We are looking for contacts, local community groups, interested individuals, routes into funding, places to exhibit, support, volunteers, publicity and people to network with in order to develop our projects.
Please contact us by emailing milesanddacombe@virginmedia.com.

Saturday 2 July 2011


Our idea has always been to go somewhere unknown to us, without doing any research, to explore what we find and meet people along the way. Our second away day was to Whatstandwell in Derbyshire and we were fairly certain we would find a very different location than we found in Perry Bar. There were no station buildings but there was a graceful bridge between the active platform and the one on the other side, which was colonised by a wonderful array of wild flowers and weeds.

Gary the Train Driver was the first person we met, on his way to work in Derby. He’d had a variety of jobs with the railway and told us it was best to contact the main station in Derby if we wanted to stage an intervention at Whatstandwell. He hopped on the train and we crossed the bridge in search of a cup of tea.

The bridge took us to the towpath of the Cromford canal.  On the towpath we met three sisters, all local, who told us there was a tea shop further along “it wasn’t far”, so we fell in step with them for a while. By the end of the day we’d discovered that “not far” was roughly 2 and a half miles in any given direction! 

After walking with the sisters and hearing about their lives, local industry, family ties we fell back to better appreciate the lay of the land discovering that there were 4 levels running in parallel, river, road, rail and canal.  At points along the way these networks crossed each other.  Our feet on the path added a fifth network.

Canal crosses over railway
Canal crossed over river

Hidden behind trees on the far bank

Finally we came to High Peak Junction, where we not only found a cup of tea but a wealth of information from the Countryside  Rangers at work there.  They told us about some of the work that used to go on on the railway along the route that we had just walked.  They were intrigued by the idea of an artistic intervention and, again, were very helpful with giving us contacts and information.

Cromford Station itself was beautiful, painted in the same red and cream livery as Whatstandwell and again with wonderful details in the iron work.   A black and white cat bellowed at us as he crossed the rail line and wandered around the platforms that he clearly owned!

We took a train ride from Cromford Station, through Whatstandwell to Ambergate, and then walked back from Ambergate to Whatstandwell.  It felt strange to be travelling the same route we had just walked on the train, the experience of the two modes of travel were diametrical opposites.  We seemed to have been walking for hours that day, whereas the train journey from Cromford to Ambergate was a mere 10 minutes!  No time at all for the contemplation of small details and to take in the play of light on water and through trees, as we had on the walk.

Kevin the Conductor, a mine of information and a very kind man who had the time to show us just how his ticket machine worked. We have been intrigued by tickets and ticket machines ever since our visit to the London Transport Museum. He had worked in finance for most of his career but found that working for the railway the past three years had been a completely joyous experience. He was a man truly happy in his work!

Walking back from Ambergate, we had no idea how far it would be!

A welcome sight for our hot feet, the foot bridge to the platform at Whatstandwell
The day had been one of crossing networks, modes of travel, helpful people, sunshine, getting lost and endless possibilities!

1 comment:

  1. I am glad that you had a good day discovering some of Derbyshire's hidden gems. I like the idea that you just turn up and see what you find.

    Now you have done the groundwork I thought you might want to have a look at an online exhibition about Cromford and the High Peak Railway that Derbyshire Record Office has created - http://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/record_office/our_collection/archive/default.asp

    Visit the Enlightenment! blog to find out more about Derbyshire in the 18th and 19th century – www.enlightenmentderbyshire.wordpress.com

    Enjoy your next adventure!


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