Looking at the C&C Club website in April, I earmarked the site at Teversal as a possibility for a ten-day stay later in June. Availability was there, but I wasn’t ready to commit. By May, I was! But strangely, every, time I entered dates, it showed that no pitches were available. Eventually, I discovered the site had been de-listed from the C&CC – and had been sold. It was now https://silverhillwoodlandretreats.co.uk/touring/ I entered my dates and space was available. A booking was just a click away – but full payment was required to secure the booking. At my age, even a commitment of five days is a risk. This was five weeks and with a no refund clause, it was out of the question. Instead, I settled for a booking at a C&MC Club CL just three miles away. My booking was quickly confirmed online without any deposit being required.
Fast forward to the 18th June. I was ready to leave by 8am on Saturday and quickly reached the M25. I headed clockwise towards Heathrow and decided to go north via the M40. After a stop at Cherwell Valley Services, I took the A43 over to the M1. Eighty miles later, I came off at Junction 28, and within 15 minutes, I’d arrived at my CL. – at 1.30! But five caravans were already pitched! And my name wasn’t shown on the arrivals board either. Something was wrong! Had I mixed up the booking dates? All my records were on my laptop. I telephoned the site owner, but “leave a message, and I’ll get back to you” didn’t solve my immediate problem. I needed somewhere to stay! In desperation, I telephoned the ex-C&C Club site three miles away at Teversal. They had space, so I headed across into Nottinghamshire and quickly got booked in. No sooner did I have the legs down and the water and electric connected, when the phone rang. It was the CL owner full of apologies. The previous caravanner hadn’t left before the 11.30am ruling: the owner had forgotten to update the arrivals board; the pitch was ready now and would I like to return? No way! I was settled – and here I was going to stay.
Although the site is now owned by a private company, it still looks and feels like a C&C Club site. It’s large, but there’s only the one toilet block – but it is superb. Large cubicles contain a curtained shower space, a toilet pan and a handbasin with stools and hangers. Most of the pitches are on a slight slope, either on hard standing or on grass with an electric bollard close by. Since the ‘take over’ some mobile homes have been introduced, together with camping pods. Site fees are very reasonable. In mid-June, a hard-standing pitch with electric connection for one person is £18. An ‘over 65 age’ concession brings that down to £15 per night. Bearing in mind 16amp electric is included, it’s amazing for these days. There is a small shop on-site catering for essentials, with superstores being around 3 miles away. There’s a country inn, The Cavendish, just a short walk along the road.
When I left home, it was my intention to spend ten days in Derbyshire, but having to find another site three miles down the road, put my stay in Nottinghamshire. Forty years ago there was nothing here to attract the holidaymaker, because then Teversal, together with the surrounding villages of Stanton Hill and Sutton were all pit villages. But by the late 1980s to 1990s, most of the mines had closed and then began the long process of getting rid of two hundred years of industrial activity. Some of the colliery wastelands have been transformed into nature reserves. One is Silverhill, just across the road from the site. It was to there that I cycled on Sunday. To cycle around the perimeter track is a ride of around three miles. This area once contained two shafts and pit head winding gear together with rail tracks and a huge spoil heap at its centre. The winding gear and rail tracks are gone but the spoil heap, now covered with vegetation, stands 670 feet above the surrounding area giving the trackways some fearsome hills. On its flattened top stands a bronze statue of a young coal miner – a tribute to those who in the past spent much of their lives underground.
Left click the pictures to enlarge. Click the arrow top left to return.
On Monday I drove the ten miles or so to visit the Castle at Bolsover. As castles go, this one is comparatively new having been built in the 17th Century, high up on an escarpment giving it a commanding view. It was built on the ruins of a much earlier castle erected by the Peverils, one of the knights who benefited after the Norman Conquest. The new Castle was intended as a comfortable house rather than a defensive stronghold
. To one side of the house is a long terrace with extensive views across the surrounding countryside. One of the Castle’s finest features is its indoor riding pavilion where exhibitions of horsemanship are still held.
By the time I’d returned to the caravan, it was still only mid-afternoon so there was time for a bike ride. I decided to do another circuit of the local Nature Reserve. This time, I parked my bike and climbed the last few feet up to the summit.
