Friday, 9 October 2009

The disappearing countryside

No, not another tale of green space being turned into houses and supermarkets. This countryside literally is disappearing.
Since leaving the Bridgewater Canal two days ago (hurrah!) we’ve entered the eerie landscape of the salt mines. And though we’re in Cheshire not Siberia, the strange, barren countryside with ruined houses and factories covered in pipes emitting clouds of steam seems just as forbidding.
Salt has been mined in Cheshire for well over a hundred years. Some ‘panned’ for in open mines but most in huge underground mines big enough for vehicles to drive around with ease.
The result of all this mining has been widespread subsidence causing large lagoons to appear and houses – and even villages to collapse. The village of Marston (home of the Red Lion Salt Works, now just a ruin awaiting restoration) resembles a collapsed cake. Around the edges are some solid looking modern houses while in the centre are the skeletons of older, collapsed houses.
And all the way along the canal through to Middlewich are just, faceless factories producing salt in vast quantities for your salt cellar and dishwasher.

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