mEAndering ~ galavanting in Glossop

As the party was on Easter Sunday, we spent Monday tidying up and putting things away – I was really glad I had hung on to a lot of my large entertaining dishes and had not got rid of them in a fit of decluttering earlier this year when I was reviewing all the little used items in my cupboards.  I had taken an inexpensive ice bucket to the charity shop for that very reason; I didn’t think I would be hosting any more big summer parties now until maybe our 70th comes along and by then I reckon I could buy another cheap one if necessary.  Well a lesson learned I really needed it last weekend.

By Tuesday I slumped into exhaustion and felt so lethargic I had to drag myself to Yoga class.  I was pleasantly surprised that it actually boosted my energy levels considerably and afterwards we decided it was time to get out of the house for a while and just go for a wander somewhere – so we packed up, jumped in the car and went out with a picnic.

We were headed for Derbyshire  – our usual route over the Strines but at the last-minute decided to go up over by Holme Moss across the valley from us.  We stopped in the little car park beside the mast and admired the view below while we ate.  It was a very hazy day but the view from here is glorious and looks out over the tiny village of Holme to the left of the reservoir – you can just about see almost centre of the photo, and to the right and behind the reservoir you can just make out the market town of Holmfirth (Last of the Summer Wine fame) – our village is  nestled in the valley just beyond the hills on the left.  If you do not know the Pennine area then this is how high you have to climb to be able to see over a hill around here.View from Holme MossHolme Moss mastWe drove down the steep winding road from Holme Moss to meet the notorious Snake Pass and then along the valley bottom and over to Glossop, a small old mill town in the High Peak enjoying a bit of a revival, where we stopped and rang an old college friend of mine who lives close by on the off-chance they might be at home.  She and her new partner came to meet us and we enjoyed a lovely relaxing afternoon with them in a local cafe chatting and catching up.

When they went home we had a wander around Glossop town centre – I was amazed at some of the lovely old buildings and the fascinating and rich history of the town.  We will be going back to visit again soon and next time we will walk up to Old Glossop which is the original village and has some delightful old cottages clustered around the church.

We began our walk down the main street – this was the first indication we had seen all day that it was St George’s day.Venturing up one or two of the side streets we came across this fine old building – the Glossop Gas Works which is now home to a few new business enterprises.  Before Gas became available the mills like everywhere else would have been lit by candlelight through necessity to work 24 hours a day.  This was expensive and so the textile mills were one of the first places that were used to develop this new technology and demonstrate it to a very sceptical public. Glossop Gas WorksWe crossed the road and began our walk back, once again exploring a few of the side streets as something caught our eye, and discovered this unusual church building – The Central Methodist Church.Central Methodist Church GlossopI tried to get a photo of the light flooding the inside of the chapel through the windows around the back.  Perhaps on another visit we might be able to go inside. On the corner of High Street West and George Street we came across the Oakwood. This site has a long and chequered history since 1844 when originally it was an inn owned by George Pye and remained in his family till 1875 when it was sold and demolished to make way for a very grand hotel complete with balcony and flagpoles at a cost of £6,000.  In fact there are many balconied buildings around Glossop. During its time the spire has been removed and in 1901 it was bought by Robinson’s Brewery and had a major renovation in 1991.  Today it is still with the brewery and is a popular place to eat and drink.

Glossop would have grown in size very quickly as the mills were built so the streets are lined with rows of terraced housing and here and there are dotted a few lovely little independent shops.Graceful GlossopThe Flower Room GlossopIt struck me that the streets here are unusually wide compared with a lot of mill towns – hence the name dark satanic mills because the mills were tall and the streets narrow and  claustrophobic.  Here it felt much lighter.

In a mill town you are never very far away from a stream or river as the water was used to power the machinery for the different processes in the mills.  It was vital that the area had a heavy annual rainfall to feed these streams and Glossop fit the bill with over 60 inches a year on the surrounding hills.The mills around Glossop mainly produced cotton, as more mills were built more people had to be ‘imported’ in to the area and the town grew in size – a town hall with adjacent market hall and shopping arcade, now one of the popular attractions here, was built in 1938 by 12th Duke of Norfolk at a cost of £8,500 – not quite as glamorous as the shopping arcade in the centre of Leeds but none the less it has some handsome architectural merit and is currently undergoing extensive renovations and covered in scaffolding and sheeting so I wasn’t able to take a picture of the front of this grand domed building but here is a peek inside.

