PLACES

Derbyshire Life - - Peo­ple -

1: In its hey­day it was known as ‘Ru­ral Rot­ter­dam’ and ‘Lit­tle Liver­pool’. Which river port is this?

2: This vil­lage’s church clock com­mem­o­rates Queen Vic­to­ria’s Di­a­mond Ju­bilee of 1897. Where is it?

3: The world’s first and old­est sur­viv­ing rail­way round­house, built in 1839 by four ri­val rail com­pa­nies – but where is it?

4: This me­mo­rial to 121 lo­cal men who died in the 1914-18 war was un­veiled on 31st July 1927 by Gen­eral Sir Ho­race Smith-Dor­rien, a for­mer of­fi­cer of the Sher­wood Foresters who fought in the Zulu Wars of 1879. (The Me­dia Ar­chive for Cen­tral Eng­land has amaz­ing live footage of the cer­e­mony to view on­line.) In which town is it?

5: Name this High Peak lo­ca­tion which had a star­ring role on TV ear­lier this cen­tury.

6: Fi­nally, can you name this other fa­mous film lo­ca­tion from the last cen­tury in the vil­lage that is also a burial place of kings?

ast sum­mer I worked as a vol­un­teer on the Der­byshire Wildlife Trust/Na­tional Trust’s badger vac­ci­na­tion pro­gramme in the Edale val­ley. On many of the days when I was tramp­ing up hill or down dale I would stop to chat with the lo­cal farm­ers when­ever our tracks crossed.

Our con­ver­sa­tions of­ten roamed far and wide but one chunter stuck firmly in my mind, the chang­ing sounds of spring. Both my­self and the farmer rec­ol­lected just how quiet spring had be­come. In many ways it re­minded me of a book I read in 1978 when I was study­ing for my de­gree in En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence. The book was ti­tled Silent

Spring and had been writ­ten by one of the most in­flu­en­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tists of the last mil­len­nium, Rachel Car­son. I men­tioned this to the farmer and we chat­ted about how suc­cess­ful the book had been in re­veal­ing the hid­den cost to wildlife of in­dis­crim­i­nate pes­ti­cide use. We both agreed that her mes­sage was still rel­e­vant to­day. Spring on many farms is just too quiet!

What the farmer and I were re­fer­ring to was the huge re­duc­tion in the num­ber of small song­birds, lap­wings and cuck­oos. Lap­wings have de­clined dra­mat­i­cally in both Der­byshire and the UK since the Sec­ond World War. How­ever, the fastest de­cline has oc­curred far more re­cently. In the dale where I had been chat­ting to the farmer we both re­mem­bered just how the sky above each field of rough grass was once cut by the tum­bling flight of this fan­tas­tic black-and-white bird. The air would be redo­lent with the char­ac­ter­is­tic call of the lap­wing – a sharp, dis­tinc­tive ‘peee-wit’. In fact the lap­wing was such a char­ac­ter­is­tic bird of both up­land and low­land farms (where the sharpest de­cline has oc­curred) that it earned it­self more ver­nac­u­lar names than any other British bird species. Pee­wit, tuit, tewit, green plover, lap­pinch, horn­pipe and flop­wing to name just a few.

We should all be sad for the loss of such an enig­matic em­blem of our farm­land, yet it is only those of a cer­tain age who can re­mem­ber it be­ing any dif­fer­ent.

‘The first stage in man­ag­ing the land to al­low

lap­wings to re­colonise tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries is to un­der­stand the rea­sons for their de­cline. These are

not hard to un­der­stand’

The first stage in man­ag­ing the land to al­low lap­wings to re­colonise tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries is to un­der­stand the rea­sons for their de­cline. These are not hard to un­der­stand – a switch from spring sown to au­tumn sown crops, a huge in­crease in ni­trate fer­tilis­ers, a loss of rough graz­ing grass­lands, and a switch from hay to silage pro­duc­tion. Clearly, from a farmer’s per­spec­tive, it is not easy to re­verse these. They would all en­tail an eco­nomic penalty, and for many small Der­byshire farm­ers who ex­ist on an eco­nomic knife edge this could act as the un­wel­come tip­ping point.

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