Volunteer archivist Ian Gregory ruminates on an old view of the Goyt Valley, a popular spot for a stroll just outside Buxton:

To the north of Buxton lies the valley of the River Goyt. It lies in heather moorland that turns purple in late Summer. Pools and rivulets are black from surrounding peat. Selective burning has patterned hills with bands of heather and stripes of grass in between. From a distance, it looks like the markings on a tabby cat.

postcard collection of BMAG


Buxton Museum and Art Gallery holds postcards on which this valley is depicted. They show paths I have walked on and views that bring back memories. This blog was inspired by a black and white photo of the young river in a deep cutting. The scene may look timeless, but appearances can be deceptive. There are mounds in the top left of this view. A friend who knows the valley says there were coal mines here in the past. The mounds are spoil heaps from them. Those mines were worked out long ago but they have left their mark. Coal from them was used mostly for burning lime, despite the difficulty of transporting it from such a remote location. Turnpike roads and railways made this easier.

The Goyt Valley by G.M. Brown 19th century oil painting. Collection of BMAG

The last mine in the Goyt Valley fell silent in 1919. Since then, countless walkers have passed by, escaping from the grind and stress of industrial and post-industrial society. Trees have sprouted nearby, bees have pollinated heather, grouse and curlews have foraged on the moors. Mother Nature is resilient if given a chance but humans don’t always give her the break she deserves.

Plan your visit to learn more about Buxton and the Peak District.