Monday, 14 September 2015

Up to the Top

Continuing our trudge up the hill to Middleton Top, we eventually reached our goal and arrived at another of those engine houses.
This is the last surviving complete winding engine house and the building contains the two original beam engines built by the Butterley Company in 1829. Along with the tall chimney and two huge boilers, it makes an impressive sight even today.
Parked outside on a small section of track, an old and dilapidated piece of rolling stock still stands as a reminder of what was once a no doubt a very noisy, dirty and rather dangerous place to be.
Thankfully, things have changed somewhat since those industrial, far-off days and the area is now much more peaceful and altogether more attractive.
Heading down once more (a good deal easier than the climb up), we were again impressed by the views across the valley towards, in this case, the village of Riber and its imposing, hill-top castle.
You always assume castles to be ancient structures, with medieval battlements and knightly tales of derring-do. But in this case, nothing could be further from the truth as the 'castle' was built by one John Smedley in 1862 and is known locally as 'Smedley's Folly'. During its time, the building has been a home, a boys school, a storage facility for the Ministry of Defence and in later life, it was a zoo, specialising in exhibits of British wildlife (I seem to have a vague recollection of visiting the zoo as a child on a family holiday to the area. Little did I think then, that I would be living just a few miles away in later life). Today, it has been transformed into apartments and holiday accommodation. Here's a 'zoomed-in' picture...
And so it was back down to rejoin the Cromford Canal and to sit with a picnic and enjoy the antics of the ducks on the water, more of which tomorrow...
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