23 Apr 2015

Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire

Lately we've been making the most of the good weather. Although we've been happy to stay home and get on with the gardening it has also been good to go out for days and explore more places that we can get to in under an hour.  Derbyshire continues to draw us and the area around the famous 'plague village' of Eyam has been on a wish list for some time. It proved to be a good day, especially as we had a daughter and a grandson with us. I'll be writing about Eyam another time as just the two of us returned there yesterday to see those things we missed on the first visit.

Stoney Middleton is in the White Peak area of the Peak District in the limestone valley of Middleton Dale. Eyam is close by. Drivers pass through quite quickly because it's diffult to park on the main road due to parking restrictions. On the outskirts there's a towering cliff on one side and on the other there are woods and a brook which runs alongside the road. Remembering this from last week's drive we parked in a side street before we got to that point. From there we were able to walk around this very picturesque and interesting village which has close links with Eyam as I found out from reading the moving stories about the people who lived there. The Eyam villagers were in self-quarantine to stop the bubonic plague spreading to the surrounding villages. It had been brought in through some flea-infested cloth that had been transported up from London to the local tailor. As a consequence, from the outbreak in 1665 and for about fourteen months, whole households were stricken with the infection with the loss of over 200 lives. During this time the villagers of Stoney Middleton would leave food at certain spots on the border between the two villages.  



The outskirts of Stoney Middleton - travelling towards Eyam (yesterday) and below travelling in the opposite direction back from Eyam (last Thursday).



I think the men are working to secure the possible fall of loose rocks by attaching nets in some places to the rock face.
In the dale were several quarries and this was once a major source of employment for the village.


A road was blasted through Stoney Middleton in 1830 and in 1840 an octagonal toll house was built.
It's now a fish and chip shop.




The Moon Inn was and probably still is a popular place for walkers, cyclists and rock climbers to take a break. We had spent quite a lot of time in the tea room and a local inn during our visit to Eyam last Thursday so this time I was eager to spend more time walking as we'd started out early in the morning and weren't in need of refreshments.



The buildings towered above my head and I noticed this arch set in one of them and just had to take a peek inside. There was a shrine with icons hanging on the wall and it's at this point I would have loved to have had a villager as guide to explain more. I'm so glad I was curious enough to take a look though.
I believe the bottom icon depicts the resurrection of Jesus and his triumph over Death.  I have a similar one which I bought in Jerusalem many years ago in the 1980s.






A brook runs through the village - you can just see a wooden footbridge over it in the above photo. Wandering at will I missed out on walking on the path near it, but there was more to see as I climbed up the narrow lane to the buildings on a higher level. The fold which must have once been for sheep is now a little garden where anyone can sit and rest particularly walkers following the public footpath out into the countryside beyond the village.  Next to it is the Weslyan Reform Chapel which dates from the early 19th century and is still a place of worship.



Bootmaking was also a major industry in the village. There were buildings that looked as if they had been used for that purpose and interesting cottages and houses, large and small.






I couldn't get a full shot of this house (above) as the lane was narrow and my back was pressed up against the stone wall. Perhaps it was the residence of the owner of the footwear company?
Following the path by the brook I got another shot at a different angle. Here, in an area of the village called The Nook the shadows made it difficult to get good photos.  I have two digital pocket cameras and I find the Samsung takes better photos than the Panasonic, but the Panasonic has more zoom capacity. At least I can swap over if the battery gives out on one of them.




In The Nook are the entrance gates of Middleton Hall with the Parish Church next to it. The church is dedicated to St. Martin as is the nearby spring, which is located up a nearby lane. This needs a post of its own so sit for a while - if only you could hear that babbling brook as I did - and I'll be back soon to continue with the walk around Stoney Middleton.


Looking through the gates of Middleton Hall I caught a glimpse of masses of daffodils and the water of the brook must meander through the gardens.