52. In England and Wales...
29th July 2012. This is the sole surviving shot of a visit to the National Trust Property of Calke Abbey in Derbyshire. I took my son and his wife as it was his birthday. There is a long underground tunnel that connects the house to some outbuildings. This is a flash shot – it’s a lot darker and more forbidding in reality!
The ‘feeder’ that connects the Earlswood Lakes (near Birmingham) to the canal for which they were built as reservoirs. The weather was dull – as most of this summer was – and this is looking away from the lakes towards the canal.
Here is the engine house that would pump water by steam engines into the feeder, should the level of the lakes fall too low.
Not far away is the excellent bus Transport Museum at Wythall. It’s well worth a visit if you’re in the region. It’s open at weekends and also Wednesdays in the summer. Check it out at http://www.bammot.org.uk/ It’s closed at the time of writing (November 2012) but opens on Good Friday 2013. Not only is there much to look at, but you can have a ~40 minute trip in one of their many beautifully & lovingly-restored buses for only £2. Oh, the gear changes and the whining of traditional gear-boxes whizzed me, magically, back to my extreme youth (circa 1950) when I rode on holiday with my auntie in Anglesey in just such a Crosville ’bus as you see above. Not to be missed!
8th August 2012. A long-deferred trip to Aberystwyth with a friend finally took place. Our object had always been to travel from Birmingham to Aberystwyth by the central Wales railway (which somehow survived the railway cut-backs of the 1960s), then travel on the narrow-gauge Vale of Rheidol Railway from there to Devil’s Bridge & back. The latter had first been built as a mineral railway, but almost immediately also ran passenger trains for tourists. See http://www.rheidolrailway.co.uk/ for details. Above is some of Aberystwyth – once quite a depressed seaside resort, but now vibrant with a flourishing University and a splendid place to visit. This shot is taken from the headland, served by an excellent Victorian Cliff Railway.
Here, seen at Devil’s Bridge Station, is one of the three locomotives that work the line. Numbered 7, 8 & 9 under the Great Western Railway’s system, they were always most desirable ‘cops’ as we used to call them when we were schoolboy locomotive spotters. Some of us never grow up, I’m glad to report!
As to the ‘Devil’s Bridge’... well, there are three bridges, one over the other. The modern steel one at the top, then the one it replaced, and at the bottom, the earliest one of all… but see http://www.devilsbridgefalls.co.uk/ for more details.
You can walk down & along the gorge of the River Rheidol, though it is quite deep. Here we see a view of the river cascading down. It’s quite a small river really; indeed, in Switzerland or the U.S. it wouldn’t be worth a second look! But it seems quite good to us. Notice in the centre & centre-left some brown staining? That’s due to the high iron content of the water. Both lead & iron ore were mined in the hills above Aberystwyth, though that has long ceased – though there is a great deal of poignant industrial archaeology to be seen on the mountain road leading back from Devils Bridge towards Rhayader.
Page written 3rd November 2012. It is cold; the ink is poor, and the light is bad.