Northernvicar Walks – Snowdon in June

When we moved to Derby we ended up on the British Heart Foundation fundraising committee – some readers of this blog will know we have Dilated Cardiomyopathy in the family, our son Gareth had a heart transplant in 2004, a transplant which gave him another nine years of life. The BHF group organised a weekend – and I found myself saying “I’ll climb Snowdon with you.”

I was up early on Saturday 2 June 2018, left home about 0515 and had an easy drive across to North Wales. I got to Llanberis about 8, treated myself to a bacon roll from the station café, and watched the trains – I want a ride.

Other BHF folk started arriving by 0820, but it was 0900 before we were all together and able to set off. The first mile or so is steep, then it got slightly easier.

There were lots of people walking, but the queue for the half way café wasn’t too bad. Refreshed, we continued on. It was quite misty, so it was ‘head down and keep going’ – I prefer my solitary walks.

We started being passed by people on their way down – “another 15 minutes” they all said. It was a long 15 minutes, but eventually the signal for the station shone through the darkness. The top was like Piccadilly Circus on a bad day – a queue for the trig point, a queue for the loo, and such a queue for the café I gave up.

We headed down about 1, and the fog cleared. Then the views were lovely. We walked together, or in small groups, and had some good chats. More tea on the way down, and an enterprising person was selling ice lollies at the top of the road – they must have made a fortune.

Back down about 4.15 – with a sense of achievement. We ate cake! According to Strava I had walked 9.66 miles, ascended 2,975 feet, and descended 2,978 feet (my car must have sunk!). The mountain is 3,283 feet high.

The others were making a weekend of it and doing the world’s longest zip wire tomorrow – what a shame I have to work on a Sunday. I wandered back to the car, and a chap waved at me as I left the car park. I could hear a funny sound, stopped in a laybye just outside the village, and found that my rear passenger side tower was shredded. I phoned Green Flag at 1705, Nicole was lovely and efficient, I was collected by Gwalia Recovery before 1800, taken to Caernarvon, a new tyre was fitted (I snoozed), and I drove home. When I sorted the money out later in the month I had raised over £1,000 before gift aid. Chuffed! If you wish to make a donation to the BHF, please do – website.

I will quietly hide the fact that I only walked 33 miles in June – so now I’m 221 down (if I’m aiming for 1,000 miles).



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Grindleford, Derbyshire – St Helen

On my Baslow-Grindleford circular walk, see the last blog, I stopped at St Helen’s church – SK 246779. It is one of the churches open on the Peak Pilgrimage – website – with a welcomed loo. It is also on the Derbyshire churches website.

The church was started about 1910, and was going to be a large Gothic revival church. The chancel was finished, the First World War intervened, and the rest was never completed. The guide leaflet says it “would have been a fine building. It would also have been expensive to maintain and difficult to heat.” It’s a nice Lady Chapel – the architects were “Sutton and Gregory” says derbyshirechurches – but I have no idea who they were. The nave and entrance were added later.

They have got a building that is probably the right size. It is open and welcoming, can be used for exhibitions, concerts and meetings. I am not sure about the cross design on the pulpit fall and altar cloths – I think the design is too cluttered.

The glass is by Arthur Anselm Orr, and there are some lovely photos here. There are a few references to him on line, but nothing that tells me much about him without subscribing or digging a lot deeper.

Grindleford Community Shop is in the church vestry – and they do not close at 5. I appreciated tea and cake, and a nice welcome. Go and say Hello.


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Derwent Valley Heritage Way 3 – Grindleford to Baslow

I walked the first 5 miles of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way on Monday 1 August 2016, and the second 3 on Tuesday 25 April 2017 – if you want to find them on northernvicar, click on Derwent Walk on the right hand side of this screen. On Wednesday 30 May 2018 I drove to Baslow and parked by the Village Hall – SK 258722 – with the plan of walking a circle – the return leg being along the Heritage Way. A rather damp and foggy afternoon, but honeysuckle lifted the spirits. Up through the village and then up to Wellington’s Monument – 417 feet in the first mile. Enjoy the blossom and the buttercups. I enjoyed the bench.

