Derbyshire 49 - Derwent Dam/Ladybower/no through road /the dambusters/617 squadron

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August 18th 2018
Published: August 28th 2018
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Motor homing is all about making plans. Sticking to them. Changing them. It is all about spending the cold dark winter months reading other peoples blogs. Following their travels , earmarking places to visit and campsites to stay at. With almost two thirds of our year taken up with illnesses and a broken fly screen on Gabby most of our travelling has been in our minds. There has been a void between what we wanted to achieve and what we actually achieved. April and the French holiday passed us by. Planned trips around the U.K never materialised. Even when thought we would get away we were tied up waiting for probate and oaths to be signed at the solicitors offices. We were trapped waiting for valuers and now waiting for someone to want to buy Glenns mums house.

Our summer has sadly come to an end. Gone are the long hot days. Replaced by rain and dull moments. The last bank holiday of the year a week away. Our search for a new home hit new depths . We found a few but they proved too rural , dependent on oil central heating or coal or they were in the middle of housing estates too near busy roads. Nothing seemed remotely perfect. Why were we bothering I wondered? The mornings are getting darker and the nights are drawing in. We still don't know if we will get away on our Spanish travels in September. We ring SMC and are told that it is likely that Gabby will get her new fly screen before we go away and it will be completed under warranty. We get impatient and ring again. It is still not in and it is early days. We don't wait very patiently and try again a week later. The factories in Germany are on holiday. We don't know if they are on holiday as we speak. Have they started already? Are they half way through? We never did find out the answer. We moved to Plan B. Would we need to cancel the holiday? Should we go in Gabby and book in into a gite for a fortnight ? That was Plan C - we even moved to Plan D which involved changing the booking for a car and hiring two gites. We need to ring again next week.

Confucious said " When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached , then don't just adjust the goals, adjust the steps" and that was just what we did. We remained optimistic and pencilled in a call to SMC next week. Fingers crossed the fly screen will be in and we can book Gabby in for her repair.

To adjust our steps we went back in time. Twenty years ago we had driven past Ladybower Reservoir the site known just not only for providing Sheffield with water but for the Damnbusters, 617 squadron, Barnes Wallis and his bouncing bomb. So what were we looking for? We were looking for three reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley lying approximately 10 miles (16 km) from Glossop and 10 miles (16 km) from Sheffield. Derwent is around 1 and a half miles in length and we could see it from the road. The last time we came it was quite isolated with few visitors . Today pull ins along the road were heaving with visitors .

Construction of the neo-Gothic masonry began as early as 1902. The huge stones were carried by a specially created railway from the quarries at Bole Hill. 1000 workers year after the building of Howden commenced, and proved a mammoth task. The huge stones that formed the walls of the dam were carried along a specially created railway from the quarries at Bole Hill. . Over 1,000 workers lived in a specially constructed self-contained town called Birchinlee.

The filling of the reservoir began in November 1914, and overflowed for the first time in January 1916, with the water almost immediately passing into supply. The dam can support a total of 9.64 million cubic metres of water. Only two years later it was realised that the supply was not enough and work started to construct Labybower to the south between 1935 and 1945. Our plan as to head to Ladybower and see the monument to celebrate the activities of the Dambusters and Sir Barnes Wallis the inventor the bouncing bomb. 617 squadron were the squadron who practiced using the bombs on the Derwent dams before attacking the dams of the Ruhr Valley during World War II.

So what went wrong? We got to the gate and the car park. A large sign barred the way. I tried to read it and thought it said the road was closed on Bank Holidays and weekends. Glenn thought it was closed all the time. We rode round and in the end decided not to try it and our visit to the dam didn't happen.

Instead to went for lunch . A carvery with seasonal vegetables. Not the day we had intended but sometimes things don't go according to plan.


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