Monday, 10 August 2009

Tight fit

The Froghall Tunnel might only be 76 yards long but they're the longest yards you can imagine when you go into it for the first time.

But it's all worthwhile when you come out the other end and lock through into the almost deserted basin leaving all the more modern craft with steep sides and cratches grinding their teeth with frustration outside on the unappealling mooring outside the copper factory.

Even if you can't make the final yards Froghall is still well worth a visit. It's steeped in history – it's almost impossible to believe that not much more than a hundred years ago this tranquil, rural valley was alive with the smoke, noise and grime of limestone mining and burning. At its peak 6000 tons of limestone a week were mined and more than a thousand men worked here.

And what is left? Apart from the giant lime kilns seen here and at Consall, and a cluster of buildings round the basin, including the delightful wharf house pictured, virtually nothing.

We took a three hour walk round the area (the 'Blue Walk' on the information office's map.) We walked up through the valley along the line of the now almost invisible plateway down which waggonloads of limestone descended to the wharf. Here and there can be seen hewn away rock faces while the path below has odd chunks of wall beside it and hewn stone underfoot. Near the top of the slope a magnificent stone accommodation bridge stood in the middle of nowhere, still linking two farmfields above what was the once busy track. The sight of these remnants of a lost past gave a tiny insight into what explorers must have felt as they stumbled onto made man ruins lost in jungle or desert.
The walk then took us out into the open fields at the top of the valley with spectacular views in all directions before bropping back down into the Basin. If you visit you must do it!

1 comment:

Lucy Blick said...

eeugh. That tunnel would have me hyperventilating in seconds. How do you do it?

Excellent post concerning annoying engine runners, by the way. Nick and I agree entirely.