheshire.  It seems very flat and more built up.  Well, it is close to Manchester.  We are here for two nights as Kerstin and her mother are flying out of Manchester on Monday, but coming to supper with us on our CL on Sunday evening.  Our CL seemed to be on the flight path into Manchester Airport…. but it does not bother the numerous rabbits that are grazing near us.  The CL had a short fixed hose, so we could not fill our 95ltr tank.  It also had recycling bins, but no general waste.  A fellow camper told us we had to sort everything …. GRR what to do with composite materials and things that don’t quite fit into Plastic, Glass, Paper, Card or food waste?  We did what we could and resolved to find a normal bin on the morrow.


380 – Sunday 22nd May 2016:  Tatton Park

Prior to greeting Kerstin and her Mum, we thought – why not Tatton Park?  National Trust – free to us via our Italian FAI membership – and parking with the coaches.  Although owned by the NT, it is run and financed by the local council, so we had to cough up £6.00 just to enter the hallowed grounds.  More coffee and ice cream awaiting the 1:00 pm house opening time. The house is nice but not spectacular – neoclassical style.  But the gardens are quite something – Mr Joseph Paxton’s influence again…

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Minton masquerading as Sevres, with the family initials.  A lot of great porcelain on view.

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The last Baron had to build a massive hall to house all his hunting and collecting trips … animals like this right the way around the Tenants Hall.

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We preferred the gardens … wacky topiary.

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Rhododendrons and Azaleas were amazing.

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The Japanese Garden is considered one of the finest in the UK … but then it did actually have Japanese workers create it.

We had a lovely evening – with lots of stories from Scotland where Kerstin and her Mum had just been – and tales of our adventures.  They had been in Scotland in search of puffins.  The puffins had been absent, but we were able to inform them that we’d see hundreds, nay – thousands, nay – hundreds of thousands of them off the Northumberland coast near Seahouses.   

381 – Monday 23rd May 2016:  Quarry Bank Mill

We expected a nice museum with used engine bits and bobs……  What we saw – was a working mill!  Amazingly friendly staff – demonstrations of spinning and weaving taking you through from the cottagers to about 1920 machines.  Most of the machines were fully restored and about half were demonstrated for visitors today … a heating issue meant some were not running.  Really easy to see how the small children worked underneath the big machines cleaning the fallen materials and re-fixing broken threads … all in 5 seconds before the boom moved back again.  We saw the spot where one child had been crushed and were told of another who wrenched himself free, leaving behind his ear and half the skin on his face.  The workers suffered from the incredible noise of the machines, bone deformities from the constant crouching over them, throat cancer and bulbous eyes from the lint in the air.  

Yet on a tour of the Apprentice house we were told they were well cared for by their kindly employer compared to other mills.  The first factory doctor ever was employed here, they had plenty of food and only two to a bed!  Punishments were never beatings, but having to work overtime, or in severe cases isolation.  The Gregg family believed that the healthy workforce should  also be educated.  The question is … were they cynically looking after the workforce to get more labour out of them or was it true philanthropy?  We did not see it but the Channel 4 series ‘The Mill’ is loosely based on characters from here.   The working water wheel was majestic.  This is one of the best museums we have seen anywhere!  Top marks to all involved. 

After leaving here, we’ve headed back to Derbyshire.  We are on a site just south of Matlock and very near where we’ve cycled and walked before.

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There is actually a Steeplejack up on the chimney.  The heating in the mill was off so some of the machines were not running … they only like it warm.  We know two other people, who are still in layers, coats and scarves … whilst so many people have gone to T-shirts.  Is it because we did not experience the really cold British winter?

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Cottage Industry – Carding the cotton.  Usually performed by children.

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One of the multiple bobbin spinners … I think it was a spinning Jenny.

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As you walked through the mill, the industrial revolution developed and some of the machines were just huge.

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90 apprentices were indentured at any one time.  They arrived from Workhouses and were ‘enslaved’ / owned by the mill owner until they were 21.  This mantra was in the Apprentice House – my grandmother had this written into her school leaver’s book – guess it must have been from about 1920.  I’ve not seen it elsewhere and it really reminded me of Nanny.

373-375: White to Dark Peaks and Come On Bristol Rugby!