The Wellington Monument was provided by Lt Col Dr E.M. Wrench of Baslow in 1866, in memory of F.M. Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. There is an earlier Nelson Monument a couple of miles to the east. There is information about both here. Then I walked along Baslow Edge, across the road, and along Curbar Edge. It’s a ridge of gritstone, and the views would normally be lovely.

I crossed the A625 and went down through The Haywood to Grindleford church – SK 246779 – I’ll blog this as the next one. Part of this route is the Peak Pilgrimage – website – perhaps I’ll do that when I finish this Walk (at this rate the Second Coming will come first). Grindleford Community Shop is in the church vestry – and they do not close at 5. I appreciated tea and cake, and the loo.

I joined the Heritage Way by this wonderful signpost, and walked on the east side of the River Derwent through Horse Hay Coppice and Froggatt Wood into Froggatt itself. A Grade II C17 bridge.

Then on the west side of the river and along to Curbar, crossing the A625 again at Froggatt New Bridge. There is a display board advertising the Culver Weir project – with audio trails and all sorts of material on their website, but I can’t get it to work. Another case of money (I wonder how much money?) spent on digitisation and websites that, after a few years, seem to die (or at least get very ill). At least a book can be safely stored away, easily accessible. I found this website which says that the records are stored in Calver and at the County Record Office, and you can watch one of the youtube videos here. Then going onto youtube there are a selection of other videos – search for “Calver Weir”.

The Listing website says the “Calver weir, goit and the water management system [are] associated with Calver Mill. The mill itself is a Grade II listed building. The existing mill building represents the latest phase of the cotton mill but earlier mill buildings on the site are documented and mapped from at least 1752. The weir is situated in the River Derwent approximately three quarters of a kilometre downstream from the mill – [I wish Heritage England would use English miles]. The goit (water channel) runs almost parallel to the Derwent from New Bridge in the north, to the wheel house in the south. The weir was built in the first half of the 19th century by the family of Sir William Heygate, to serve Calver cotton mill. It is built of large squared grit stone blocks and forms an elongated reversed S, a shape designed to minimise the impact of flood waters. This weir replaced an earlier one close to the current site. A retaining wall, also of gritstone blocks, survives along the western bank of the river and would have served to prevent the erosion of the bank from the water as it flowed, at an angle, from the weir. … The goit provided a managed flow of water that enabled the amount of water which reached the mill wheel to be controlled, reducing the impact of flooding on the operation of the mill. The original goit appears to have been cut sometime between 1799 and 1804. … Map evidence shows clearly the changes in the water management system over time.” To be honest you can’t see much of this as you walk along, and visitors are not welcome at Calver Mill. Searching for photos, I found a collection of John Piper photos, now in the Tate – website. Before I got to Calver Mill (which is just across the river from Curbar) I passed through Stocking Farm Caravan site – I do find these sites unattractive. The loo block had a notice pointing out it is only for people staying there – what a different attitude to the church at Grindleford – and the old barn was once used for worship.

There is an underpass under the A623, then the last bit across fields brought me to the attention of the cows. I talked to them as I walked. Into Baslow, over the bridge – Grade I, 1608 – passed the church (already blogged), and back to the car. A 10 mile walk – 4 of them along the Derwent Valley Walk.



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Nottinghamshire – Papplewick Pumping Station

Papplewick Pumping Station is one of those places I have meant to visit for years. It is just north of Nottingham – SK 584521, website. We drove over on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon 28 May with a little bit of muttering from the Boss about why we were going to a pumping station she wouldn’t be able to get her wheelchair in.

