I had a lovely weekend drifting through the English countryside on a canal boat, Rakiraki. It was a bit different to the usual weekend out in the Peaks because I saw a side to the coutryside that you don't normally get to see, being on the canals and moving at a slow pace takes you back to a time before we moved everywhere at 100 miles an hour. I found it really relaxing, sitting on the front deck and watching the world go by, and even having a go at steering and operating the locks! There was the option to stop at pubs, go on walks and be active, or to chill out in the cabin. I met new people onboard and found the homecooked meals and delicious baked snacks added to the relaxed atmosphere, with the hosts Ruth and Mark creating a really sociable environment. So if you're the kind of person who is up for meeting new people, don't mind living in close quarters and want to see the Peaks in a different way, I'd really recommend it.
This is an excellent cavern to go and visit when you're in the Peak District; it's quite dry through most of it, it is well lit with safe hand rails and the guides are informative and friendly.
The tour takes about 40 minutes and there are around 200 steps to go down and then back up again so that's worth bearing in mind if you have trouble climbing steps.
We visited both of the Blue John caverns (the other one being the Treak Cliff Cavern) and we thought this tour was much better.
Excellent house and gardens.
OPENING TIMES 2003
Now open until 21 December 2003
11.00am - 5.30pm, last admission 4.30pm
Last admission to the Scots Bedrooms is 4.00pm
(9 extra rooms, not always open)
We took the cable car ride to the top and went down the Great Masson Cavern.
A short video followed by a guided tour. As ever plenty of slippery steps and places to bang your head.
Spectacular views from the top of the hill.
Good family fun.
Treak Cliff Cavern - This cavern is one of the two Blue John Caverns in the Peaks, both of which you can pay and take a guided tour into.
It is all very nice with stalagmites and stalactites and veins of Blue John running through the walls, but our trip turned out to be memorable only for the miserable tour guide who took us through there. When we turned up there was a guy in the shop who was as miserable as sin and we thought 'I hope he's not our tour guide'................fortunately not, but unfortunately for us we got his younger, more miserable colleague instead. What a downer!
Sorry I can't write more about the cavern, but that's all I can remember, the bloke with the face like a wet weekend and the monotonous voice (like he was reading it all from a book!).
My advice, don't go there - go to the other cavern instead which is called the 'Blue John Cavern' and is on the other side of the hill, through the pass (Winnat's Pass). We'd been to the other one too and the tour there was really good with an informative guide who was chatty and approachable - it was a much better tour and a better cavern.
Late spring and summer sees the pagan custom of well dressing to the Peak District villages. This ancient tradition of thanking the spirits for providing the local water supply was banned by the early church and revived 'only' in the 1300s. These days it's a means of celebrating the community's history and faith, all in the spirit of friendly competition with neighbouring villages.
More than just some flowers stuck to a board, the process starts with a wooden frame soaked in the local river for a few days which is then filled with wet clay. Intricate patterns and illustrations are then created by pressing on thousands of flower petals. The process takes many days and the end result may last a week at the most.
The Derbyshire Tourism Group publishes a free calendar of well dressing displays, ring Chesterfield TIC on 01246 345 777.
Although much of the Peak District may seem a bleak place, especially when the weather is not good, it sustained a large population throught prehistoric times (when the climate was probably slightly better)
It abounds in earthworks, stone circles, barrow and tumuli. An Ordnance survey (OS) map of the area will show you all of these, the majority of which can easily be accessed on foot.
lists and has links to many such sites (not just stone circles).
At Cresswell Crags England's first examples of prehistoric cave art have been found; you can't see these as they are too precious, but you can visit the archaeological park there:
Arbor Low (between Ashbourne and Buxton) is the best henge monument in northern England. I have a travelogue about it at http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/9d738/#TL
Well worth visiting the site.
The delightful village of Castleton is an ideal base from which to explore the Peak District. The village has lots of small shops, tea rooms and a couple of pubs. There's an excellent Visitor Centre (next to the main car park) which has lots of information about the history of the area plus lots of books/maps etc (see 'more photos')
Nearby attractions include Blue John Mine, Speedwell Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern, Mam Tor and Edale.
The ruins of Peverill Castle overlook Castleton -- the castle was built in 1080 by William Peveril, the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror.
If you dont like heights, then this isnt the place for you. I was terrified both on the way up and back down again! These are Britains first Alpine style cable cars, and go up in groups of three, each holding up to 6 people, although my husband insisted just me, him and our son travel together as I was so anxious.
The views are spectacular, I did manage a quick look around, and about half way up (and back) the cars stop to allow passengers on and off top and bottom, so you get plenty of photo opportunities. At the top are show caves, shops, places to eat, kids play area and plenty of walks to see the views across the valley.
Butterton is a tiny Peak district village, on the edge of rolling moorland and with excellent walks all around. It's got the most amazing ford. Normally, this is just where a stream crosses a road, and you have a slightly splashy bit but in Butterton you have to actually drive along the stream for about 50 yards! Most peculiar, and certainly not something to attempt after heavy rain; the people who live there must have excellent 4x4 vehicles.
Take a trip to the Speedwell Cavern where you take a boat with a guide through the underground river and the old mines. It's great fun and a great atmosphere, you get to see what mining was like along with a great treat at the end of the boat ride! The caverns and caves themselves and their cool formations! You can look right into the Devils Arse and say you've done so!!
It's great fun, you get a great guide, and it's a bit creepy to be honest, but a whole lotta fun!
In the south-west corner of the Peak District, close to the village of Cheddleton, the Churnet Valley Railway operates steam and diesel train services from Cheddleton station to Kingsley & Froghall station, a distance of some 10 miles through the delighful Churnet Valley of Staffordshire. The services operate most weekends from the beginning of March to the end of September but please check the timetable on the website below -- and please note the steam service only operates on certain dates -- otherwise it's diesel.
Very close to Cheddleton station are the Churnet River and Caldon Canal which offer very nice walking -- heading north for about a mile brings you to a historic flint mill -- although flint milling there dates back to the 18th century, there is evidence of a mill on that site going back to the 13th century.
It's a very nice area indeed -- you can take a train ride and at the same time enjoy walking through some beautiful countryside.
The small village of Longnor is a nice place to visit -- 3 or 4 pubs serving food surround the village square and the old market hall which dates back to 1873 is now a pleasant craft centre and cafe.
Longnor is a useful centre if you're exploring the upper parts of the River Manifold and the River Dove.
The small village of Ilam provides a good starting point to work north along the River Dove in Dove Dale or west along the River Manifold.
The village was inhabited in Saxon times and there are two Saxon crosses in the churchyard and inside the church is the tomb of the Saxon saint Bertram.
Ilam Hall provides beautiful walking along Paradise Walk by the River Manifold.
The tiny village of Milldale consists of one shop, a few houses and a small information barn, but it's an ideal place to park your car if you want to go walking along the River Dove, either north to Wolfscote Dale or south to Dove Dale.