Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Briefly in Buxton

Derbyshire, England.


A bus and two trains to Whaley Bridge and Bugsworth Canal Basin.
On the way to the bus stop, my ridiculous umbrella wants to be a sail, lacks the boat it longs for, the metal breaks, the banner folds in half, fawns wetly at my cheek.

Such a feeling of anticipation at the bus stop, the lorries going past throwing spray at the bus shelter, sizzling past. Because of the floods there are no trains running from Edinburgh to Carlisle so I take the bus to Carlisle, where the train begins. It's a smooth looking Virgin train to London, but I will change at Preston.

In the loo, a voice announces very calmly that the door is not locked. Twice, it says this, while I search for the button to press that will lock it. Successfully locked, the voice continues, in even tones.
'Please don't flush unpaid bills, your ex's sweater, hopes, dreams or goldfish down the toilet,' it says. When I arrive at Whaley Bridge and tell C about this, he does not believe me, he thinks I made it up. But I did not.

Woke up in the morning to snow on the canal towpath. A jaunt into Buxton on another local train – because we had been told there is a very good bookshop there.

Buxton is divided into two parts, the lower part with a small pedestrian shopping area. Then there's the Slopes, a terraced park, leading to the upper part, and the High Street, aptly named in this case. And this is where we find the bookshop, Scrivener's, with several floors of second hand books. 

It is so browser friendly, with seats, coffee and tea making facilities, you could spend a long time there but I was determined not to I wanted to be outside, especially as the sun had come out. I did buy one book though, one of these serendipitous finds that links the past and present – Colin Thubron's Journey into Cyprus. I still have lots of notes I haven't written up yet, from my recent trip there, and I look forward to reading what Colin Thubron has to say about it.

We walked to the woods beyond Poole's Cavern, a limestone cave. The wooded slopes here used to be the site of limestone quarries and when you emerge from the woods there's tremendous views over to another peak

and over the town of Buxton itself in the valley below.

The rounded hillocks left from the former quarry works look as if giant moles used to live here. Obviously some time ago as the hillocks are all grass covered now. Snow swirls around them like little moats.

This is wet snow, I know because, running down one of the little slopes, whooping for joy, I slipped and fell, managing to get both wet and muddy. I stopped whooping and yelled. C was further up the hill, heading towards the tower, and did not hear me because of the high wind. But as I struggled up the last slope to the tower on the top, at least the wind helped to dry out the soggy patches on my trousers.

The tower is called Solomon's temple, and is apparently built on the site of an ancient burial mound, though does not seem to serve any particular purpose other than being a goal to reach, and marking a spectacular viewpoint.

Back in town, there's no wind at all. We walk through the Pavilion Gardens to the Crescent, and St Anne's Well.


The water from this well ( I thought I had taken a photo of it, but it seems I did not) is the famous spa water, from a thermal spring. 

Image courtesy of explorebuxton

There used to be a Roman bath here too. People come to the well to fill their water bottles. One man says, this is the Buxton water you buy in shops but you can get it here for free! So we also fill up our bottles, and very fine water it is too, though at first, not realising it's from a thermal spring, I was a little surprised that it was warm.

Back up the hill to the train station, where the line to Manchester begins and ends here. Back to Whaley Bridge, the canal path and the boat, passing through Chapel-en-le-Frith and Dove Hole. These cryptic and curious names.