Appleton, Norfolk – St Mary

We are in Norfolk – staying at Gayton. There are lots of churches in Norfolk, so I could blog to my heart’s content. I’ll start with a derelict one! On Sunday 8 July Julie wanted to visit the Lavender Farm at Heacham. Julie likes lavender. Peter knows when he is beaten. We drove north towards Sandringham, and saw a ruined church just off the B1440 on the right – grid ref TF 706273. It is next to Appleton Farm, and there were no display boards or information. I looked it up later. For any Norfolk or Suffolk churches you start with the work of Simon Knott – website. There were only 25 residents by the middle of the C18, and the church was in ruins long before that. The manor house had burned down in 1707. It is a round-towered church, and that probably dates to around 1000 AD, so early Saxon. Three graves – including one for Agnes Paston. I know there’s some Paston letters, and there’s details of this part of Norfolk history here.  How Agnes fits in, I have no idea. It felt a very peaceful place on a beautiful Sunday morning. (I liked the Lavender Farm too, but that’s another story).


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Heckington, Lincolnshire – Mill

Having been to the stunning church, we went to Heckington windmill – a unique eight-sail windmill beside the station, signal box and level crossing (though I still think the new H&S-complaint signal is hideous). The ‘box is 1876 Great Northern Railway, and Grade II listed – photos here.

We had visited the mill in the early 90s – while at Lincoln Theological College we purchased a Lincoln Mills Passport and visited them all. I believe my family were the first to get their silver Dusty Miller badge. I can’t find a photo of it, and I must have lost the original – apparently Sussex had one too. Gareth aged about 4, knew more about mills than most people – and I think it was here that he told the miller how his mill worked. The mill’s website is here.

The mill was originally built in 1830 by Edward Ingledew of Gainsborough as a five-sailed mill. A severe thunderstorm blew off the cap and sails, and it was restored in 1892 by John Pocklington using a cap and eight sails from a windmill in Boston. It would be fascinating to know how they moved everything. The bricks from the Boston mill were used to build the mill house here – now a lovely safe. It worked until 1946, and was purchased by the County Council in 1953 and made safe. It was restored in 1986 and worked for 13 years – during which time we visited. There were major repairs in 2004, and more were needed by 2010. In 2013 they got a £1.4 million HLF grant, and have done major work. Just a shame that high winds in June this year mean more work is needed on the sails before she can work properly again.

What they have done is superb. A good car park with gravel surface, but with the plastic grid that keeps the stones in one place and means you can push a wheelchair. Accessible loo. Accessible brewery – hence the accessible loo. Accessible tea room in Miller’s House (with another accessible loo). Accessible welcome area and shop, disabled lift to the exhibition, and access to the ground floor of the mill. Julie thinks it is the first time she has got into the ground floor of a mill in her wheelchair – Esmé also thinks it is the first time she has been onto the ground floor of the mill. We did wonder, the good ladies at reception and myself, whether we could utilise the sack hoist and get her to the top … .

I had a climb and a photo – just a shame I couldn’t get out the top. A good welcome – HLF money very well spent.



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Heckington, Lincolnshire – St Andrew (again)

Last time we visited Heckington church was 4 years ago – read my blog. When we called in then there was a good bookstall, so my wife was happy. This time (Saturday 7 July 2018) Julie stayed in the car while I went to check – but they were preparing for a concert, so the books were packed away. I had a quick visit round the church – didn’t spend too long (one should not leave pets (or wives) in hot cars).

Last I time I commented they needed a new guidebook – they have a new guidebook. Rather than a tatty piece of A4 paper, they also have a colour A4 leaflet – I must do a new one for Allestree this summer. It felt like a church with a new lease of life – nice prayer corner in the North Transept, but who made the statue?

My only complaint is that the tatty leaflet told me there was a polar bear in the East Window – the new guide doesn’t. I found the polar bear! Top left of the Alpha and Omega, and note the Whale below him.

The window shows the Te Deum – “We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord. All the earth doth worship thee : the Father everlasting” – and the Benedicite – “O all ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord : praise him, and magnify him for ever.” In case you are wondering where polar bears and whales come in:

O ye Ice and Snow, bless ye the Lord …

O ye Whales, and all that move in the Waters, bless ye the Lord : praise him, and magnify him for ever.

Lots of lovely settings can be listened to on youtube. James Thomas’ Benedicite has been recorded by St Edmundsbury Cathedral choir on their CD This Holy Temple – details here.

Here are details from two other windows – The War Memorial Window, and the window in the South Transept which depicts the building of the church (you can see the complete windows on the previous blog). One job for this summer is to get Rob to teach me how to photo stained glass windows properly.

The church builders include Richard de Potesgrave (in purple robes). He was court cleric and Confessor to Kings Edward II and III, and came here as Rector in 1308. He probably built the chancel and sacristy at his own expense. He is explaining his plans to Henry Lord Beaumont (the gent with the Edwardian moustache), who was Lord of the Manor, and Henry’s sister Isabella de Vesei has the yellow headdress. Henry and Isabella were cousins of Edward II, she had been a Lady in Waiting to Queen Eleanor of Castile and Queen Isabella. The three of them were involved in building some of the nave and south transept. Edward III visited in 1330 – and would have seen something very similar to the church we see now.

I won’t describe the church again – but feast your eyes on the South Porch and the Easter Sepulchre – note the sleeping soldiers.

Now get ready for a trip to a disabled-accessible windmill. Julie, still reading in the car, did not realise the excitement in store.




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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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