Yarncliffe quarry, aka Bolehill Quarry, Padley Gorge

Wandering among the silver birch you will stumble upon the crumbling remains of Bole Hill’s industrial past – the detritus of an industry that provided millions of tons of rock for the nearby Derwent and Howden dams in the early 20th Century. Amongst the tracks that carried the old railway you’ll find the remnants of buildings, platforms and the occasional abandoned or broken millstone.

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Also known as Yarncliffe quarry this is a place where you can sit or roam in solitude, contemplating the dual impact of industry and nature as you watch climbers scale the scoured out sides of the quarry.

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The strange and eerie atmosphere of Bole Hill, cloaked in silver birch, conceals the quarry workings, now silent, of an industry that provided millions of tons of rock for the nearby Derwent and Howden dams in the early years of the 20th Century. The infamous millstones can also be found here

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Archaeologists argue about the origins of the stone circle on Lawrence field at the north-west corner of the estate, though most agree there is evidence of tree clearance and enclosures dating certainly to the Vikings and possibly as far back as the Bronze Age.

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Longshaw – literally ‘long wood’ – Lodge was built as a shooting box for the then Duke of Rutland. Over the centuries the area has been a centre for charcoal burning to provide fuel for Sheffield’s smelting industries and millstone quarrying for the local cotton and woollen mills. In the early 20th century it provided stone for the reservoir dams in nearby Derwent Valley. It has also been an important trading route for salt, silk, wool, and lead.

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Derwent Reservoir is the middle of three reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley in the north east of Derbyshire, England. The River Derwent flows first through Howden Reservoir, then Derwent Reservoir and finally through Ladybower Reservoir. Between them they provide practically all of Derbyshire’s water, as well as to a large part of South Yorkshire’s and as far afield as Nottingham and Leicester.

Derwent Reservoir is around 1.5 mi (2 km) in length, running broadly north-south, with Howden Dam at the northern end and Derwent Dam at the south. A small island lies near the Howden Dam. The Abbey Brook flows into the reservoir from the east.

At its peak the reservoir covers an area of 70.8 hectares (175 acres) and at its deepest point is 34.7 metres deep.

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The Industrial Revolution and urbanisation of the 19th century created huge demand for water in the industrial cities of the East Midlands and South Yorkshire. The proximity of Sheffield and its neighbours to the Upper Derwent valley were thus factors in the decision to dam the valley to create the Howden and Derwent dams.

The neo-Gothic solid masonry dam was begun in 1902, a year after Howden was started, 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 Grindleford. Over 1,000 workers lived in a specially constructed self-contained town called Birchinlee[1] or “Tin Town”. One of the metal huts was preserved and moved to the village of Hope, where it is now a hairdressing salon. The workers that died during the construction of the dam were buried in Bamford Church.

The reservoir was first begun to be filled 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 after the dam’s completion in 1916, it was decided that the flow from the reservoir was insufficient to support the surrounding population. As a result, between 1920 and 1931 the rivers Alport and Ashop were also diverted from the Ashop valley into the reservoir using tunnels and a Venturi Flume.

The diversion helped hold back water during the construction of the Ladybower Reservoir to the south, which was constructed between 1935 and 1945.

Between 1901 and 1903 a standard gauge railway of over 7 miles (11 km) was built from the town of Bamford to the south of the reservoir to Howden, to carry the thousands of tons of stone required for the construction of the two dams. Near to the southern end lay the newly opened quarry at Bole Hill near Grindleford.

Remains of the railway can still be seen alongside Derwent Reservoir as well as at the western end of the Ladybower dam where over 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of cutting and trackway remain, and are known locally as ‘The Route’. Between the Howden and Derwent dams the present road was built over the top of the railway.

After supplying well over a million tons of stone the Bole Hill quarry was closed in September 1914, with the end of the railway following soon after. The section between the mainline railway at Hope and Yorkshire Bridge was relaid in 1935 to aid the construction of the Ladybower dam, but closed again in 1946.

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