Monday, November 15, 2010

A walk to Darley Abbey, Nutwood Nature Preserve and Derby

I'm in Derby, England for a week. Today I walked about 7 miles to Darley Abbey, Nutwood Nature Preserve, then to the Derby Market place, then back to our hotel.

I began the walk by crossing the footbridge to St. Mary's Chuch and walking down to the River Derwent.

The footpath followed the river alongside playing fields.

It eventually led to a country lane alongside a field.

I briefly wondered if the footpath to Nutwood Nature Preserve went across this field (note the bull!) Thankfully, it did not, especially after seeing this story in the local news yesterday.

Instead, the lane took me into Darley Abbey Mills, then over the toll bridge by the weir. A weir is a low dam used to create a millpond, which then provides water-power to nearby mills.

At the other end of the bridge was the footpath to Nutwood Nature Preserve, located on a bend of the river. Across the fields you can see the steeple of All Saints Church in Breadsall, a parish which is mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1087.

I walked into the village of Darley Abbey, then up through Darley Park, formerly the grounds of an Augustinian Abbey in A.D. 1146, and later, in 1727, the home of William Evans , builder of the cotton mills at Darley Abbey.

The only remaining parts of Darley Hall (built in 1727) are the stables and terraced garden, now a tea room. I stopped to warm up with a cup of tea. The weather was sunny and warm enough to sit outside.

I then walked into the village, past the Abbey Pub, the only remaining building of the medieval abbey. This building may have been a guest house for travelers and pilgrims during the 13th century.

The now abandonned cotton mills have quite a few broken windows, no doubt prompting this sign on one of the buildings in the village.

I continued up to St. Matthew's Church on the hill. This is where the Evans family and mill workers attended church.

On my return, I passed St. Matthew's School. The headmaster's residence was the section on the left, and the headmistress's residence was the section on the right. The classrooms were in between.

The three story cottages below were built by the Evans to provide homes for the mill workers.

The return path to Derby went along the river, under St. Alkmund's Way and several other bridges.

In the city centre, I passed Royal Oak House and went up into the Market,

and found a craft store where I could buy more watercolor paint.

By that time, I was pretty weary, so headed back to wait for Dan. It gets so dark early here -- the sun sets around 4 p.m.

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