Isobel continues her investigations into the more obscure regions of Derbyshire lore:

Whatstandwell is a Derbyshire village on the River Derwent. The Cromford Canal passes through the village – this was constructed in the late 18th century as part of improvements to transport links which ultimately went to Manchester and Liverpool.

Whatstandwell Pumping Station by the Canal by E. Hughes 1970s pen and ink. Collection of BMAG

Just over 30 miles from Whatstandwell is Coton in the Elms, specifically Church Flatts Farm. According to Ordanance Survey, this is the furthest place from the sea in England. The inspirational Dame Ellen MacArthur was born in Whatstandwell and in 2005, she became the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

Todd Brook is a small stream which bubbles it’s way through Cheshire into Derbyshire. It is beautiful in all seasons and I have walked by it and in it many times over the last 50 years. I walked along its banks with my Dad as a child, and he delighted in finding trout. I have seen herons, goldfinches, bluebells  and watched the seasons unfold. I have walked hand in hand with sweethearts, taken my children for walks and  caught a stickleback in a jar.

Pike, D.; Sailing at Toddbrook by D. Pike oil 1975. Collection of BMAG

The brook splits in two, with the water either cascading over a weir into Toddbrook Reservoir or continuing alongside the reservoir as a little stream which meets the River Goyt in Whaley Bridge. Who would have thought that in August 2019, pictures of this beautiful place would have been beamed around the world when the dam wall came within a whisker of bursting and residents were evacuated with just the clothes they were wearing.

The tiny brook hasn’t finished yet, because once it joins the River Goyt, (which starts its own adventure near the Cat and Fiddle Inn,) it continues it journey onwards, meeting up with other rivers along the way, until it arrives at Stockport and as the River Mersey, arrives in Liverpool and flows into the Irish Sea.

Bridge across the river Goyt, Goyt Valley 1932 by J.W. Jackson. Collection of BMAG

Before lockdown began, one of the loudest sounds you would hear in Buxton might have been the roars of approval when a goal was scored at the Silverlands, home of Buxton’s football team. But those cheers are short lived in comparison to the mighty effect on a small, perfectly positioned voice in the Devonshire Dome in Buxton.

This 18th century horse stable was built by John Carr, and the unsupported dome was added in 1880 by Robert Rippon Duke. It always seems hard to pin down exact measurements for something like this, so I won’t dwell on these things, but if you get the chance to go in, stand below the highest point of the Dome and look up and speak, and simply marvel and the effect this magnificent construction can have on a human voice. Just be careful what you say – I know somebody who was there on a training course and during a break for tea and biscuits, one of the trainees said exactly what he thought about the trainer….awkward!

Interior of the Devonshire Dome 19th century engraving. Collection of BMAG