A river in time: the story of a peak district river by Christine Gregory. Grafika, Bakewell, Derbyshire, 2013. No. of pages: x+148. Price: UK£15.99. ISBN 978-0-9541089-4-6 (paperback)


Coincidence is a fine thing. I don't believe I've ever noted a book on one river and its dale(s) in Derbyshire, one of my favourite areas for both fieldwork in the Carboniferous and walking, yet, just as I set a project for a master's student on screwstones from Bradford Dale, along came Christine Gregory's beautiful book.

A River in Time is well written and beautifully illustrated, and is a striking record of one of the most tranquil of Derbyshire's rivers. The text is enlivened by many passages quoting from eye-witnesses to, for example, the days when the River Bradford and its vicinities was an important area for lead mining. The large page size (24 cm wide × 21 cm high) and high quality paper make the very many colour photographs a joy to the eye. This is not a book about geology per se, but the story of the River Bradford is irrevocably intertwined with the Carboniferous geology of the Peak District, and the story comes back to it time and again.

This book is divided into five parts/chapters. ‘The making of the Derbyshire Dales Landscape’ explains the geology of the south Peak District, supported by more detail in an appendix. There is even more on the geomorphological evolution of the landscape as influenced by man. Of those two most euphonious Derbyshire rock types, toadstone is defined (p. 8), but, sadly, I noticed no mention of my favourite screwstone. ‘The River Bradford: a Journey along the River and through the Past’ is a trip down the river to its confluence with the River Lathkill, the descriptive text being supported by many photographs. As I write this on a grey, Dutch February afternoon, glancing through this chapter transports me to a more beautiful place. ‘The Impact of Lead Mining’ is historical, but this is a part of the region's history that has a modern influence. The many mines and drainage soughs, built principally in the 17th to 19th centuries, and modern quarries have had a permanent influence on the scenery and subterranean flow of water in this region. ‘Restoring the River: The River Keeper's Project’ examines the successful, but ongoing, project to restore the river to its pre-industrial state. ‘The Future’ looks at both how this development is being influenced by climate change and how the independent Youlgrave Waterworks Ltd. is adapting to modern demands.

I recommend this fine volume, which is attractively produced, highly informative and with much to offer anyone who enjoys the scenery of Derbyshire's Peak District. Many strands of the story are geological and geomorphological, such as lead mining, limestone scenery and hydrogeology, all beautifully illustrated with archival and new photographs of scenery, wildlife and industry. And the price, for a book packed with such excellent photographs, seems altogether reasonable.