373 – Sunday 16th May 2016:  Foolow (not low) to Eyam Walk

Trundling our way through Foolow, we inclined steeply to a ridge – with a wing and a prayer – the prayer was answered at the top – a PH!  Resting on our laurels briefly – a glass of cold lager for J – and ginger wine for K. Fortified, we inclined a bit more and then declined to Eyam village via the well. The museum taught us lots about fleas, flies, rats and the Bubonic plague – Eyam sacrificed 280 of it’s 800+ inhabitants so that the rest of Derbyshire could survive – “no greater sacrifice than this…”. Lunch included chips – and a modicum of wine. We inclined back to our CL – and rested…..

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We’re heading up to that ridge…

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… fabulous rolling views from the top …

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… now that’s a good view …

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… ginger wine for me 🙂

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The heather clad moors looking north.

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Eyam is known as the plague village due to their self imposed quarantine when a bale of cloth brought the bubonic plague with it.  Neighbours would leave food and supplies by the well.

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Would that be Mr C with a glass of red whilst waiting for chips (which we shared!)

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Tractor procession as we left the pub.

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Eyam Hall is let to the National Trust.  The poor owners can no longer afford to live in it as it needs too much work and they only inherited in 1990!  The line died so the inheritance line went back to 1731!!!  It’s on a 20 lease to the NT, but the NT will not take it on fully without a £1m behest!


374 – Monday 16th May 2016:  Monsal Trail Bike Ride

Parking in Bakewell for Chard proved impossible – we just found a space at Hatton Station. Bikes readied cyclelogically, pedal power commenced. But – there was a clear and present problem!   My bike was silent!  Neither the brakes nor gears would speak to me!  Young Nigel in Matlock had silenced the blighters!  Smooth or what?  I was ready to be indeclined – up or down… It was brass monkey weather – arctic wind and it just seemed like freezing – we had all our layers on including my wooly hat – a long way from Punta Braccetto,  Dan…  If it was cold in the open – the 6 tunnels were littered with deceased brass monkeys!   But, after about 5 miles, a sight for cold eyes – not a PH – a “Tuck Shop”!  Hot coffee, a scone and flapjack of the chocolate variety…  The indeclines were flattened and the brass monkeys danced around the tunnels – we Charded back to Eyam CL – and rested…..



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View across the Wye Valley

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K:  Why shouldn’t we touch the sides?

J:  Because you’d fall off!

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End of trail coffee and cake stop.  So cold, J sporting a hat under his helmet.

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Litton Mill where Ellis Needham infamously ‘indentured’ (enslaved) children from the overflowing London workhouses until they were 21.  Conditions were truly appalling and some campaigners stated that there was opposition to the black slave trade, but little was done for the English slaves.

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Young Jade – almost 1 year old…..

 375 – Tuesday 17th May 2016:  Longshaw Estate and Padley Gorge to Grindlesham Walk

More full car parks – lots of Derbyshireans looking for Paddy Gorge…. But we succeeded at the Longshaw House – free for us as National Trust members. The walk declineated steeply passing Paddy G and lots of twitchers – some with very big ones!  Lenses – for those with doubting minds… At the bottom – The Cafe – highly recommended by a ‘Bongo’ owner we had met yesterday at Hatton Station. For the uninitiated, a Bongo is a VW-sized camper van – grey import from Japan – we had one for 2 years and loved it!   It led us ultimately – to Chard.  Sausage, bacon, hash browns, beans, chips – and tea fuelled us for the last incline of the day. A lovely shorter walk – and we journeyed to Hope village for our CL overnighter.  Thanks to K’s brilliant idea, we will travel to Doncaster tomorrow to see Bristol Rugby hopefully complete leg 1 of the Final – and return to the top table of English rugby – go Brizzle !  


Amazing views across the National Trust Longshaw Estate.  This is now the Dark Peaks – moorland and rockier.





Yes that is a cuppa tea.  Lunch was bacon, sausage, hash browns and the biggest place of chips ever!  Why is it the chips up here are so good?!?




The National Trust do a lot for children here. I wonder who lives here?

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So excited … just need to find somewhere to park our 8m+ van!  have checked with the farm owners, they don’t mind us arriving back late.