13 November 2015

Valleyside

Who lived there at Bamford House - high on the eastern slopes of The Upper Derwent Valley? It is in ruins now and the advanced state of the ruination suggests that the place hasn't been occupied for donkey's years. Its position is very exposed. Even on a mild afternoon in November, a buffeting wind from the west contained a chilly winter warning. Thus it was easy to imagine how untempered winter storms must strike the location with full force. There are no windbreaks.

What did they do up there long before the valley below was dammed to create three reservoirs? They would have had no electricity, no telephone, no motorised vehicles and surely very little money. They must have been very hardy, resilient people - tuned into Nature and the moods of the weather, able to read the signs with the expertise that experience brings. Archaeological evidence suggests that their working time moved between rearing sheep, quarrying stone and digging peat from the moors. It is easy to forget that in distant times peat was an important domestic fuel in the area and the dwellers of Bamford House must have made money from it - hauling it to nearby villages.

There would have been dogs barking or steaming by the peat fire as another cold wind roared about the stolid stone walls like a merciless beast, making sleep fitful. But in the early summertime when swallows danced over the budding heather and cottonwool clouds slid across a clear blue sky, it would have been heartening to scan the enchanting  valley below like a god,  to watch a hawk hovering as if entirely still and to listen to the maaying of new lambs.. Times when it felt so good to be alive in that lonely place that you wouldn't have wished to live anywhere else.
Bamford House seen from the western side of the valley last week

10 comments:

  1. My goodness, milord, you do have a way with words! Have you ever thought of taking up writing?

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    1. Yes my colonial friend. "Once upon a time..."

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  2. A way of life most people today can not imagine anymore, with all its physically hard work, few opportunities for social interaction and a very limited access to knowledge and information, all this at a pace much slower than the average person's day-to-day rhythm. Did they sometimes long for it to be different, to have more luxury, more distraction, more comfort? Or were they glad they were away from the dirt and dangers of city life, and the prying eyes of near neighbours?

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    1. Today we have daily reminders of how other people live their lives but the inhabitants of Bamford House were not bombarded with such information. They just had to get on with things - to survive, to tick off the years and to laugh whenever they could. And yet - perhaps it is part of the human condition to live with a degree of discontentment.

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  3. I read that Bamford House is a derelict farmhouse...so I guess that means they ran sheep...do you think that would be correct, Yorkie?

    Once upon time it looks like it would've been a solid structure to keep the bracing winds at bay.

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    1. Yes Lee - sheep farming but also quarrying and peat digging. I haven't been able to find out much more about it. I guess it was abandoned over a hundred years ago.

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  4. These people were very skillful in using resources around them to survive well. What is interesting is to sit back at this time and wonder what their lives were like.

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    1. Yes Red. In some respects they were probably like native North Americans - making the best use of the resources they found around them.

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  5. No electricity, telephones or motorised vehicles! How awful.

    What did these people do all day long? They worked at whatever from sunup to sundown, walked everywhere ( or maybe rode a horse) and within the boundaries of their lives had face to face conversations with those people they met during their day.

    Ms Soup

    A very different world.

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    1. Yes it makes you think Alphie. ...And sometimes they drank soup - mutton soup.

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