Opposite the Market Hall is the town square – so very well kept with borders running along each side that are a riot of colour and a credit to the Council.Glossop Town SquareIn the centre of the square is a war memorial with a statue of an angel gracefully holding a laurel wreath – it is quite beautiful and a fitting tribute to the many men of the town who gave their lives in the war.Glossop War Memorial There were some very wealthy mill owners in the area which generated rather a lot of rivalry between them.  This in turn benefitted the local people as each of the mill owners built public buildings such as the public baths, parks and libraries for their workforces.  Mrs Wood, wife of John Wood donated four drinking fountains to the town of which I believe this could be one of them.

Edward Partington owned one of the paper mills and as he was a Liberal laid the foundation stone of the Liberal club.  He also built the library and a convalescent home. The former Liberal club I think is one of the finest buildings on the square with yet another small balcony – it was turned into a small theatre in 1957 and became a new home for the Partington Players. …..watched over by a statue of Hamlet…

Just off the back of the square past the Theatre is a rather grand flight of steps up to the station forecourt.  The mystery little cottage to the right of the photo above built into the slope has a cute little garden, now overgrown but with signs of herbs and vegetables being grown up to very recently.  To one side it has a wooden first floor extension which from the other side resembles some kind of ticket office – but as yet I have no clues as to what it might have been use for. And this is where we finished our little stroll – I hope you enjoyed your visit to this lovely little mill town – sadly many of the mills have been demolished now but a few survive with a new lease of life as shopping centres and businesses.  It was a hard life in a mill town,  the mill owners were quite entrepreneurial people in their time as the industrial revolution took hold and they  became very prosperous  mainly due to the hard work of the people who toiled long hours day in and day out in these noisy, dust ridden buildings.

I remember when as a young girl we moved from Sheffield and the steel works to Huddersfield and the giant woollen mills the effect it had on me with the tall chimneys everywhere rearing up against the skyline – dark dreary Victorian stone buildings stained by the many years of soot.  Like in Glossop not all have survived, some have disappeared others turned into anything from student accommodation to shopping outlets but the heritage of these places live on.





mEAndering ~ a detour en route to our cottage

On our journey up to Scotland on Thursday we crossed the Scottish border and decided to look for somewhere to pull off the road to have our packed lunch; so we took a detour through Gretna town centre (about 5 shops!) and out on the tourist route (avoiding the busy A75), ending up at Dornock a tiny village about 6 miles down the road. Not to be confused with Dornoch.

We randomly chose a road to turn into to the left of the main village road (Church Road) and stumbled upon this little church.  After eating our sandwiches I went off to explore.DornockDornock ChurchAt first glance it wasn’t obvious that the church was still in use but further investigation told me it probably was (and of course Google helped later).  It is a listed church dedicated to St Marjory and built in 1793 on the site of the initial medieval church that was knocked down and of which there are no remains.

The church forms a T shape, built of sneck harled rubble (I got that off Google – I am no expert on stones!), the porches were added on at a later date. It has round-headed windows and two of them are stained with glass designed by Ballantine and Gardiner of Glasgow (in 1843 they won a competition to design windows for the new Houses of Parliament, although in the event they only provided some windows for the House of Lords).  We couldn’t go in the church to see the windows but they look quite intricate from outside and the windows are covered in that shatter proof plastic sheet so they must be quite important.

The bellcote, also added later in 1855, and which I inadvertently chopped the top off in the photo has no bell as strangely the bell lies in the Sanctuary at the doorway of another church in Bowness on Solway; taken by the English in retaliation for the Scots pinching their bell which now lies in the Solway!  A bit of tit for tat.One of the things that struck me wandering around the graveyard is firstly that it is such a wild yet beautiful graveyard, so peaceful with a view that stretches over to the Solway estuary in the background.  The second thing is the sheer size of all these 18th Century grave stones that are packed into this graveyard and almost towered above me and more resembled one of those large city cemeteries than a tiny parish church. All around the graves the grass was long underfoot and difficult to walk over with mounds and clumps entwined with brambles.These two graves I came across are a sad reminder of how children often died young through infectious diseases that couldn’t be cured back then and how some families lost more than one child at the same time with the same illness.  This was written on the gravestones…

