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.