Disabled parking, easy access into the Superintendent’s House and the displays there, then flat access to the rest of the site. As Nottingham grew the new for water and decent sanitation grew as well. In 1845 the various small local water companies joined together to form the Nottingham Waterworks Company, with Thomas Hawksley as their Engineer (he deserves a capital E). He was also Engineer to the Gas Company, then moved to London in 1852 and practised as a Civil Engineer. There is a page about him here, apparently 30 British towns, and several more abroad, have him to thank for their water supply. He built a reservoir here in 1879, then Marriott Ogle Tarbotton, Nottingham’s Borough Surveyor from 1859, became Waterworks Engineer in 1880 and supervised the building of this pumping station – website. This part of Nottinghamshire is situated over Bunter sandstone (I think Lord Peter Wimsey) which acts like a giant sponge, soaking up, storing and naturally filtering impurities from the water.

We started with a WW1 encampment. We had a fascinating chat to the girls and to the Padre. I had a phone call from one of next year’s brides and was my normal lovely self – I did feel I couldn’t moan about brides who phone on a bank holiday Monday afternoon while I was talking to a man who served in the trenches. They had some interesting material on display as well.

The Boiler Room is quite amazing – six boilers. Three were needed when the station was working, now one is fired – about 6 tons of coal a day. 29 feet long, 7 feet in diameter, each holding 3,200 gallons of water.

We walked past the greenhouse, buying some plants – the trouble with buying plants is that you then need to plant them!

Julie sat in the sun and I went into the Pumping Station itself (this bit wasn’t accessible, which is a shame (though though it is understandable)). The phrase “Civic Pride” springs to mind – the days when local government was something to be proud of (not something to be derided and cut).  If you want to work out which bit is which, look at their website – just feast your eyes on this riot of colour and water imagery. (Whenever I go and do a baptism visit I say to the families that the Prayer over the Water has every piece of water imagery they could find in the bible – I think the compilers were influenced by Papplewick).

“So, Mr Tarbotton, tell me again why your pumping station needs stained glass windows?”

The Beam Floor at the top, where you can watch the stately progress of the beams, up and down, almost mesmerising. (As a child we used to visit Stretham Old Engine in Cambridge – which I see is open when we’re on holiday nearby in July).

Then we had a walk round the Cooling Pool. They needed a supply of cold water to condense the steam in the Engine House, and the warm water needs return somewhere to cool. The central fountain has a separate water supply and is used to top up the water level of the pool. The model engineers were having fun sailing their boats (and vacuum cleaners).  We also enjoyed the other displays, places to buy things (too many second-hand dvds), and café.

Finally I left Julie to watch the WW1 folk while I went for a bus ride to the Reservoir. The website tells me that about the bus that takes me there, but doesn’t tell me about the reservoir except that it dates to 1879. The guide told us how many million bricks, how many gallons – but I didn’t write it down. It cracked after only a few years of use – and we had an interesting debate about what you can do with it now it no longer holds water. The atmosphere was incredible. The chimney is in the distance on the top photo, you realise quite how far ‘up’ you have driven.

It was a smashing afternoon – we’ll be back!


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Northernvicar walks – Three Northern Cities, May 2018

1 – Derby. Julie and I voted, then went up into Allestree Park. There is a hard-surfaced track which the buggy can cope with. We enjoyed the bluebells.

2 – Sheffield. Friday 11 May and I had to give platelets. It is the same fare to Meadowhall as to Sheffield, so I walked down the River Don from there – 6 miles into the centre of town. (I did the first part of this walk a few months ago, but had to jump on a bus to get to platelets on time). Some good wildlife, Great Central viaduct and yards, river sculptures – website – a mixture of buildings, and the fountains outside the station. The Blue Loop -well cared for, and a good website.

3 – Leeds. Tuesday 22 May, a day trip to Leeds to meet the Ecumenical Officer for the CE. I got an early cheap train (I’m saving the Diocese money) and had an opportunity for a 3 mile walk. It is a fascinating city centre. I left through the new station exit, and walked along the canal The County Arcade is featured on this blog. The first statue is the Briggate Minerva, by Andy Scott, 2013. I listened to the owl tell me his observations on life – you can phone him up. The second ‘The Human Spirit’ by Faith Babbington is outside the Nuffield Hospital and was installed in 2002.

