It was the epitome of grey, but there was something to celebrate. As it was so cold, I elected for an inside rather than outdoors venue. Driving towards Matlock is a pleasant drive, even with the steep descent into the valley. The scenery is fabulous and I am reminded of Shakespeare's 'This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England' and of William Blake's words for Jerusalem 'England's green and pleasant land'. Blake's 'pleasant pastures' do still exist. This is what people who do not live in England imagine it to be like. Green and quaint, countrified and gentile. Not a garden to visit as such but an area where one can walk and enjoy the scenery.
Ah but is was greyer than grey and cold, with a northerly wind. Green maybe, but not pleasant. Still I could not help admiring the landscape and wishing I could wake up every day to gaze on such a scene.
Cromford Mill was Arkwright's Mill but when it closed all the machinery was taken away so there is little left except a display with an annoying over-excited actor's voice-over. The building is still very imposing, but apart from the building itself, what is there now does not reflect the history or heritage of the place at all. The shops are dismal and smell of damp, the cafe is too small even at this time of year it was full by 11.30am and it is all very disappointing. The best shop by far is the quilting shop - that is really good. There is a small plant shop. The spring plants were adding much needed colour and the owner obviously had a liking for Primula. The Ranunculus were looking perfect too. On warmer days there are many walks along the canal and more. There is an estate church, but it was closed. There is another cafe across the road by the canal, a tiny cheese shop and probably the tiniest shop in the world selling canalware art.
There is some redevelopment of the site, so I hope it improves with a new vision. This has to be the most disappointing venue for a World Heritage Site.
We were directed to Masson Mill to see textile machinery but we arrived at the wrong time to see the machines working so opted not to go in. There is something akin to an outlet centre here, all smelling very musky. Not at all what I expected, but the setting is fabulous. It seems a shame that the Mills' current usage has not been developed by someone who loves textiles, who could have created an experience for this site that includes the former most prominent cotton mill. As it was the best thing about the venue, apart from the views, was an antiques shop outside the centre across the road.
Words, work and images copyright Karen Platt 2016