May 11, 2010


There are many peculiar buildings or structures in Derbyshire. Crich Stand is one of them.

It is actually a lighthouse, built on a hill above the village of Crich. The light from the tower sweeps over the surrounding villages at night.

Crich is a pretty village of stone houses, typical of many of the villages around where I lived as a child. Back then I took it all for granted and it never occurred to me that one day these places would become popular with tourists and holidaymakers. I do remember vaguely walking up to the tower with my parents and grandmother and having a picnic on the grass. You are not allowed to do that now. The view over Derbyshire from the tower is superb.

The structure is actually a war memorial, built in 1923 to honour those from the local regiment, the Sherwood Foresters, who fell in the Great War, then later also dedicated to those lost in the Second World War and other conflicts since.

The name Crich is often pronounced incorrectly by those who don't know the area. It makes me chuckle when you hear it on the news, pronounced as if it were "critch". The correct way is to pronounce the "i" as if it were "eye".

Crich has another popular attraction, the tram museum. I always wanted an excuse for another ride on the lovely old trams - maybe later this summer !

May 7, 2010


I could have started my new blog with a post about one of the more famous and glamorous houses in Derbyshire; Chatsworth maybe, or Kedleston or Hardwick. These places are lavishly maintained and attract thousands of visitors every year.

Instead I decided to go with one that few people have heard of. It's a sad place, allowed to fall into ruin in the 2oth century. It attracts only a few visitors, there are no tearooms or gift shops and no-one there to collect an entrance fee.

It was built in 1724 for Nicholas, 4th Earl of Scarsdale and was sold to settle his debts. Two centuries later, its contents were stripped and sold to an American buyer in 1920. After that it was just left to decay, roofless. It is now in the care of English Heritage. It's style is reminiscent of Chatsworth, on a much smaller scale but I bet it was really something in its day.

It stands in a grand elevated position above a wide valley, across the other side of which is Bolsover Castle, also owned by English Heritage and which has been beautifully restored. There is no chance of that for Scarsdale as it is too far gone I fear. Even so, it is a lovely place to visit and wander round inside and out, imagining how life was when it was in its heyday.

The M1 motorway slices along the bottom of the valley between the two great houses. You can see Scarsdale from the motorway and I often wondered what it was. It is only recently that I started to visit it regularly. Lulu and I usually have it all to ourselves and she loves sniffing around inside the ruins of the grand rooms and then running about outside where the gardens would have been.

Not that long ago I stood at the back of the house and watched the endless stream of huge lorries travelling north and south along the mile of the M1 that you can see from Scarsdale. I thought to myself how pointless they seemed, carting cheap foreign rubbish for our shopping centres and then going back for more. I wondered what the Earl of Scarsdale and his fine guests would have made of it if they could have joined me there in the afternoon sunshine.


Bolsover Castle

A while ago I decided that one day I would start a blog about Derbyshire. Today is the day.

The hills above Castleton in winter.

I was born and bred in a small Derbyshire village. As a teenager I thought life in my village was really boring and longed to move away. So I spent most of my twenties in Yorkshire, firstly in the city then in the countryside where I felt more comfortable. But not completely at home.

Ashover village.

After eight years away, I moved back to Derbyshire and I wondered why I had ever wanted to leave. Yorkshire is beautiful too, but for myself I much preferred the softness of the Derbyshire hills to the drama of the Yorkshire countryside and the grim greyness of its towns.

Near Milltown in the parish of Ashover.

So here I am with another excuse not to finish the ironing and to get out and about with my camera. I hope you like it.