A useful day – and a good lunch – then I went out west along the Leeds and Liverpool canal. It would be a great walk to keep going. I went as far as the new Kirkstall Forge station, about 5 miles.

I debated returning to Leeds via Bradford or Ilkley, but decided to return and have another walk and wander, 2 miles. Found Leeds Parish Church, which needs a proper visit sometime. A through train home – the Leeds-Nottingham service took me back to Alfreton.

I walked 76 miles in May.



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Northernvicar walks – a Corbridge circle, 16 May 2018

I had a day to myself, so drove across to Corbridge and parked in the village car park. I had picked up a leaflet for a 10 mile walk up to the Wall and back – a Corbridge Heritage Trail. I crossed the Tyne, went up through the village, past a North Eastern Railway bench.

I went and explored some fascinating bottle kilns, part of Walker’s Pottery, which operated through the C19, through until 1910. The kilns are approximately 14 metres high and 10 metres in diameter at their base, although tapering to a narrow hole of 2 metres diameter at their apex and are entirely constructed of corbelled brickwork. Now there are some interesting plans to make them into holiday cottages – see here.

I went under the bypass, then along to Aydon Castle. I didn’t expect it to be open, and was very glad it was – I needed a tea. There isn’t a lot in the castle, and it makes you wonder how English Heritage can afford to keep it open and staffed – website.

I continued up to Halton, called in at the church, then sat on a bench for a sandwich. You can find Halton on this blog.

Then up to the Wall at Onnum fort, and turn left along it. The old garage complex by the Errington Arms is still empty, though the pub was serving. On another two fields, then down through Portgate Farm. Down to Stagshawbank Burn, and across to the A68. This area was the venue for Stagshaw Bank Fair every year. Thousands would gather to buy and sell horses, sheep and cattle. The Science Museum has an 1846 poster for extra trains run by the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway – catalogue. I called the picture below “The Power and the Glory”. I crossed the A68 by the old pub, then a gorgeous path down to Leazes Lane, through a ford, and back under the bypass. There’s a path to the Middle School across a field of ridge and furrow – where they seem to want to build 185 houses.


I called in at St Andrew’s church – blog – which was stuffed full of flowers – it had obviously been some wedding. The Vicar’s Pele is now a micro-brewery! Back to the car – 10 miles walked.


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Northernvicar walks – Northumberland, May 2018

Julie and I had a week in Northumberland in the middle of May. We went chased across Gosforth park by a young lady I married a couple of years ago, spent too much at Cogito Books in Hexham – website – visited the refurbished museum at Corbridge, visited the Sill, dined out with friends (and children), and admired Harry and Sarah’s allotment (when did I become so old my kids have an allotment?). We stayed at the lovely “Cottage at Longridge”, just outside Morpeth – Sykes cottages website – and had stunning weather. I also managed some walks.

On Sunday 13 May after taking the service at Milbourne we drove into Newcastle and I then left Julie, Harry and Sarah to shop, while I went for a walk. Over the Stephenson High Level bridge – why is it that we will spend several million on a refurbishment about 10 years ago, but not spend a bit on keeping it cleaned and painting out the graffiti? Under the Tyne Bridge approach and through the Sage, then back over the Millennium Bridge before following the Tyne as far as the Ouseburn. I followed that river upstream – past Seven Stories, and into Jesmond Dene. Past Jesmond Dene House and along to the Metro at Ilford Road. Back into town, and met the others. 6 miles walked (and a ride on the Metro!).

On Monday I went for an evening walk. Across to Hepscott, across the railway line (a freight only line), and up to the Wansbeck. Down through the bluebell woods to Bothal, over the river, and back to Morpeth through the woods on the north side (under the railway viaduct). It was beautiful. I stopped at Morrison’s for supplies, and then walked back along the road. It was a long way! 9 miles.

