New Mills (trip round the bridges and a reverse Archimedes screw)

Male green veined white one of our walks on Tuesday

I know I said yesterday that our mooring between Furness Vale and New Mills is quiet and it is, apart from in the rush hour.  Cyclists appear around eight in the morning and again at five in the afternoon.  It seems they are commuting between Whaley Bridge and Swizzels sweet factory at New Mills.  It must be an easy commute for them as it is level and the towpath is made up all the way.

The made up 'cycle' towpath outside the boat

I also mentioned that Canada geese are nesting on the opposite bank; the males (ganders) get very protective when the females (geese) leave their nests to swim to the towpath side where they can have a quick graze on the grass.  They get very agitated and don’t stop squawking until their partners are back on their nests.  I’m not sure if they are telling the geese off for leaving their nest or warning other birds not to come near whilst the nest is empty.  The behaviour seems to happen every three hours or so throughout the day and night.

We sat outside on the towpath for a couple of hours first thing on Tuesday morning and then set out for a walk around New Mills.  We walked down to the River Goyt and then followed it into the town.  It wasn’t until we got there that we found out just how many bridges there are in New Mills.  With two railway lines and two rivers running through it it’s not really surprising especially as the rivers run through in deep gorges.

Pott bridge carrying our footpath over the River Goyt

Don’t worry, I’m not going to include lots of pictures of all the bridges 😉, but I am including a couple more as they fascinated us.

Union bridge with the Torr Mill bridge and weir in the foreground

Union bridge was built in the 1880’s and carries Union Street, the main road that leads out of New Mills to the south.  The ruins at the bottom on the right are all that remains of the five storey Torr Mill that was built in 1790 as a cotton mill and burnt down in 1912.  The mill was originally driven by water and a steam engine was added in the 1830s.  Cotton production ceased in 1890 and a fustian cutting company took over until the disastrous fire.  Fustian is a new word on me so I had to include it.

In the centre of the picture is Torr Mill bridge, built in 1804 and was the main route out of New Mills until the massive Union bridge was built above it. 

The little hut building on the far right houses the controls to the UK’s first community funded and owned hydro powered scheme.  The water drives a reverse Archimedes screw to generate the electricity which is used by the Coop store at the top of the gorge with the balance going into the National Grid.  I have rather assumed that the screw is reverse because Archimedes original invention was to use his screw to raise water.

An early photograph of Torr Mill from Steve Lewis’s website on the history of New Mills (

Walking upstream we passed Queens bridge which reminded us immediately of the double arched bridge on the Shropshire Union canal.

Queens bridge

Queens bridge was built in 1835 to carry the turnpike to Thornsett; the road is now called Church Road.   The lower arches were added in 1888 as part of strengthening works that had to be carried out.

Running under Queens bridge are the remains of the millstream that used to run down from a weir higher upstream down to drive the water wheel at Torr Mill.  I have a book on the watermills of the River Darent in Kent it was from there that I learnt that millstreams are also called leats, headraces or millraces.

The last bridge I am showing is Neds Mill bridge which crosses over the leat to Neds Mill cottage.

Neds Mill bridge in the foreground with the bed of the leat running on underneath Queens bridge

Neds Mill cottage no longer stands but was built for the men who oversaw the running of the leat.

On our return walk to the boat we passed through many narrow gates (as opposed to kissing gates).  I wonder if these exceptionally narrow openings were made to discourage fat people from walking around the area.  As we are a politically correct family we refer to people by the number of pies they eat a week, rather than their size.  I doubt if even a one-pie would get through these gates 😉

Just squeezing through one of the narrow gates
There were plenty of butterflies on the wing, mainly orange tips with the odd small, green veined and large white.  We also saw speckled woods and brimstones.  The green veined white at the top is distinguished from small whites and female orange tips (they look similar from a distance) by the greenish looking veins on the underwings.  Orange tips are mottled underneath and small whites a pale yellowy green.  It is a male as it has no black spots on the upper wings which further identifies it as a spring brood.

The River Goyt a bit further upstream

The sheep at Goyt farm were obviously used to dogs as they didn’t scatter when Buddy walked on the other side of the fence.

Buddy and a sheep having a mutual sniff

In the early evening we went for a walk to New Mills Newtown station to see how long it will take Karen on Wednesday morning.  She is going to Wilmslow to shop for a dress for Sophie’s wedding which is at the beginning of June.  To get there we walked past Swizzels factory which, when the wind is in the right direction, can be smelt from quite a way away.  Amongst other famous sweets they make Parma Violets, Refreshers and Love Hearts.  The pervasive smell is from Parma Violets which Karen loves and I dislike intensely (the sweets not the smell 😉).

Rain permitting, I shall probably service the engine and do other man things whilst she is away on Wednesday 😊

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