Here lyes
Jannet Turnbull
Daughter of Robert Turn
bull in closhead who Died May
30th 1775 Aged 11 Months
& John Turnbull son of the said
Robert Who Died Janry 11th 1784
Aged 8 years
Also Mary Turnbull Daughter
of the above who Died Janry 28th
1784 Aged 1 year & 6 Months

The stone on the right is simply inscribed:-
Here lyes Thomas
son to John Turn
bull in Longland
Who died young

On the back:-
John Turnbull
who died 1792
Aged 78 years

What a truly peaceful place to sit and ponder on life…

What a shame we couldn’t linger any longer but we will go back as I have read on Google that somewhere amongst all those grave stones are 3 Hogbacked gravestones (carved stones) with Viking links from when the pre-reformation Medieval church was in use and I am curious to see these now.

I also learnt from the internet that there is a Watchnight Service at 11.30pm on Christmas Eve – how I would have loved to be up here to go to that.

From the peace of the countryside we headed back to the A75 calling in at Castle Douglas for a chip butty tea and then on to the sleepy backwater market town of Newton Stewart to buy food from the only Sainsburys for miles.  They had just had their new Christmas lights switched on – my goodness they have really pushed the boat out this year!Newton Stewart Christmas LightsI love that row of stars strung across the main street.  Tomorrow we are going into Stranraer to watch the Christmas parade and switching on of the lights in the town centre and see these Three Wise Men on their camels.  Can’t wait.

Our little village here usually has a Christmas tree but no signs of one yet – perhaps they are growing it still!

mEAndering ~ a trip to the Isle of Whithorn

We had planned a day out on Wednesday as a change from gardening (and after all it is our holidays!) –  but decided that a long drive up through Ayrshire to Largs for a trip on the Waverley steam boat was not a good idea for me in this heat.  DH is as tough as old boots but I am too delicate in this hot weather!

So instead we opted for a run out along the coast road that takes us round to the other side of Luce Bay and down to the Isle of Whithorn, a picturesque village centered around the natural little harbour.

It is one of my favourite places – I could easily live here though it is some 22 miles to the nearest town of Newton Stewart where there are larger (but not huge) supermarkets and a range of independant shops.  Down on the Isle there is only a community shop run in the visitor centre that closes at 4pm and no petrol station for miles.

It has some fascinating buildings – the Isle of Whithorn Church (a former Free church) is situated on the foreshore of the harbour just along the main street and is very much in use doubling up as an exhibition area when there are no services taking place.

The windows are clear not stained but an old repair here shows someone has added a patterned glass in one of them at some time which is rather cute.

This row of houses  also built on the shoreline jut out into the harbour.  The end house / houses (I am never quite sure if there are three or four houses in the row) are being completely renovated at the moment.

The larger house in the cluster with the blue painted windows has just been renovated and brought back to its former glory.  The garden wall is decorated with black paint to represent castle walls.  Look closely at the end of the terrace of houses and you can see a rather picturesque balcony.

I am curious to know what the three stones are for that jut out of the corner of this house!

This is the old Tower House just off the main street by the river with its tiny turrets on the corners.

I loved this little find  – down one of the side streets.  I thought I had found a use for DH’s old leaky wellies – DH just informed me that he had put his old wellies in the bin and that the bin men had emptied it this morning!

Either of these two cottages would suit me if ever they come on the market.  they look out across the harbour and are quite sheltered.

I think that this might have been the former post office which is now located in the new lottery funded visitor centre.

It was too hot to venture over to the old ruins of St Ninian’s Chapel but here are a few pictures from a previous visit.  St Ninian was the founder of the Whithorn Priory said to be the most holy place in Scotland.  He is acknowledged as Scotland’s first Saint.

At one time the Chapel (which dates back to about 1300 and built on the site of an earlier chapel) was actually situated on an Island just off the mainland but after the redevelopment of the village and harbour the gap was closed and it is now part of the mainland just beyond the harbour.

The pilgrims to St Ninian’s Shrine at Whithorn some 3 miles away would have landed on the beach just below the Chapel and then given thanks for surviving the treacherous sea journey before setting off on foot to visit the shrine where it is said that many miracle cures and healing took place.

There is such a rich history in the area of early settlements and Whithorn’s development as a Christian centre.  There has been many archaeological excavations and a lot of interesting finds.

With the hot weather and very little shade (there are not many trees on the Isle of Whithorn) we could not go exploring far but it was good to get out and about for a while.





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