Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Eyam dream.

Why that title ‘Eyam dream’? Well, it’s to demonstrate how to properly pronounce the name of the plague village. Some say ee-yum, some say eeee-yamm, but the residents pronounce it to rhyme with ‘dream;, so there you are.
Of course, being a walker and living in Bakewell for the past seven years, I’ve been to Eyam many, many times before. I thought I knew the story but after reading ‘Year of wonders’ by Geraldine Brooks (ISBN: 9781841154589), my interest was really fired up. It wasn’t a book I thought would be for me, but after Sue read it on holiday, she urged me to ‘give it a go’, and I’m really glad I did. Even if you’re not interested in the Eyam thing, it’s still a very good book.
Anyway, in a nutshell, Eyam is called the plague village because, in 1665 the plague was brought to Eyam from London in a roll of damp cloth by a tailor. The result was 260 people died, more than double the mortality rate in the capital. These people, through the leadership of a relatively young man called William Mompesson, cut themselves off from the outside world to suffer their fate without infecting the whole area around them (Bakewell being a very busy nearby market town).

This is the poignant picture on ‘Year of wonders’, depicting Elizabeth Hancock, who lost her husband and SIX children in the space of eight days!

As I said, we had visited Eyam many times, but this time we were determined to see all the high points mentioned in the book.
For all our visits, we had never visited Cucklet delph and the Cucklet ‘church’.
Through the gate, and back in time........

At the time we went, the wild garlic was in flower, and its heavy aroma filled the air in the delph.

At the top of the climb up the delph, we saw the sign to the ‘church’ where, after deciding the closeness of the village church was too dangerous, Mompesson took to preaching to his flock there, who were able to stand a ‘safe’ distance apart from each other to listen.

The sense of history and tragedy you get when you stand here in Mompesson’s footsteps is eerie.
To think, over 250 years ago, this one man was able to convince his flock to be so altruistic as to stay put while the plague raged among them.

His voice would ring through these rocks.
A memorial service is held here every year to remember the victims of the plague.

After exploring the ‘church’, we made our way to the village to see the real thing.
On the village green, the stocks still survive, albeit unused.

The beautiful stone troughs near the Eyam museum.

Again, passed many times, but never visited by us, the museum was next on the tick list.
The rat carried the plague fleas, and this is the wind vane on top of the museum alluding to that.

It really brings it home how very tragic this was when you see the names in list form – so LONG!

The Wilson family were particularly badly affected.

Not sure if I’d want to live here with this reputation and name hanging over the place.

Walking towards the church, we passed the ‘revolving, roasting jack’ that is part of Eyams tradition.
This is something I’ve never been to, but always wanted to.

The parish church at Eyam, dating back to circa 1150, an imposing structure.

The ‘plague window’, depicting scenes from the pestilence.

The actual record book with the hand written names of all the victims.

In the graveyard, this Saxon cross is famous as a good example.

I always love this Sun dial clock.

The grave of Mompesson's’ wife, Catherine.

A perfect view, looking back as we make our way to the Riley graves, where Elizabeth Hancock buried her family.

We noticed this ‘armoured car’ on the walk.

The rhododendrons were putting on a good show.

The wild flowers were too, not to be outdone.

People buried their dead where they could, the dignity of a church burial long since gone.

Across a stile, we could see the Riley graves (so called because that’s Riley house on the far side of the field, where Elizabeth Hancock lived).

Again, a solemn and eerie place.

Next we wanted to visit the Mompesson’s well, a short walk uphill and across town.

The views of the edges and Higger Tor were particularly good today.

Here it is, the well, where food and supplies were left.
The other drop-off place was the boundary stone above Stony Middleton.

Naturally, after the well, the boundary stone was next.
You can see the holes drilled in it for people to place their coins. The holes would be filled with vinegar to ‘disinfect’ them.
This system seemed to work, and kept the villagers supplied during their ordeal.

I’m sure THESE guys weren’t around during the time of the plague – llamas in a field.

A superb show of buttercups was also in evidence.

As it was ‘that time of the year’, we knew the orchids would be out in Cressbrook dale, so we capped off our day with a visit there.
We weren’t disappointed, it was, as usual here, a really good show.

You can read more on the Eyam museum website here;

Monday, 30 June 2014

Shelf-ish, and Overexposed.

