5 March 2015

Belper

St John's Chapel, Belper (1250)
Belper is a town in the middle of Derbyshire and home to 22,000 souls. Until Tuesday of this week, I had never been there before but as we were promised a sunny day I decided to go and investigate. It's about an hour's drive south of Sheffield. My plan was to take a stroll around the town before rambling in the rolling Derbyshire countryside just west of Belper.

Two things were important to the growth of Belper. Firstly, The River Derwent which flows through the valley and once powered cotton mills. Secondly, local mineral deposits including coal and iron ore. The earliest industry here was nail making and even today the nickname of the local football team - Belper Town - is The Nailers.
Fountain in Belper Marketplace
There were many interesting buildings, including churches, squat little mill workers' cottages and the great East Mill down by the river. Several old pubs appear to have been mothballed and there were some lovely stone mansions looking down into the river valley. The oldest building in Belper is believed to be St John's Chapel up from the marketplace. It was built in 1250.
Shangri-La is in Belper
A view of The East Mill, Belper - It was a cotton mill
After the town walk, I parked at Mount Pleasant where I purchased a locally made pork pie and a pint of milk from the grocery store at the top of the hill. After consuming the aforementioned items, I set off to The Dalley - a pleasant little dale - and then up the other side to Handleywood Farm. Onwards through the woods to Hollyseats Farm where a big lorry from Grimsby was trying to reverse down the narrow lane. The driver was blaming his SatNav but I am not so sure that that was the real culprit. A farmer with tractor had come along to try to help but for all I know the truck could still be there. Crazy world.

Then on to Blackbrook and back up the sloping side of The Dalley where a nasty boxer dog in a khaki coat came barking at me from behind the gorse. Ugly mutt. He was associated with some horsey young women who were exercising their prancing beasts in a paddock down below. I didn't like the look of that slavering, red-eyed hound as he came up behind me and got rather too close to my legs. I would love to have given him a damned good kick with my size elevens but I knew that the horsey women wouldn't be too happy if Mutley ended up with a broken jawbone. After a stand off of two or three minutes, one of the horsey women finally responded to the dumb creature's incessant barking and reluctantly he trotted off back to Horseworld. Phew! What a relief!

Past the cottages and up the steep  hill on the other side to return to my car at Mount Pleasant. And then an hour's drive back to Sheffield via Ambergate, Matlock, Chatsworth and Baslow. A fine day out and so good to be feeling quite healthy and strong again. As I wasn't in the mood for cooking, for a pleasant change we had fish and chips for tea from The Ranmoor Frieries.  Truly scrumptious.
Cottages by Dalley Lane
Hollyseat Farm
The perils of SatNav on  Hollyseat Lane

25 comments:

  1. The trucking company are still learning their ABC's, they stand no chance reading a satnav!

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    1. It was so tight that I couldn't squeeze by until the lorry had stopped and the driver had got out to check the corner.

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  2. Lovely post, as lovely as Sally Anne Howes in the role of Truly Scrumptious in the motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

    Mrs. RWP just said that every day that we're walking upright is truly scrumptious.

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    1. I imagine that when you were a young man and fancy free your IBM chat up line with the young female employees would be "Hey babe, I think you are truly scrumptious!" and then they would whack you with their handbags (purses).

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  3. Belper is not a place I would have stopped in. I didn't know what I was missing. There are obviously bits that are worth seeing.

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    1. They should make Belper a tourist destination - "Live your holiday dreams in Belper". And the countryside to the west of it is gorgeous.

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  4. I love the brambly hedge at Hollyseat Farm! and the cottages surrounded by beautiful green countryside. All appears so very orderly and clean - no trash lying about, nor junk cars in sight. Many of the homes you photograph seem cut from the same cloth, so to speak. Very similar in architecture. I'll bet that truck driver was vowing to never come up that road again.....

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    1. You are most observant ma'am. Only when one leaves England for a lengthy time do we appreciate its green beauty upon returning.

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    2. Except me! I appreciate England's sublime loveliness for ever! And I so rarely even visit.

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    3. Me too! Me too !

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  5. What an adventurous day, and such great weather, too! Love the third picture from the bottom, and the church in the first one.
    The best news of all is of course that you feel (nearly?) back to your old form, and we can expect many more walks and pictures soon!
    Weather forecast for here says we're in for a sunny and mild weekend, with temperatures reaching 16 Celsius by Sunday or Monday. Can't wait!

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    1. I will take nothing for granted Meike but yes I am feeling much more like my old self so fingers crossed there will be lots more plodding pictures to come. Glad you liked the third picture from the bottom - it was pretty much my favourite out of the hundred I took that day.

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  6. Another lovely looking area. I enjoy joining you on your walks. :)

    I wonder if Superman has ever used that phone box!

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    1. He was in there as I walked by Lee! I knocked on the glass and yelled "Oi! Superman! Hurry up I need to order a pizza!"

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    2. How exciting! I hope he already had his red, blue and yellow gear on; and that he complied willingly to your request! Which way did he fly off to?

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    3. He had changed back into boring old Clark Kent and was strolling off to write about the closure of "The Lord Nelson" pub for the local paper.

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  7. Love the wonderful countryside of the Peak District but don't find the villages quite so picturesque / pretty.
    I guess it's the sombre grey stone that most of the houses are constructed from and the black sooty stuff covering them that probably comes from past industries - and the fact that many towns were quite industrial I guess?

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    1. Belper is just to the east of The Peak District. When the boundaries of the national park were drawn they tried to exclude industrial towns as much as possible. If you come again try Winster, Bakewell, Castleton, Eyam, Ashbourne, Flagg, Monyash and Hartington. All lovely places in my view.

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    2. Helsie, if you want to have a look at pictures from Bakewell, I have some on my blog. I went there for a family reunion in 2013 and found it picturesque enough (albeit very touristy - of course, I was a tourist myself, so I should not complain...).

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    3. We spent two lovely weeks in Winster in 2008 so visited most of those places then. It is a very beautiful area with lovely walks..... But not as lovely as the Yorkshire Dales, they are top of the chart in my book .

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  8. Back somewhere around 2004 I spent a lot of time in and around Belper and, indeed, was looking for a house there but the prices were rather too high for me at the time. It turned out for the best as it happens. I'm not the wondering sort really but reading this post has made me wonder how life would have turned out had I now been living in that delightful place.

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    1. I think you would have been fine there Graham but from reading your blogs The Isle of Lewis probably matches your disposition more happily.

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  9. Oh, my wonderful Mr. Pudding. I am thrilled that you are feeling well enough to take me on more walks around England again. I have been needing to get up and get moving about now that spring is on the way. Wonderful picture of a lovely areal Venturing outside of the Peaks District is very lovely! Next time we visit Belper, we should go on the Poetry Trail.

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    1. I did see one mosaic poem on the wall of the old workhouse but it was only when I got home and googled that I realised it was part of a poetry trail. Glad you enjoyed the stroll Mama Thyme.

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  10. Belper is a wonderful little town. I could live there quite happily. Some of the Mill workers cottages open up on Heritage Open Weekends in September.

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