“It’s not all about old trams”
That was the introduction on a recent visit to Crich Tramway Village. And they are right. Whilst there is a lot to see if you are engineering minded there is also lots to see and do if you are not!
History and background
The tramways had been declining for decades but enthusiasts around the country had made sure that at least some trams were kept from the scrap yards. But what to do with all these old trams accumulating around the country?
Crich Tramway Village came about after a chance encounter by a tram enthusiast at the site of a disused limestone quarry in the heart of Derbyshire. The quarry, owned by the Stephenson family (of “Stephenson’s Rocket” fame) had its own narrow gauge track that had been used to transport quarried limestone to Ambergate for onward transportation. With the demise of the quarry shortly after the second world war, the family sold the track to a company in Wales. One of the engineers who came to dismantle the track saw the potential, a mile of track was saved at Crich and the Village was born.
So what is at Crich?
- A mile of track that a few of the operational trams trundle up and down, giving the visitors a glimpse of what travelling around by tram might have been like in their heyday
- A fleet of 70 trams, of which 30 are operational
- Internationally renown workshops that you can overlook. See trams being rebuilt and serviced
- Exhibition areas
- Half a mile of woodland walk (no trams at all) complete with fantastical wooden sculptures
- A new adventure playground and indoor soft play area
- The opportunity to have a pie and pint lunch in the Red Lion pub, a tea room and ice cream parlour
Crich is both dog and family friendly. They also have one tram that is fully accessible by wheelchair.
Watch out for special events during the 2016 season including a full week of 1940s nostalgia in August.
Despite the continual stream of storms that seem to be lashing our shores at the moment we are looking forward to the summer. The Peak District National Park have, for the first time, organised a fund raiser to support the maintenance of the traffic free trails that criss-cross the National Park.
There are 34 miles on 4 distinct trails in the National Park; Monsal Trail; Tissington Trail; High Peak Trail; and Thornhill Trail.
The four separate trails were all former railway lines so all provide excellent recreational and accessible routes through the countryside for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. There are some breathtaking views from parts of the trails, tunnels that bypass the hills and numerous information points that show the history, geology and natural history of the trails.
Each metre of trail costs £5 to maintain. Maintaining the structures, bridges and tunnels along the trail is an additional cost, another £2.5m over the next six years! With decreasing central government funding the National Park Authority have organised a fabulous weekend fund raiser.
On weekend of the 19-21 August there will be lots of fun family friendly activities taking place in Bakewell. On Saturday 20 August there will a choice of three great evening walks which you can register to take part in. The registration fee and any sponsorship that you raise will be used in the maintenance of these much-loved trails
Eyam Hall is a small Jacobean style manor built and lived in by the Wright family for nine generations. After the owners decision to retire three years ago the National Trust have leased and run this fascinating property.
Eyam is famous for its role in the late 17th-century plague where the villagers quarantined themselves in order to stop the deadly disease spreading. The Hall was built just a few years later so you’ll find no mention of the plague in the Hall. The Hall has been adapted, modernised and renovated over the years to accommodate the families needs. The underlying spirit of the Hall remains undiminished, however, and it requires little imagination to transport yourself back across the years.
Some of the Hall’s residents and visitors could not resist leaving their marks by way of etching poetry on the window panes. I’m not sure what we would make of such “graffiti” today!
On a guided tour you will hear the stories of the etchings, how the Hall almost left the family and how, by chance, it came back to the right lineage. You will see a fabulous collection of furniture, family portraits and artifacts, all of which seem to have a story attached.
The Hall is open from 2nd December until the 20th December and is beautifully decorated with Christmas decorations from different eras. The Hall will then be closed for winter maintenance and re-opened in mid-February 2016
It is 50 years ago this week since the opening of the Pennine Way, the 268 mile grandad of long distance paths in Britain. The route runs from Kirk Yetholm in Northumberland to Edale along what has become known as the backbone of England.
The route was conceived back in the 1930s by journalist and rambler, Tom Stephenson who was inspired by the long distance trails of the United States. It was to take 30 years, however, to see the dream become a reality.
It is estimated that quarter of a million people use at least part of the trail every year. This number of people obviously has a big impact on the trail itself so many sections have to be actively managed with flagstones and duckboards.
If you wish to complete the walk you can expect to cross more than 430 stone and wooden stiles, open and close in the region of 280 gates and cross 200 bridges! There will be more than 450 route marks to ensure you stay on the right path.
I remember being inspired to complete the long distance route when just a child – not that I have actually done it!
Birthday celebrations are taking place this weekend with more than 50 circular walks taking in the majority of the long distance route. Closest to us, celebrations take place in Edale from Friday 24th April until Sunday 26th.
….does not a summer make" said Aristotle – that’s as maybe but this morning I have seen the first swallow of 2015 and it definitely feels like summer is on the way. It is a mesmerising sight to watch the swallows swoop low across the fields gathering up insects for food.
Every year these amazing little birds make the journey from southern Africa, across the Sahara to breed in the northern hemisphere. They return to the exact same nesting sites year after year.
It is said that the swallow’s forked tail comes after an angry God threw a firebrand at a swallow that was stealing fire for the people. As it flew away the firebrand burned away the middle feathers of the swallow’s tail. The real reason is much more mundane in that having a fork in the tail increases the efficiency of flight.
For a few weeks now, the curlews have been seen and audible over the fields locally. I always think that they look rather out of place with their long, slightly curved bills, much suited to feeding in soft sands and muds of the coast. They really do grace us with their presence.
They can feed successfully on insects in the shorter grazed grass of managed farmland, especially if the ground is slightly boggy.
Quite often you can hear them without seeing them. They make a very distinctive plaintive sound from which the bird gets its name.
They choose to breed in inland areas. They build their nests on the ground, primarily on moorland. For that reason, if you are out in the summer walking your dog on the moors, please do keep it on a lead.
Another migratory bird that visits for just a few months before returning to northern Africa is the Ring Ouzel. It looks very like a blackbird but has a tell tale white band across its chest.
The name “Ouzel” comes from old English and means “common blackbird”. The Ouzel is very shy of humans, unlike the blackbird, which probably explains its now relative rarity.
It also looks similar to a dipper but is unrelated to it. You will sometimes hear of the dipper being referred to as a water ouzel
The Ring Ouzel feeds on worms and insects and on berries in the autumn.
Like the curlew, it also nests on moorland, under heather or bracken.
Unfortunately, numbers in the Peak District are declining so this is the bird that you will have to work the hardest to spot.