The Moss Valley is located on the border between North East Derbyshire and South Yorkshire, just to the south Sheffield. It lies mostly within green belt land, its central feature being the Moss Brook which flows east for about five miles before entering the River Rother near Eckington.
The map reference SK402804 is at the hamlet of Ford, which is approximately the centre of the valley, just six miles from the centre of Sheffield.
The valley has ancient woodlands, meadows, farmland, hedgerows, ponds and marshland, together with many tributary streams flowing down the sides of the valley into the Moss. Access on foot is by a network of public footpaths criss-crossing the area (although these can be steep in places). The flora and fauna include the common and not so common, but you will see bluebells, lesser celandines, wood avens, betony, various fungi, and many species of trees. Mammals include fox, pipistrelle bat, stoat, bank vole, roe deer and brown hare. There are many bird species and a wide variety of insects. There is something of interest in all seasons of the year.
The valley covers some 3.9 sq. miles and includes 25.9 hectares of SSSI’s (a Site of Special Scientific Interest). Alongside the old farms the valley contains some interesting industrial archaeology.
It was reported that in 1640 George Sitwell (Renishaw Hall) started the Renishaw Ironworks in Foxstone Wood. It was noted that by the end of the 17th beginning of the 18th century the iron trade around Eckington, particularly the manufacture of nails, was prospering. At this time a report stated that in this area more iron nails were being manufactured than anywhere else in the world.
The source of the Moss Brook is a natural spring in Coalpit Wood and is joined on its journey through the valley by six further streams or brooks before it reaches the River Rother. These brooks are:-
Robin Brook, Stickle Brook, Troway Brook, Sloadlane Brook, Ridgeway Brook and Owler Car Brook.
It was also dammed or partially diverted to fill ponds which were used to powered eight water wheels:-
Foxhole Wheel (also known as Woolin Wheel),
Ford Wheel (owned by Joseph Hutton 1796),
Fields Wheel (owned by William Fields 1780),
Carlton Wheel (built around1722),
Kelper Wheel (built around1796),
Slough Wheel (owned by W J Mullins slightly before1796),
Never Fear Wheel (1778),
Park Wheel (flour mill) mentioned in the Domesday Book (owned by William & John Mullins 1796 and Thomas Hutton 1836).
This made the Valley an important centre for the production of flour, cutlery, tree saws and the manufacture/grinding of scythes and sickles. One of the dams Never Fear Dam (pictured top left) is just a short walk downstream from the Bridge Inn at Ford. There is also evidence of charcoal burning and old drift mines which extracted coal from the underlying rock formations, which form part of the coal measures. Seldom Seen Engine House, near Eckington is a surviving relic of the industrial past (pictured on the right). Dating back between 1855 and 1875 it was built to house a winding wheel and associated steam-engine for Plumbley Colliery by John Rhodes the then owner of Plumbley Colliery. The Penny Engine Railway, a dedicated railway line was also built around the same time. It got its name from the practice by which colliers on the payment of one old penny could ride the railway to and from work. The coal it carried initially went to Eckington and onward to the existing Midland railway line at Renishaw. In March 1895 three children and a colliery worker from the engine house died in a tragic accident (for more information and an excellent video on this, follow our link to Natural Eckington).
Gate Inn Troway.
Derbyshire County Council.