On Tuesday evening I drove over to Mitford and parked outside the church. I walked past the castle and down to the River Wansbeck. Under the A1, and continuing along the river to the outskirts of Morpeth. Then, staying on the south of the river, I walked up into Arty’s Dell, and along through the bluebell woods, back under the A1, and to the car. 6 miles. It was gorgeous.

On Thursday I walked 4 miles round the lovely National Trust estate at Wallington – website. I thought I knew the estate quite well – I don’t. The cafe is good too!







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Yorkshire – Mount Grace Priory

We’ve been in Northumberland for a week – the churches I visited I have been to before, but I had some lovely walks which I’ll blog next. On the way home (on Friday 18 May 2018) we stopped at Mount Grace Priory, which is an English Heritage property I hadn’t been to for years – website. It is at SE 449984, just off the A19 – it is much easier to get to when you are heading south. They now have a nice café, although it was all very busy when we visited.

We walked up to the House, which was created in the C17 from the remains of the Priory guest house. It was refurbished at the end of the C19 by the industrialist Sir Lowthian Bell, who was a supporter of the Arts and Crafts movement. Some nice rooms, and a display about the history of the site (sadly the display is upstairs which meant Julie (in a wheelchair) couldn’t get to it). An interesting model of the Priory when fully occupied.

The Priory was a Charterhouse, a Carthusian priory, built on the main road from York to Durham (at least in those days they didn’t have to turn right across a dual carriageway going in that direction). The Carthusians began in 1084 when St Bruno Hartenfaust, a canon and later chancellor of Reims in northern France rejected  what he deemed a corrupt church. By 1117 it had become a new monastic order. They arrived in England under Henry II (reigned 1154-89) who brought them here as part of his penance after the murder of Thomas Becket. They had a more austere life than many monks, and it took a while to catch on – the Black Death (1348-9) and plague of 1362 drew a demoralized population to them. The London Charterhouse was founded in 1371, and Mount Grace in 1398. It tended to attract literate monks from the upper orders of society and, as you can see from the model, they did not live in large dormitories, but in smaller houses – more of this later. The Priory had quite a precarious existence for the first century of his life, but by 1535 it had an income of over £300 a year, about the same as Rievaulx Abbey. But in 1534 the order refused to accept the Act of Succession, by which Henry VIII legitimized his second marriage (whatever the Pope said). The prior of the London house was executed in 1535. The prior of Mount Grace accepted the Act, but it didn’t do them much good. The general suppression of the English monasteries began in 1536, and Mount Grace was closed in 1539. The prior got a pension of £60 a year, and a property in Osmotherley, just down the road. Once closed, the movable possessions were sold and the priory partially demolished. Some monks just took their stuff with them, but in the garden of Cell 8 they found a pile of broken pottery which looked as if the departing monk had chucked them all against the wall in a fit of anger (and who can blame him). It sometimes seems amazing that anything is left.

Because the Carthusians said most of the daily officers in their cells, the church is not on the scale we expect in a monastery. Originally it was 27 metres long and 8 metres wide, monks in the eastern bays, lay brothers to the west. It was rebuilt in 1415 by Thomas Beaufort, grandson of a king (Henry IV) uncle to the future king (Henry V), and half-brother to the one after that (Henry VI) – he had been given permission to be buried there, so needed to make it good.

In this photo you can see a statue which I rather like – The Madonna of the Cross, by Malcolm Brocklesby. I can do no better than quote his words: “This Madonna is not the meek and subservient figure portrayed in so many paintings, but a determined and intelligent young woman who understands the wonder and the importance of her calling as she dedicates her Child to the purpose of the Creator. She is also aware of the suffering that this will entail. The figure of the Madonna is integral with that of the Cross, the stark and terrible symbol at the heart of Christianity, which is an inescapable part of her existence. Her expression, however, is more of serenity than anguish. She is looking beyond Calvary to the Resurrection, and the way in which she holds the Christ Child high suggests the subsequent Ascension rather than the immediate prospect of a sacrificial death. The statue combines the three facets of Christianity which establish the Atonement of Mankind – the Nativity, the Crucifixion and the Ascension.” (Malcolm Brocklesby, 1996)

Reading his obituary – here – it turns out he was a mining engineer. One of his very thought-provoking works is in Bradford’s Peace Museum – see their blog.

