Wednesday, 12 November 2008

High Peak Trail

It was such a lovely day today, that Malcolm and I decided to have a short trip out to walk some of the High Peak Trail. We parked the car at the Black Rocks car park and took the westerly route along the trail, up to Middleton Top and beyond. The trail follows the old Cromford and High Peak Railway which was opened in 1830. Much more information HERE.The trail is crossed numerous times by other rail lines and roads and some of the bridges which were built to carry them are rather beautiful - in an 'industrial' sort of way!There are some steep inclines along the old railway line and these are hard enough to walk up so you can only imagine how difficult it was to get some of the old steam trains up them. The incline up to Middleton Top is particularly steep - about 1 in 8 - and was scaled with the aid of steam powered beam engines hauling wagons up the gradient. The Old engine house is still there with the old beam engine inside, although it was closed to visitors today. When you look behind the engine house with its impressive chimney, you can see the 'fire boxes' where the coal was burned to produce the steam to power the machinery. You then get a better idea of the enormous amount of power that was needed to drag these wagons up the hill. The wagons would have been chained to huge cables which acted like pulley wheels. Some of these can still be seen in the 'wheel pits' along the trail. It was while we were looking around these buildings that we found that we were being watched from the other side of the wall!These magnificent highland cattle seemed to thoroughly enjoying the sunshine, even if they were distinctly unimpressed by our attention.
The views across the valleys are wonderful from Middleton top. Here you can see over towards Matlock Bath - in the middle of this picture.Just above the white buildings in the foreground and to the right of Matlock Bath you could just pick out the remains of Riber Castle as you can see from this 'zoomed-in' picture.From here too you could see back to the Black Rocks near Cromford, where the car was parked. It's funny, when you stand on the top of Black Rocks, you feel like you are on top of the world, but seen from here, it doesn't seem so high.
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