Lumsdale Valley ruins

After a brief and beautiful losing of ourselves, we arrived exactly where we had been going — a series of two ponds in the Lumsdale Valley created to power the mills below, a centre of industry for several hundred years.

This whole area just south of the Peak District is a centre of industry, the springboard for the industrial revolution — though you would never guess now.

Cottages stand where an old lead smelter once sat, along with a counting house and ore house, from 1749 through the 1780s. One of the mills is perhaps from the 1600s, and a cycle of uses, from saw mill to paint mill to spinning and bleach — all of it happened in this stretch of buildings.

Starting with the old saw mill and moving through the valley — it no longer felt so important to recognise old uses, try to understand old processes and imagine what this scene looked like several hundred years ago:

Matlock Walk

Instead I wished I looked upon it with a practiced eye, so the layers of meaning and history could be sifted, brought forward in turn to form a whole. At no point in this place do you want to treat it as a museum. We didn’t linger long at the informative boards, and I am glad they remain few.

Matlock Walk

An early bleach trough, where they bleached skeins of yarn (and I imagine how toxic it all was, continues to be though you would never now guess):

Matlock Walk

This is never how I once imagined sedate English woods.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

An old square paint trough, I think, I am looking back now with charts at these pictures, they don’t quite match memory, but that is all right. To the left a tunnel that once led to a bridge across the stream. A curiosity now. A place to hide from other visitors and pretend they are not there.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

We wandered down the valley through one building and then another, alongside the stream for a while and the series of waterfalls that once brought power. It is hard, now, for me to imagine waterfalls as useful.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

The Bleach works, with an old millstone.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

The smithy:

Matlock Walk

I left the valley sadly. From there we climbed and lost ourselves again briefly through poor walk instructions, then wandered along the curve of a hill to looking back over Matlock from another angle:

Matlock Walk

Finally arriving at Starkholmes, and a well earned meal. And a cat.

Matlock Walk

then back down the hill to the bus, through a gimlet of holiday makers enjoying Matlock Bath. The Paignton of the North. Which I might ignore, but the country’s first pleasure parks were there? I meant to look into that a little more…

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