Monday, 13 July 2009

Manifold Valley trip

This weekend we went on a camping trip with two of Nathaniel's godparents, James and Beth. Despite the weather forecast of rain pretty much the whole time, on Friday morning we drove to the Manifold Valley in the south of the Peak District National Park.

We had a look at a couple of campsites before we rejected the ones on top of a windy hill and settled on one on the banks of the River Manifold and enjoyed the sun while we set up camp and left complicated messages about not being at the agreed campsite on James and Beth's answer phone.

"Daddy, I think you need more tension on this side..."

"No, I don't know the postcode but I can give you a grid reference!"

We had a good night's sleep - Nathaniel went to sleep on his own at a very reasonable time and then slept until 7am! We felt very smug. Our smugness was increased by the fact that it wasn't raining!

We decided to go for a walk along the Manifold Valley trail, a disused railway track that has been tarmaced as a cycle track. This way, we thought, we would not have too horrid a walk when the torrential rain came down and we would still get to see the sights.

The trail was very pretty - lush woodland and a torrenty river. We enjoyed walking through a long tunnel, and Nathaniel enjoyed the accoustics by making lots of "hah!" noises and listening to the echo. We did lots of evil mastermind style chortles.

We had a brief pause to talk to some people standing by the edge of the trail and looking upwards in a Candid Camera fashion. They were watching peregrine falcons and let us have a look at them with their binoculars.

Eventually we arrived at our destination, Thor's Cave, and began the steep climb up the cliff. It was hard work with a Nathaniel on your back! But it was worth the climb. The view from the top was very pleasing, and climbing into the cave was fun (if you didn't have a Nathaniel on your back).

Thor's Cave in the distance

From inside the cave

We were starting to get a little peckish by now (I think James was ravenous!), and in typical style, Nathaniel refused to go to sleep - it was much more fun admiring the scenery. Being the first time parents that we are, and still obsessive about sleep, we walked and walked and walked, hoping that he would fall asleep. When he eventually did we all suffered from a severe case of "Just over that hill...", looking for a good lunch spot. In the end, we sat in picturesque Wetton churchyard and left Nathaniel sleeping in the carrier.

The rain still refused to appear, so we decided that we couldn't shy away from the inevitable... a circular walk(!) and proceeded to plot a route back across the hills. The path went between the two Wetton Hills, and being open acess land, we couldn't resist the temptation to get to the highest spot. It was all open access land so Ian (carrying Nathaniel!) just charged up the side of it. This wasn't exactly the least tiring of routes so needed a sit at the top! It was a good view.

Slowly (and sometimes quickly when it was steep), we descended back into the valley until we stumbled across a deserted farm. One turn later, we found it wasn't deserted at all and we had in fact reappeared into civilization.

We wanted this house... complete with spire!

The cost of our circular walk with hill climbing was that there wasn't time to barbeque and feed the smallest man from it, so back at the campsite Nathaniel ate the remnants of the previous night's chilli for dinner and we fired up the barbeque. He didn't seem to mind at all! We were all just about full up when the promised rain appeared. We couldn't really complain considering the day of rain didn't turn up until 9pm and it gave some of us a good excuse to go and sample a pint of Abbot in the Manifold Inn, across the road from the campsite!

The rain lashed the tents all night but conveniently cleared by morning, leaving only a couple of drizzley moments over breakfast. As James and Beth had to get back to sunny Basingstoke, we decided to have a short romp over The Roaches, a big pile of rocks looking over Leek, interspersed by a spot of lunch at the top.

We had great fun climbing and slithering down rocks. Nathaniel thought it was all great fun and enjoyed the climbing as well as the slithering!

Tee hee!

Man conquers rock!

Here is the standard photo to demonstrate to Nimmy that people do fun things in the UK - there are good rocks so lots of climbers were there:

An outdoor type

James and Beth left to drive home and the rest of us headed back to the campsite for a relaxing afternoon and another night in the now deserted campsite before we drove home on Monday morning.

More photos are here:
Manifold Valley

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