Friday, February 23, 2007

The Scotsman's Pack

This pub features regularly in the pages of my blog and has been a favourite haunt of mine for a great many years.
I first went there with
my grandfather before the war; I would have been about five years old at the time. I remember he had taken me to see the new reservoir being built in the Derwent valley where the inhabitants of a village had been re-settled prior to the flooding. It was the very last day that the village would be accessible. I could see the huge viaduct overhead; it looked massive compared with the winding road where we were walking.
After the closure of the
roads, the wooden buildings were burnt down but the rest of the structures, including the church, were left to be covered. Today, the village of Ashopton lies beneath the deep waters of the reservoir.
There is an older reservoir further up the vall
ey and again a village, Howden, was flooded in the construction. It is very distinctive as it has two turrets on the dam wall that are very impressive.
It was here, in 1943 th
at the RAF rehearsed the raids on the Mohne, Eder and Scorpe dams in the heavily industrialised Ruhr valley. Unfortunately, although the dams were breached, it cost the lives of many of the aircrew who took part in the raid. The reason for the raid wasn’t as some may think to flood the lower Ruhr valley and destroy factories. It was to deprive the canal system in the region of water. Canal transport was the easiest and cheapest way of delivering munitions from the region and a closure of the waterways would have had a serious effect on the distribution of vital supplies.
However, the raid didn’t have any adverse effect on the canal system as they were fed, not only by the Mohne and Eder rivers but from the Weser
, Fulda, Ruhr, Lippe and, of course, the Rhine!
Once a year on the anniversary of th
e raid, a lone Lancaster bomber, The City of Lincoln, flies over the dams. It is a tribute to all those who took part in 1943.

Ashopton village April1939

My grandfather loved Derbyshire and he had visited every town and village in the Peak District. He was a great rambler and he took me with him on many of his walks. I was there when he took the photograph above. It shows the viaduct being built over the valley.
The ‘Pack’ was one o
f his favourite watering holes and although not a heavy drinker, he liked a couple of pints after a long walk. In later years, I would go out there with friends on motor bikes. I had my first bike when I was 17. It was a Douglas T48 model 350cc twin. I remember that my uncle bought me a pewter tankard when he was over one time that year. It was the custom in those days to leave one’s tankard at a favourite pub. Naturally, I kept mine at the ‘Pack’! I didn’t use it much though, for only two months later, I was reporting to a military camp in Aldershot to commence my army training.
I still managed to get out to
the ‘Pack’ whenever I was on leave. I took a succession of girl-friends there, as I had bought a car when I was 20. Unfortunately, girl-friends were few and far between as I wasn’t in the same spot long enough in those days to form any lasting relationships.
At the ripe old age of 23, I got married to my dancing partner and we had three children in four years. This didn’t give us much time for socialising. However, from time to time I managed a night out with the lads and where did we all go? Yup, the ‘Pack’!
It was only natural, I su
ppose, that I took Iris there shortly after we had met and it became one of our regular haunts. In those days, as I think I have mentioned before, the landlord kept a pet fox and she was allowed to wander round the bar area. She was called Sandy and Iris loved to cuddle her and she would happily sit on her knee for ages! The fox is still to be seen there but these days it is as a stuffed display. Sadly, Sandy was run over by a car outside the pub in 1978. Iris was heartbroken when we heard about it.
I’ve mentioned the famous chair before; the one supposed to have belonged to Little John of Robin Hood legend. Over the
years, I have taken several friends there and photographed them sitting in the chair. Some of these friends have featured in this blog and I have produced photographs of them.

The ‘Pack’ remains to this day, my favourite Derbyshire haven and now, I only take very special friends there. However, I shall be returning soon with another beautiful lady and once again the old chair will be graced with a new occupant! It is truly a very delightful place and the cuisine is second to none.

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