|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|
|The perils of SatNav on Hollyseat Lane|