At Dimmingsdale, Forestry England have turned an aristocrat’s dream into a delight for everyone, with partners including the Ramblers Retreat helping to keep the legacy alive.
For many centuries Dimmingsdale and the surrounding woodlands were an industrial haven. The valley was filled with woodcutters, corders and colliers, who worked to create charcoal. All of these local workers paid rent to the Earl of Shrewsbury for use of Dimmingsdale, which formed part of the Alton Towers Estate.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, local metal ores from the Peak District such as lead and iron were brought to Dimmingsdale and smelted using charcoal as fuel. Power to work bellows, hammers and mills was harvested from fast-flowing streams.
By the 19th century, most of the remote, small industries had declined, leaving Dimmingsdale as a scene of industrial squalor. A legacy of disused mills, dammed pools and tracks were left.
It was around this time that the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury was impressed with the valley that his family had previously ignored. He was impressed by the landscape of sandstone outcrops and narrow ravines and thus decided to take up a full-time residence in the Alton Towers Estate. As a result, the 15th Earl chose to transform Dimmingsdale into his own personal country paradise as an addition to his Alton Towers Estate, thus creating this glorious valley now rich with wildlife and historical gems.
And now Forestry England has turned an aristocrat’s dream into a delight for all to enjoy, by creating a range of walks throughout this tranquil valley, restoring the Earl’s Drive, bridges, ponds and embarking on a series of conservation projects to transform temporary conifer plantations to habitat rich broadleaf woodland.