OK, back to the Derbyshire hills! It's been a while since my last walking post (mainly because I've been concentrating on these pictures HERE

In 2011 (I was AMAZED that three years had elapsed since), Sue & I went on Bleaklow looking for the wreckage of a crashed American Superfortress aircraft called ‘overexposed’. The day was very cold, and light was at a premium. We failed that day (you can see the pictures HERE so today, with fair weather and lots of time, we decided to take another shot at it!
On the drive there, we stopped, and looking out across the moors, we spied Carl Wark and Higger tor, two other favourite places for this sort of clear day.

 Also, just before ‘Surprise view’ above Hathersage, the  unmistakable ‘Mother cap’ stone.

 The edges, big sighs from us – we actually LIVE here, and it’s wonderful to have all this on your doorstep.

 Well, who could ask for better, for a walk of ANY sort. We parked the car on the Snake pass where the Pennine way crosses, and looked over the beautiful (in this light) Shelf moor. These moors can be very bleak, cold and inhospitable (yes, even dangerous) in winter, but in Summer, they come alive!
With Curlew, skylark, Grouse etc calling as we walked, today was just perfect.

 The Pennine Way fingerpost points out across Shelf moor.

Early frogspawn dotted the acidic, brackish pools of water on the moors.

The ‘laid’ Pennine Way path. So many feet have caused erosion, so this sort of repair work is, like it or not, necessary.

We were on a mission!
Sue ticks off the miles as we began our search for the ill-fated aircraft, which came down in 1948.
You can read up far more extensively on it HERE 

Last time we came, we had a job to see much at all, but today was clear and bright. We realised that a glint we could see was the sunlight actually reflecting off parts of the wreckage!! This made our job FAR easier, and we headed off the path towards the light.
(Notice the little ‘Christmas tree’ – trees on the moor??? UNHEARD of!)

Not much life up here, apart from birds and frogspawn, BUT we were really lucky to catch sight of this lizard, camouflaged as he was.

The ubiquitous grouse, always calling us to; ‘GO BACK, GO BACK, GO BACK!’

 I tried to record the call HERE

This is why it’s often hard to navigate these moors (and easy to get lost).
The peat rises up and blocks any view or reference point.

All at once we saw it – lots of aircraft parts strewn over the landscape.

It was a sombre moment – to think that 13 young lives were lost on that bleak day.
If they had flown only a FEW FEET higher, they would have missed the crest of the moor.
Thirteen really WAS unlucky for them!

All around, people have fashioned stone crosses in memorial to the dead.

There’s a video of the site on YouTube HERE

You can see a couple of the crosses on the sides of the peat.

And this plaque tells the story.

Looking towards the trig’ point on Shelf moor.

The extensive wreckage covers a large area.

A section of the wing.

 A wheel.

The engines.

We left the wreck site and walked up to the trig’ point on Shelf moor.

That’s where we wanted to go next, higher shelf stones..

In the past, vandals (as that’s what they are) have carved names into the rocks of Shelf stones.

It was a gorgeous day, and we were lapping it up.
We sat on higher shelf stones for lunch, admiring the huge panorama, crystal clear today in these conditions.

Looking over to the Wain stones.

Looking back to the trig’ point (or ‘ordnance column’, as Wainwright always called them).

Sue posing on the sticky-out bits!

Lower shelf stones and the ‘doctors gate’ path in the valley below.

We could see Laddow rocks & Black Hill, looking north across the valley too.

Me, atop higher shelf stones.

We caught sight of a mountain hare, bereft of his winter coat now.
They turn pure white up here in winter for camouflage purposes. 

These rocks reminded me of the Moai statues of Easter island.
Not as many, but still impressive, and all done by mother nature.

The famous ‘kissing stones’ or Wain stones, to give them their proper name.
Panorama from shelf stones CLICK HERE 

Sue has a kiss.

Some people think that the Pennine way is all waymarked.
Well, it is in places, BUT – can YOU see the stone???
(I’ve placed an arrow to help you).

And so, we came to the end of the walk.
‘Mission accomplished’ – we’d found the wreck of ‘overexposed’, and felt vindicated from our previous unsuccessful foray.
Every cloud has a silver lining, eh?

Below is the harrowing story of the recovery operation.
BE WARNED - it is not for the fasint-hearted, BUT it does portray the extreme difficulty of such an operation at that time, and with antiquated equipment;
Click on each page to enlarge for reading.