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A Memory of Birch Vale

I used to live at Spring Villa on the main road in Birch Vale in the 1970s and what fond memories I have from Birch Vale! My three older brothers and I used to walk up behind the house through some farming land and across to the quarry where we would spend many hours exploring the gravel pit pond for pond life, bicycling down the hill, playing in some sort of strange cement pool that was always full of discarded furniture. We also walked up a path/road behind the house and discovered many things along the way, such as another big cement pond, also full of water and furniture where we would occasionally swim. I remember the television tower. One day we came across a hole in the middle of a fenced in pasture and my brothers had me climb down the ladder that extended down this hole...I didn't get very far because it just ended in nothingness! I have always wondered what this place was. I remember a spare lot just down the road that was full of pear trees and one day my brother constructed a pulley system that he attached to two large trees, upon which we used to spend countless hours. There was another magical place down the road toward Watford that we used to call The India Rubber Desert. I have no idea what this place was, but it seemed like a jungle to us and was full of sand and small ponds. Does anyone remember the sweet shop at the end of the road? Another favorite place was the reservoir across the road. We used to fish for rudd and catch little frogs there, then walk over to another small pond that probably belonged to the old, defunct mill. The pond had an island in the middle of it. The woods just beyond this pond were a great place to explore. My brothers rigged up a fantastic "Tarzan" swing and built a treehouse that I was forbidden from using (but I found a way up!). When I revisited Birch Vale in 2004, it was sadly very different and the old mill had been converted into some kind of plastics factory. It was very strange seeing men in huge, white protective suits behind high-security walls. One thing that luckily seemed to have remained the same was Lantern Pike, up which we had a lovely walk. I remember also going almost weekly to Buxton baths and spending hours on the grounds, even seeing someone break their arm getting flung from the roundabout and dragged under it. It was very exciting! Lyme Park was another favorite place, especially the train ride around the grounds and the excellent pulley that seemed so dangerous but was so thrilling! Seeing deer walking around the grounds was a highlight too, and I remember thinking that Father Christmas lived in that big house. Walks around Dove Holes, up Kinder, rock climbing at Wind Gather where I once spotted a wallaby...What a wonderful place for a child...

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