Sunday, June 20, 2010

Luds Church and the Passages to the Lost World

The Peak District has no shortage of places to visit providing adventure and excitement for youngsters. One such place is Luds church we thought this would provide an ideal outing to wet the appetites of our two youngsters. A recent article in the Guardian newspaper gives an idea of what to expect.

We were on our way to the Staffordshire Peak district which is a fair trek. We experienced the frequent question, are we there yet? Given this situation games and stories were required. One story was about the Wallabies at the Roaches, according to the Daily Mail there have been sightings in the last two years. Of course my family don't believe my story! Keisha however is entertained by the imagery of wallabies with great big red boxing gloves, they come bouncing out of the trees. After our drive to Buxton we headed out towards Leek along the A54, turning off at a village called Flash. Driving through Flash we saw advertisements for annual duck race this allegedly includes a host of other events such as gerbil racing and welly wanging.

We started our walk from a car park near Gradbach youth hostel this was originally a mill as well as good accommodation the hostel provides a good cafe and refreshment stop.

The way to Luds church at the start is a little confusing basically.
  • Start off by following the river Dane
  • There is a footbridge which goes over the black brook (do not walk up this valley)
  • Head up through the wood along a path signed for Danebridge
The path climbed up quite steeply through the woods, we continued on to Castle Rocks marked as a spot height at 310m. This was an excellent opportunity for a snack break. Castle rocks provided a good scrambling opportunity for Keisha who referred to the rocks as mountains and happily clambered to the very top. Even Louis attempted some of the boulders.

Louis enjoying freedom from the carrier and practising with the walking sticks.

We continued on up a path through the woods which appeared to take us back in the direction from which we had come. I spotted some carved stone steps and said "up here" this seemed quite surprising and the way into the chasm is like some secret passages to a lost world we expected to see a blue character from the fictional Na-vi tribe in the film Avatar. As it is very nearly midsummer the sun is high in the sky and provides excellent illumination for an area which might otherwise be a dank dripping chasm.

There is a good selection of photographs of this place at geograph and linked on google. It is not surprising that this special place was used as a place of worship and has featured in tails such as Gawain and the Green Knight. We explored a number of crevices and forks in this micro grand canyon Louis, perched in the carrier on my back enjoyed the narrowness of the passage and was rubbing his hands along the walls and in the dirt. Luds church is a chasm 15m high and 100m in length, it was formed by a land slip. Good directions to Luds church are provided on Wikipedia this article also provides good descriptions of the geological origins, history and famous characters associated with the place.

After walking through the chasm we headed up through the woods and onto the moors below the main ridge we found a good lunch spot.
We spotted a pair of mating bumble bees (below)

Fortunately there was an ice cream van at Roach end. Keisha needed some encouragement to keep moving. On our return journey along the Black Brook valley we played counting games. This involved us counting up to 10 whilst Keisha would walk ahead. On such a hot day as this Keisha is doing well to keep going.

We returned in time to celebrate our friends 40th birthday with a barbecue at their house, Keisha and Louis enjoyed bouncing around on a trampoline.... well that says it all doesn't it you think they've had a tiring hard walk but in actual fact they have yet more energy reserves!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A long awaited climb

We had planned to take Keisha to Birchen Edge for her first proper roped climb last weekend. We practised in the garden with the harness and ropes and pulled Keisha up on the climbing frame. She awoke all excited the next morning to rain, rain and more rain so after waiting all week we finally got out. We all put on our rucksacks and Mike put Louis on his back, the climbing sack felt very heavy. Im sure Mike had put in some extra rocks or something to help get me fit.
We walked along the path to the end of the edge where Mike had spotted the ideal spot for the first climb, it was a route known as the gangplank and recommended by friends from the Castle Mountaineering Club. Keisha's harness was quickly on and she went up to the top with Daddy to place the anchors. She was very excited. They threw down the pink rope which was although not pink deliberately added to the whole experience. Louis at this point was very excited and started playing with the rope. It was truly amazing to watch Keisha climbing up the rock like a little crag rat, she seemed to have a natural ability to find all the holds and was giving us a running commentary, she was very proud to reach the top. At this point, I took over belaying from Mike and was very proud of myself as this was my first time apart from our practice in the garden. Mike climbed up to meet her and we encouraged her to abseil down. She appeared to enjoy leaning back when she was lower down and just hanging. Belaying Keisha proved painful as louis was in the backpack and decided to take advantage of the fact that both my hands were on the rope and I was unable to let go and so spent the whole time pulling my hair!!! Not funny.

Keisha then decided to do the route all over again. She was very proud of herself. Mike and I were absolutely thrilled with her and for her. And the photos speak for themselves.
Louis and I made a quick descent to the carpark and he had a sleep in the carrier and Mike and Keisha packed up the climbing gear and followed on. A great afternoon at Birchens.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tideswell Dale and Hammeton Hill

On a hot and bright summer day we started a walk from a car park outside Tideswell (OS Grid reference SK154742). We followed a track southwards through Tideswell dale. Our walk started with reading a poem carved in a bench, this is shown below, the poem captures some of the wonderful experiences of days in the Peak District. It is not surprising that our walk gave rise to some interesting challenges!

Tideswell dale has been decorated with a few wonder sculptures, most entertaining for the younsgters. Added entertainment for us included playing pooh sticks.

The limestone dales are excellent for a diverse range of flora and as is normal for walks in the dales at this time of year we observed different orchids, including a marsh orchid shown below. We saw spotted orchids and pink orchids.

A collection of leadwort.
The peak district information web provides a useful summary of Derbyshire dales flora.
Flowers of the dales
At Keishas suggestion we headed out of the dale and walked up a long series of steps, this concessionary path lead us to the top of Hammerton hill (OS grid reference SK157734). The route was somewhat confusing and uncertain, at this point we followed dry stone walls and found gates allowing us to join up with the path at Litton slack that took us to tideswell dale again. The red line on the map below illustrates the route we followed. At the top of the hill Keisha started tiring insisting that she be carried and complaining about the cold. It must be said that after the hot valley floor we had made our way up to a cool pasture. Flowers and rabbits what a picture.

It was good to drop back down into Litton village, time for a spot of lunch but first we must make our way back to the dale and find a good lunch spot.
Litton village web site
Lunch was good both Louis and Keisha enjoyed running around. It's clear that although Louis moves with good speed he has no concept of direction and runs off to whatever attracts his young attention. It's not so bad (for Louis ) he seems to like being carried. After lunch Keisha didn't really recover her lost energy we attributed her awkwardness to a number of late nights. Time to put Keisha to bed at the right time!