There are 15 cells – each with a living room (with fireplace), bedroom and oratory, and study. All have windows looking onto the garden at the back of the cell. The rebuilt one seems very pleasant – but I would not survive the silence, the solitude, when even your food was passed through in silence. They said two of the seven daily offices together, and only ate in the Refectory on Sundays and Feast Days. It was a vegetarian diet (plus fish). Each cell did have a latrine over a running stream – so not all bad! Prayer and work is all very well, but I would miss the company.





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Astley, Warwickshire – St Mary the Virgin

On Bank Holiday Monday 7 May 2018 we drove south to Astley Book Farm, just outside Nuneaton. It was Julie-friendly, and had a good café – website.

Then we stopped at St Mary the Virgin, Astley, and went for an explore – SP 311894. There is a good description and lots of photos at the Nuneaton and North Warwickshire Family History Society site. I have found the church’s facebook page – but not a website for them.

When we parked I saw a sign to the castle and wandered there before visiting the church. I found Landmark Trust holiday cottage (“cottage” is not the best word) and it looked fascinating. Searching the web later – here is the site for the cottage itself, and here is a discussion on the BBC about the rebuilding. The castle dates back to Saxon times, and was owned by the Grey family from 1420 to 1600. Elizabeth Woodville owned the castle with her husband Sir John Grey. He died fighting for the Lancastrians in the War of the Roses. She married Edward IV. Their daughter, Elizabeth of York, became Astley’s second queen through her marriage to Henry VII. Their great-granddaughter, Lady Jane Grey, was the third queen – for just nine days. The castle burned down in 1978, and, a couple of decades later, the Landmark Trust built a new house in the ruins. It look rather wonderful!

Having not disturbed the people on holiday, I walked across to the church – with a gorgeous cherry tree in full bloom. Before Domesday a great noble, whose name was Alsi, held the hamlet of Easteua and the forest around it. The church was certainly here by 1285, because a priest was appointed in that year. In 1343 Sir Thomas Astley built the church we see. He called it “my fair and beautiful Collegiate church”. The central tower had a lead covered spire, and a light was maintained here – ‘The Lantern of Arden’ to guide travellers through the thick forest (if the forest was that thick, would the light have been seen?). The spire fell in 1600, the nave was shortened, monumental chapels went – but Sir Richard Chamberlayne, owner of the castle at the time, started the process of rebuilding. I wandered round the outside, said Hello to Joseph Bond of this parish, admired the carving, and entered under a lamp that would not be out of place on a British Rail station of the 1970s.

There was a nice welcome inside. One chap was cleaning the brass and welcoming visitors. I found a Norman octagonal font, and alabaster figures of Sir Edward Grey, Lord Ferres of Groby, died 1457; his daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Talbot, wife of Sir Edward Grey who became Lord Lisle, died 1483; and Cecily Bonville, daughter of Lord Bonneville Harrington, 2nd wife of Thomas Grey, the first Marquess of Dorset, died 1529. They were originally in the Nave, but placed in their present position at the end of the C19. We should also mention that also in the C19, Robert Evans married his second wife Christiana. Their third child, Mary Ann, is the author George Eliot – her Scenes from Clerical Life has Astley as the fictional village of Knebley.

Looking west, you can see the height of the tower. Walking along the Nave you can enjoy nine early C17, post-Reformation, wall paintings. We’ve sometimes found pre-Reformation wall paintings which have survived under whitewash for several centuries, but we rarely see post-Reformation ones – seven biblical passages, plus the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

Also fascinating are the choir stalls – 18 of the original 24 which used to be at the west end of the Collegiate Quire (chancel). They may well date to the second half of the C14. The lower section with wonderful misericords are probably a little earlier than the canopy with its carving. The painted figures represent the Apostles on the north side, and the Prophets on the south. The scrolls were painted in 1624.

