Sunday, April 10, 2005


We set out early yesterday morning and journeyed out towards Ipstones and Onecoat and then down to the stunning Manifold Valley. The morning was bright and clear but very cold. Occasionally the liquid sun would break through the clouds to fool us into thinking it was warmer but believe me it wasn't. We parked close to Wetton Mill and donned warm coats and walking boots. There were very few people around at 9.30a.m. which meant we had the track way more or less to ourselves. Our intention was to walk up to Thor's Cave. We'd passed by it once before and this time intended to go up and have a look. Perched high above the valley on its rocky outcrop it looks very impressive, its entrance, like a gaping mouth, being visible from miles around.

Apparently local excavations have revealed evidence of Iron Age and Romano-British settlement in the area around the cave. Early last century the cave became quite a tourist attraction when the Leek and Manifold Light Railway was built and visitors would leave the train at the local station and walk up to the cave. This railway was in use from about 1902 to 1934 and the walk along the valley from Hulme End to Wetton mill uses the line of the old railway track so it is suitable for cycling too. The walkway up to the top was steep but not too taxing and we reached the cave quite quickly. What splendid views there were across the valley, although the wind felt as if it would blow us down to the ground below. There are other smaller caves visible across the valley, and from Thor's cave you can look across to another cave which is up behind the Mill.

As we descended from the cave it began to rain lightly and the sun disappeared, we passed one or two walkers on the way back to Wetton Mill where we stopped in the café for coffee and toast. What a delightful spot for walkers to rest their weary bones for a while. We watched the ducks on the river and the farm cats being fed before we left.

Highlight of the day - managed to buy the Guardian at the local shop - they don't usually stock more than one and you have to get up at the crack of dawn to get it.

Today's Gripe - don't really have one, except when it rains really heavily, we have a leak in the conservatory roof.

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