Nature triumphs over industry

Pete Hawkins, Tideswell,
Pete Hawkins, Tideswell,

Every month, almost, for the past ten years I have done the same walk; always on a Saturday and always with a group of mildly nervous but expectant walkers.

They’re all with me to learn how to read a map and a compass, and I’m there to bestow some 30 years knowledge on the subject.

Victor Gibbons, of New Mills, took this photo of Litton Mill.

Victor Gibbons, of New Mills, took this photo of Litton Mill.

The walk drops us down through Tansley and Cressbrook Dales, past the picturesque Ravensdale Cottages to Cressbrook Mill, then Litton Mill before a trot along the Monsal Trail and an ascent of The Limestone Way to take us back to Tideswell.

Not a difficult route to navigate but one that gives me plenty to teach around; places where the map is wrong, where it’s complicated and where the going is so simple it’s easy to forget where you are and miss a vital turning.
I never tire of the walk and never will.

It’s not just the walk though that is tireless, the landscape is too. The dales on my route are all part of the Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve and are quite rightly protected.

But it doesn’t take a detective to realise something dramatic has gone on in the past. 
Tansley Dale’s history of intensive lead mining would have seen this now serene valley a hive of bustling activity, as scores of men, women and children scratched a living from the rocks.

The mills at Cressbrook and Litton (dubbed the Devil’s Mill), now spacious and luxurious homes, were notorious hell-holes, where life was considered cheap and free to exploit.

The railway line itself blasted through the hills in pursuit of global industrial supremacy.

All these landscapes and their intertwined history unfold before me every time I take those familiar steps. Where industry once dominated, nature has now triumphed again, her patience rewarded in that timeless manner she has.

And it’s all out there for us to enjoy right on our doorstep, whether you can navigate or not.