Moving into the Chancel, the Chancel arch is worth looking up at, as are the ceilings – while the black and white floor tiles were mentioned by George Eliot. The woodwork is rather nice, the altar table was probably adapted from the C17 draw leaf table, and the Triptych is C17 Flemish, the artist is unknown. You can see Mary Magdalene with her box of ointment, and Joseph of Arimathea holding the crown of thorns. Golgotha, and the garden tomb. It was presented to the church by Sir Francis Newdegate in 1905. I was a little confused, as sometimes the guidebook calls him Newdigate, sometimes Newdegate – both are right. Have a read of – he sounds fascinating!  He also presented the Venetia lamps, yes, they are State Gondola Lanterns, engraved with the lion of St Mark. (I am imagining the conversation on the DAC – “Petition: to install two Venetian gondola lamps”).

This is a fascinating church – and one I found by chance. Thanks so much for polishing the brass and being open. Let’s end with some of the memorials, and the huge tower.



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Northernvicar walks – January, February, March and April 2018

I had planned to walk 1,000 miles in 2017, but only managed to be a Proclaimer. I won’t manage 1,000 miles in 2018 either, but I’ll let you know how I do. In January I managed 25 miles. On 2 January Alex and I went to Hull – we walked from Cottingham station to the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull for a splendid exhibition of the works of Terence Cuneo. You could get up really close to the paintings, no one minded me taking photos (so I hope no one will mind if I post a couple), and there is a small permanent gallery there too with some lovely work. These two paintings are “Departure of HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh from the Corporation Pier, Kingston upon Hull, for the State Visit to Denmark, 1957.” They were en route to the Britannia. The picture is owned by Hull City Council. “Track Laying by Night, 1950” was sketched at Wandsworth Common, and was described by Cuneo as “the most chaotic” of his railway commissions.

I started February with a day in London. I walked four miles from Euston to Victoria, past the wonderful Oxford Circus Underground station, met Claire and we went to St Paul’s. You can’t photo inside – so you didn’t get a blog – but we enjoyed the views. We then did another 9 miles across the Millennium Bridge and all the way along the river back to Victoria.

I managed five miles in Nottingham on Saturday 10 February while Julie enjoyed Waterstone’s – I decided they fly the flag on Nottingham Castle when Maid Marion is in residence. On Sunday 11 we went to the Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, and enjoyed their new wheelchair lift – well done them! (Thanks to Kevin for the photo)

We went to the Church Times Bloxham Book Festival for a weekend in February. We had a Friday at Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House en route – two lovely NT properties (I blogged the church at Baddesley last time I visited). Baddesley has an excellent second hand bookshop – they had a 1660ish Prayer Book from Ashchurch – as that’s another NT property, I suggested they should pass it on. I had a five mile walk along the canal from Packwood.#

Between some excellent talks, I did another five miles from Bloxham on Saturday (I blogged that church two years ago), and then seven miles along the Oxford Canal on Sunday. Superb advert on a roundabout in Banbury.

On Saturday 24 February I walked down to Duffield, then had a train ride up the Ecclesbourne line to Wirksworth (Iris is a lovely unit) – so that as 69 miles in February.

I only managed 10 miles in March, so we’ll draw a veil over that. We did manage a trip to Nottingham Castle where they have some beautiful alabasters (let’s hope they display them better after the forthcoming refurbishment).

April was 62 miles. Most were local, some have been vaguely blogged along with their churches. One needs a mention of its own – on Thursday 12 I walked a few miles along Manchester canals, had a ride on the new Ordsall Curve, then a walk under the Dinting Viaduct.  It was first opened in 1844 by the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester – on their Woodhead route over the Pennines. Originally it had laminated timber arches – presumably like the ones Carmichael painted in the North East. In 1859 wrought iron girders were installed. The brick pillars were added 1918-20, more work was carried out in the 1950s when the line was electrified, then another £6 million was spent in 2012.

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