The River Etherow, powerful enough in its time to carve a steep valley into the hills, has been tamed by a number of reservoirs. For centuries it has been important in trans-Pennine communications: a packhorse route for the salt trade in the Middle Ages, a turnpike road in the 18th century, and today, as you can see and hear, a busy road for cars and heavy lorries. In the 19th century the two Woodhead railway tunnels were built, and twenty eight of the men who were killed are buried here in St James's churchyard. On the surrounding hillsides you can see the spoil heaps for the quarries from which stone was taken to build the railway and the dams. It's worth going in search of the vicarage, which still remains, a fine stone house whose front door is framed by cherry trees.
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