Roachside Cottage

Part of the living landscape of the Roaches

Peak District National Park - Upper Hulme, Nr Leek ST13 8UB

On Saturday, we went to Alderley Edge (about 20 miles from Roachside), to the twice yearly open day at the Alderley Edge copper mines, hosted by the Derbishire Caving Club https://www.derbyscc.org.uk/ .

What a cracking day out!

The Alderley Edge mines in Cheshire, UK, were mined from the Bronze Age (c. 4000 years ago) until the early 20th century.

Many of the mines are owned by the National Trust and have been leased from them by the Derbyshire Caving Club which maintains access, and continues to explore and search for areas of mining that have been closed for centuries.

The DCC have spent decades making safe these workings and enabling countless archaeologists to determine the history of mining and mining technology.

Twice each year, the club holds an open weekend where members of the curious public are escorted into the old workings with a knowledgeable guide.

We crouch-walked in narrow tunnels, bumping our helmets on the rock above. We learned about fault lines, shot-drilling and black powder. We even learned about how some of the shafts had been used to dump household waste in the 1950’s – the refuse piles are still there, completely undisturbed.

More than anything we learned an appreciation of how horribly hard life must have been for the miners who spent their (frequently short) working lives in the suffocating darkness, with sudden death always a mere misstep away.

Even Scout was allowed to come along – though periodically she would look up at my face, topped by a strange helmet and headlamp, and give me the “are you sure this is the right way?” look!

Footnote:  Quite a paradox that Alderley Edge, now home to mega-wealthy football stars and the super-rich of the Northwest, was once populated by people who toiled beneath the earth for a pittance.

I wonder how many of the "glitterarti" have been down here? 

Having spent my entire life living in the North of England (well, sometimes it felt like I was living in a succession of Premier Inns during the later part of my working life), I’ve always been a bit mystified that some people, especially Southern people, regard August as High Summer.

For me, August is very much “back end”, everything we’ve managed to get to flower in the garden has done it’s thing and the blooms are now decaying and distinctly past their best. The endless evening light of June and July is a vanishing vision in the rear view mirror of another year passing. The warmth has gone from the morning and evening sun and when we wake in the morning, it’s still only half-light.

Thus it was this morning, the moon was still high and very visible in the sky when one of us poked a head out of the bedroom window. The valley floor below us was filled with a grey mist. There was the unmistakable smell of autumn on the still air …..and it was chilly. Very chilly! But it was also dry and the sky was promising some sunshine.

So it was, a good 4.5 mile walk after breakfast, followed by a litter-pick and down to Leek to get some food shopping done. The air warmed up nicely and it was a lovely day.

After unpacking the bags and stuffing the fridge, we decided to have a wander round Buxton Country Park for the last bit of the afternoon.

As I was ambling up to Solomon’s Temple, thinking deep thoughts and reflecting on the meaning of life, Scout was whizzing back and forth in the undergrowth either side the track – as she always is.

Then I noticed that she’d taken on a strange green, lumpy appearance. At first, I thought it was the dappled light coming through the trees, but no, she really had become green all over and not at all the sleek spaniel I’d come out with.

She was absolutely “caked” with bindweed seeds. Thousands and thousands of them, tangled deeply into her ginger coat and clumped like hedgehogs in her flappy ears.

As we walked, all those people who normally show signs of affection for this affable spaniel, stared and recoiled in horror as this hideous green, hairy lump shambled towards them.

It took a full hour with the wire grooming brushes (which oddly were in the back of the car), to tease out these hideous things. So, if you arrive on the car park at Pooles Cavern anytime soon and spot what looks like a circular brown/green doormat-like object on the floor, well, now you know……

 

It’s uncannily quiet here at Roachside just at the moment. The rumble of the fire tenders and emergency water tankers passing every few minutes through the last couple of days has stopped. There is no helicopter buzzing back and forth with water bag trailing beneath it and there are no cars parked along the road here, no visitors to The Roaches this weekend.

Where the ice cream van normally sells refreshment to thirsty walkers, there are a couple of fire engines parked and locked-up, their crews out on foot with beating poles and spades following the snow-tractor along the still smouldering edge of the moorland fire.

The view down from the trig point this morning, towards Shawside, was like looking into some post-apocalyptic battlefield, shrouded in smoke. The woodland above The Five Clouds is still burning – albeit now controlled and contained.

All of this is waiting for a decent downpour of rain. Man’s efforts, valiant as each fire fighter may be, impressive though the deployment of clever equipment is in controlling fire, are truly feeble in comparison to what a change in the weather can do.

Just as the hot, dry weather has much magnified the stupidity of a single person in creating such destruction.

Our sincere thanks go to the Firefighters of Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Services who have worked so well together to control and contain this blaze.

 

Thursday lunchtime and the fire has taken hold in the woods behind Roachside