The Old Quarry At Middleton Top, Derbyshire


With today’s images I’m having a complete change in mood from yesterday’s full-colour Wenlock Edge vistas. These Middeton Top photos were taken in September during our brief stay in Derbyshire.

As you can see, the light was flat and dull. I thought colour photos probably wouldn’t work, but decided to try out my camera’s monochrome setting. (And yes a tripod might have helped.) The result, to my eye, looks rather like a lugubrious nineteenth century (if not older) engraving – quite a fitting outcome I’m thinking for this old Industrial Age quarry.

Middleton Top is anyway a dramatic spot. The quarry lies beside the old Cromford and High Peak Railway Line now part of the fabulous High Peak Trail. There is also an impressively long and steep inclined plane (1 in 8) and the 1829 steam winding engine that once hauled wagons up the hill is still there within its dark-stone engine house.

I always find quarries very disturbing places, the landscape hacked and blasted. Also the limestone in this part of the world seems to loom oddly – even on dull days. Up on the skyline between the two small trees you can just see a cluster of boulders; they caught my eye for this very reason. I also thought I spotted a raven there, but it flew off before I could organise myself with the binoculars. Instead, I went for maximun zoom on the Lumix and ended up with this ‘charcoal sketch’ effect. Also a bit unsettling. You will have to imagine the raven. Or a Wuthering Heights moment displaced from Yorkshire.P1050680


And I couldn’t end without including a photo of the steam-winding engine house: an important piece of Britain’s industrial archaeological landscape. The engine is still in working order and has demonstration open days, though sadly no longer powered by steam. There’s a video HERE.



Black & White Sunday

26 thoughts on “The Old Quarry At Middleton Top, Derbyshire

  1. Black and white certainly suits this landscape. Looks very bleak. Or maybe that’s because it has been a raw day here and I am being influenced by the weather… 🙂

  2. I don’t remember seeing quarry photos from anyone other than you, Tish, and I like them in colour and monochrome both. This set is dramatic, dull light usually results in dull photos but not in this case. I love the image of the steam-winding engine house. Thank you.

      1. True; but it is a struggle sometimes to find the positives. She said through gritted teeth contemplating yet another day of rain and freezing winds in what’s meant to be almost summer 🙂

  3. The monochrome works really well Tish – I am really fond of this part of Derbyshire. In 1978 we so nearly bought one of the Blackwell Mill cottages at Millers Dale which is not so far away from Middleton Top. I saw it for the first time in years when they featured at the end of Julia Bradbury’s recent railway walk. The roads we might have taken.

    1. Ah yes, the paths we did not pursue. Glad you think the monochrome works. To me it ‘fits’ the darker aspects of Derbyshire, which otherwise (and as well as) is a very stunning county.

  4. Yes, Tish, this is the perfect subject matter for your monochrome treatment. To my eye, the monochrome adds to the area’s bleakness, as it would any strip mine. Too bad that so many are still in operation.

    1. We have vast quarries along Wenlock Edge – no longer quarried, but re-used for other industries. Very little has been done to restore the vegetation, which is usually part of the conditions attached to quarrying. On aerial photos they look like horrifying scars across the landscape. A few years ago the National Trust wanted to take over the lot, since they already care for the wooded slopes of the Edge, but one of the quarry owners wouldn’t cooperate and the whole scheme faltered. The aim was to create areas for tranquil wandering, and others for kids to do really exciting stuff. Maybe one day.

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