3 January 2014

Ladybower

Fifteen minutes due east of Sheffield, you arrive at the Upper Derwent Valley where three large reservoirs were created in the nineteen thirties. They are Howden, Upper Derwent and Ladybower and it was largely by the last of these that I was walking yesterday afternoon. A sad thing about Ladybower is that when the valley was dammed, two small but significant villages had to be drowned. They were Ashopton and Derwent. Less than half of Derwent remains and these gateposts that are now in a thicket on the edge of the reservoir once led to the old vicarage:-
Here I am looking over Ladybower from the track that leads up onto the moors:-
Here's the remains of Bamford House - an old farmstead on the valleyside above Upper Derwent:-
Here you can see two visitors and their dog standing in front of one of the dam walls - near the Fairholmes Visitor Centre. As you will observe, water is cascading over the dam after heavy rain the day before:-
Click picture

Back at my parked car, I notice Ashes Farm overlooking what remains of Derwent Village. A working shepherdess called Kath Birkinshaw lives here. She is a remarkable, hard-working woman who came down from the hills last year to speak about her life at Shirley's Women's Institute. Her father and grandfather before her were sheep farmers. Talks to local groups help to supplement her meagre farming income. There's not much money in sheep these days.

20 comments:

  1. Great pictures.

    Here's hoping the old vicar made it out of the old vicarage.

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    1. Ha! Ha! The Lord would surely have protected him or supplied him with inflatable water wings!

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  2. What an intriguing place! I have a "thing" for abandoned places, and so Derwent holds a strong appeal for me. I also seem to remember a mystery novel I read many years ago, where a body was found in an abandoned village that resurfaced at the bottom of a reservoir during an unusually long, dry summer. The descriptions of the abandoned village and its derelict buildings was quite haunting.
    Thank you for the link to the shepherdess' home page. Her life could hardly be more different from mine, which makes it fascinating to read about.

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    1. I am also very much drawn to abandoned places and I have wandered around many forgotten ruins - trying to absorb something of the essence of those who once dwelt or worked there, In very dry summers the reservoirs in the valley shrink and some ruins are invariably revealed. There's a book called "The Silent Valley" that tells the tale of past times there.

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    2. Thank you for telling me about the book, YP! I have looked it up on Amazon but can only find novels by three or four different authors, with none of the descriptions matching what I am looking for.

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    3. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silent-Valley-Derbyshire-submerged-Ladybower/dp/0950545899

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    4. Thank you so much! I have now found out that Vic Hallam wrote three "Silent Valley" books, "Silent Valley at War" and "Silent Valley Revisited" are the other two.

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  3. I'm embarrassed. You have shown me a couple of scenes I haven't seen.

    Thanks.

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    1. Eh? This isn't the Kama Sutra website!

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  4. Thanks for your comment, which made me chortle. They're actually called Kirsten, Laura and Peter. You were close. Mind you, someone called Mr Pudding isn't in a strong position to comment on people's names... .

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  5. I don't know the area particularly well but I used to walk the reservoirs of the Lake District once upon a time and the ghosts of villages gone have similar tales to tell. It's good to see that there are still people doing what Kath is doing. 50 years ago I used to go to similar illustrated talks and it was always my ambition at the time to be able to do that. I never did.

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    1. "I never did" - that's an evocative admission - by no means unique to you. "I did" is better.

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  6. That 'drowned village' is the stuff of romance now (there are quite a few Welsh ones), but imagine the distress when it actually happened.

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    1. For twenty years, the spire of Derwent church stood out above the water and on hot days young people would swim out to it. Eventually thde authorities blew it up.

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  7. A great place for walking (the land, not the res - unless you were born on 25th Dec). You could also tell us about the World War II connection - didn't the "bouncing bomb" bomber-planes practise here?

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    1. Yes that's right Brian before "addressing" key German dams. Oh and though I have some sandals, I wasn't born on December 25th!

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  8. It would be great to hear more of Kath Birkinshaw's life through a blog, and certainly to see more of her photos.

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    1. Yes Ian, I was disappointed to find that her website lacks photographic illustration. Perhaps you could invite her over to speak to the Stockport Old Codgers Group of which I understand you are the chairman.

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    2. Am I? Perhaps I am and it slipped my mind for a moment...

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