Thursday, 21 August 2008

Another Valley - words, pictures and tunes

Monsal Dale in Derbyshire, now an idyllic spot in England's Peak District National Park, once hosted a busy railway line, opened in 1863.

'There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time, divine as the Vale of Tempe; you might have seen the Gods there morning and evening - Apollo and all the sweet Muses of the Light - walking in fair procession on the lawns of it, and to and fro among the pinnacles of its crags. You cared neither for Gods nor grass but for cash (which you did not know the way to get); you thought you could get it by what the Times calls 'Railroad Enterprise'. You Enterprised a Railroad through the valley - you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream. The valley is gone, and the Gods with it; and now, every fool in Buxton can be in Bakewell in half an hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange – you Fools everywhere'. John Ruskin (1819-1900), Fors Clavigera.

While in the UK we took a walk from Monsal Head and down into the valley with our friend David Chang. Now that the railway line has been torn up and the route it took designated as an official walking trail I was - happily - able to avoid being counted among Ruskin's fools, though quite what he would make of our zipping around the country by car for the previous fortnight is debatable. It was a typical English summer's day, I mean it only rained for part of the time, and I took lots of photos. None of my pictures reveal the valley's topography as well as the composite panorama posted here, since it shows both the river and the tops and the viaduct is clearly visible
David showed us the exact spot on the lofty viaduct from which he took the shot for the cover of the wonderful new CD by the superb traditional folk trio Skyhook.

Skyhook play their own tunes along with traditional ones from the Scotland, Ireland and Cape Breton (Canada) - you can listen to some here Not only are the tunes on the album - including the ones written by 'first fiddler' Cath James - really catchy and superbly played, the sound production is really extremely good.

Meanwhile, there are more of David's photos of the band here

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