Around these parts our towns and villages are hugely influenced by the natural environment around us. I’m fortunate that a 2 minute walk brings me to fields and hills, a five minute drive can lean to expansive countryside and a 20 minute drive leads me to the edge of the Peak District.
Many local towns were built on either coal from the mines or textiles leveraging the rivers for power. This is easy to forget even though we are surrounded by green.
I was principally raised on the outskirts of a town called Ripley, mentioned in the doomsday book, Ripley grew on the back of coal and clay. Both industries played a part in my childhood with my school built above old mines which shifted occasionally smashing panes of glass and a local opencast mine affected the immediate countryside.
Butterley Brickworks was across the way, you could hear the shift siren notifying a change of staff.
Behind my house over a handful of gardens and the main road through the town to Derby was a valley formed by a small waterway named Bottle Brook. We played here all the time, made dams in the water, walked a friends dog, sledged down the steep sides in winter. We also walked to school “across the fields”, down into the valley, across the bridge and followed the brook to the brickworks, between the stacks of bricks, dodging the forklifts. We were taken there with school to do geography experiments, counting bugs, measuring gradients and checking on water quality.
We now live in a village 10 minutes down the road from Ripley. The road follows the route of the brook for some time. It’s a delight to me that it’s the same brook that formed the valley that I sledge down with my kids. It’s the brook that floods the lower part of Kilburn in bad winter storms (we live up the hill, well away from that). And it’s by the brook that you can find Kilburn Nature Reserve.
It’s something of a grand name for a patch of land crammed between Kilburn Toll Bar crossroads and Bottle Brook with a few installed steps, benches and bins. It is however surprisingly peaceful and in the summer, pretty lush. There’s an open patch of grass and a couple of small trails leading southward a few 100 yards.
It’s nothing to boast about really, but I did take a few snaps the other day and put a 360º panorama together, which you can see below.