Today I headed up the M1 and M18 to visit Brodsworth Hall & Gardens, a magnificent mansion built at the centre of a large estate. It was built for the Thellusson family and their retinue of servants. The Thellussons were a Swiss banking family making loans to owners of shipping lines. Often West Indian sugar plantations were put up as surety for the loans and very soon the family acquired several of those plantations in failed debts. They became extremely wealthy.
As I walked the beautiful gardens and trod the manicured lawns, then went inside to see the finely decorated rooms with furniture built from the highest quality mahogany, one could not help but give a thought to the poor souls whose lives of slavery made it all possible. After a packed lunch taken in a nice shady spot in the garden, I set out for my next stop.
That was after a short detour from the M1, to visit the ruins of Roche Abbey.
The Abbey was founded in 1147 and at its peak was the home to 50 monks and around 100 lay brothers. As with all the other monasteries and abbeys, its end came in 1538 on the instructions of Henry VIII. The higher-ranking monks were bribed with pensions but the lay brothers were turned out and left to their own devices. Very quickly the Abbey became a source of building material.
On another day I drove to yet another nature reserve – the site of the Pleasely Pit. Here in addition to a huge nature reserve is the preserved chimney and pit-head winding gear.
Today I headed across to the Derwent Valley to visit the rescued Cromford Mills.
This mill was the first water-powered cotton spinning mill, built in 1771 by Richard Arkwright. As the mill increased in size, so did the demand for workers. Arkwright built industrial housing to accommodate them, followed by a hotel. Soon he had created a new town, the first of many in the area.
Later in the morning, I drove a few miles down the road following the river. Very soon I arrived at the motor museum. Here they have around 150 pristine cars to see – all of which are at least thirty years old – and some are very much older. At the entrance is a row of Austin Sevens together with a much older Austin where the back seat passengers actually sat in the front.
Further through the display is another Austin 7 towing a caravan built in 1932. Then there’s the mini, direct from the factory showing only delivery mileage and still wearing its protective covers on the seating and controls. Popular Fords, Vauxhalls, Triumphs, and British Leylands from the 60s are all represented – all looking like new. I particularly liked the ‘straight from the showroom’ Reliant Scimitar. At the far end of the exhibition is the viewing window to the workshop where the fleet is kept fully serviced. Some of the cars are available to self-drive a few circuits around their track. But at a price!!
The amazing spell of good weather seemed set to continue so I decided today to see some scenery. I set off through Chesterfield and headed over to the Lady Bower Reservoir.
Not being a weekend, I was able to drive along the narrow road which follows closely around the Derwent Reservoir. Eventually, I arrived at the Derwent Dam, made famous by its use in 1943 by 617 Squadron to practice dropping Barnes Wallace’s bouncing bomb, before launching their attack on the dams of the Ruhr Valley. A memorial erected close to the Dam commemorates the event. Later I drove to the summit of Snake Road where I found a pleasant spot to enjoy my packed lunch.
But what sort of moron comes to a place as lovely as this –
then despoils it by leaving this.
The barometer is forecasting a change of weather however, the morning looks good. By 9am, I was on the outskirts of Chesterfield unloading my bike at Tapton Lock on the Chesterfield Canal. I set off in one direction and very soon found the towpath was taking me past new-build building sites and into the town. As I reached the centre of the footbridge crossing one of the main dual carriageways, I decided to retrace my steps and try the other direction. But not before taking a picture of Chesterfield’s twisted church spire.
Dozens of fanciful reasons try to explain why the spire has twisted over the years, The opposite direction along the canal proved to be the better choice.
After cycling three miles or so, I returned to Tapton and loaded up the bike.
On the way back to the site, I detoured slightly to visit the ruins of Sutton Scarsdale Hall. This was once reputed to be the finest house in the whole of Derbyshire. It was built in 1724 although it remained unfinished because building it had caused the owner financial ruin. Eventually, by 1740 it did get finished although ownership changed hands several times.
The Arkwright family owned it for a time with ownership changing through the different generations. Then a fire destroyed much of the interior. The final owner was a member of the literary Sitwell family who bought it simply to preserve what was left of the estate. It has stood derelict for over 100 years. Upon the death of the last owner, ownership passed into the hands of English Heritage whose current dilemma is what to do with it.
No sooner had I arrived back at the site when the clouds darkened, the wind sprang up and the rain started.