Ludds Church Walk

On occasion my friend and I manage to co-ordinate our busy lives for long enough to get out into the Peak District countryside.

A few weeks ago we had planned to go over to The Roaches, The day arrived and of course, typically, it was pouring with rain. We decided to brave the elements and head out anyway, and I was so pleased that we did.

Hen Cloud and the Roaches

Wirksworth to the Roaches

Drive from Wirksworth to the Roaches  (Click Link for Map)

We drove from Wirksworth, turned onto Via Gellia, and up to Newhaven, turning there and driving down to the Monyash/Crowdetcote turning.   From there, we went through to Longnor and then right across the moorland to Emerge on the A53 near The Winking Man Pub.

From Longnor to the Roaches

From Longnor to the Roaches (Click Link for Map)

We turned left towards Leek, driving past the Ramshaw Rocks and the famous “Winking Man Rock”, (so called because the rock, which looks like a giant face that appears to wink at you when you drive past it.  After half a mile or so we turned right at the sign for Upper Hulme.

Turn off towards Upper hulme

For Upper Hulme  – turn right

Follow the road past the pub, down the hill and take a sharp right. In the dip there are a few houses a small waterfall and some industrial units.  Go past these and you’ll drive under the imposing outcrop of Hen Cloud.

Hen Cloud

Hen Cloud – It doesn’t really look like a Hen.

The Roaches

Path to the Roaches

A bit further on you’ll find some parking spaces and you can begin your walk.
We strolled though the mist, chatting away.

Staffordshire / Cheshire Borders

Staffordshire / Cheshire Borders

It’s good to just get out amongst the nature and walk. We could have driven a couple of miles up the road but would have missed, Buzzards, Kestrels, Horses, a young but sadly dead badger, a squashed Frog and a handsome Toad.

Juvenile Badger

Juvenile Badger – Not a mark on it.

As we walked on, we neared the woods leading down to Ludds Church.

Ludds Church - woods

Woods containing Ludds Church

The photo looks almost flat but the descent into the woods was hard on my knees. We walked down and down and the rain eased up. This walk was fun, but there was a lot of mud, we had to carefully pick our way though a very muddy waterlogged wood, all the paths were thick with deep mud, so a little creative weaving through the Silver Birch trees was needed. Normally though, “stay on the path, kids”.

Misty, muddy Woods

Misty, muddy Woods

Eventually we arrived at our destination. For those who don’t know what Ludds Church is, It’s a bloomin big chasm in the ground, you could easily miss it if you didn’t know it was there. Once you enter it, it’s a totally breathtaking micro-climate, like a little rocky gorge in a rainforest.

Ludds Church  – Click for slideshow

Ludds Church is a real hidden gem and somewhere that I’d recommend anyoneto visit. I’m annoyed at myself for not having been before.

The Green Man

A little blurry but do you see the Green Man?

IMG_7636 IMG_7639 IMG_7645 IMG_7651 On the way back to the car our nature trail continued. There were contorted trees, with wonderful branch formations. My guess is that they must have been mauled by extreme weather and then healed, leaving truly creepily formed branches.IMG_7660Then there were ancient Beech trees with exposed roots, again looking as though they had seen a changing environment and adapted to it.IMG_7950



Staffordshire Moorlands

Daws looking out over the Staffordshire countryside

On the way, back we were lucky enough to find this handsome looking toad, who was kind enough to pose for photos.



We were treated to arial displays from a Buzzard and a Kestrel.

Buzzard with vole

Buzzard with vole

Hovering Kestrel

Hovering Kestrel

Meanwhile, the sheep looked on.

Mooland Sheep

Moorland Sheep

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Visit Thor’s Cave

I often like to get out at the weekend. I have to drive about a forty mile round trip to work each day, so inspiration is pretty easy to come by. Before the nights drew in, I often went “pootling” off the main roads to see what village or hamlet lay just off the beaten track.

I recently remembered that Thor’s cave wasn’t that far from my daily route to work of Matlock to Buxton. Taking the A515 route you get to see part of the Peak District not that many of us Tideswellians see often. Taking “The Ashbourne Road” as it’s known, allows you to dip in and out of the country as the road runs close to the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border.

Thor's Cave

Thor’s Cave

Remembering the routes to Thors Cave

About 12 years ago I went with my friend Dylan to Thor’s cave, we drove from Stoke to Ashbourne, then down into Dovedale, Ilam, then up to Wetton and Hartington. We walked down Beresford Dale in the Manifold Valley. The cave itself itself was up a very steep path that, on a hot summers day can be quite an ordeal for the very young, rather old or the pretty unfit.

I needed a different route. This time I had my daughter and my Good buddy Daws along with me. My daughter is eight, and the weather was showery and damp. I was unsure of what she could and couldn’t do, so I’m introducing her to walks gently.

We drove from Wirksworth down to Ashbourne, driving past Carsington Water and then at Ashbourne turning back onto the A515.  Drive through Fenney Bentley, and keep heading towards Buxton.  When you see the sign for Alstonfield and Mill Dale, turn right on to Green Lane.

Turn to Alstonefield

Turn to Alstonefield

Follow the lane down and you drive over the bridge at Milldale. Here you can turn left and drive alongside the River Dove, or you can go up the Hill into Alstonefield (slightly longer).

The Pinch, Milldale

The Pinch, Milldal

If you do go into Alstonefield, just follow the signs for Wetton. Either way you will arrive near a pub called the Watts Russel Arms.  Keep following the signs for Wetton.

Russell Watts Arm

Watts Russell Arms

If you follow the signs you can’t go wrong, The road on the right (above) is called Wall Ditch, follow it, take the 2nd right onto Ashbourne Lane, This brings you into Wetton, turn right onto Carr Lane and you’ll find the small car park.

Where to Park in Wetton

Where to Park in Wetton

From there, it’s just a short walk round the corner and down a lane, which leads you to styles.

Thors Cave

Thors Cave

As you go over the styles, you walk down into a dip, then slightly up the bank, don’t go all the way up unless you want to go above the cave. You will see a well worn path leading down on the left. Go down the bank to the Cave mouth.

The Cave itself looks so impressive from the road and valley below. Once you get inside it though you realise, that this is something pretty special. For facts read the Thors Cave Wiki Page.

A few Photos from our Trip.

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How to get to Thor’s Cave from Tideswell

If you liked my blog post, please leave a comment. Tell me about your trip, where else should I be visiting?

The Dragons Back (Chrome Hill)

The Dragons Back (Chrome Hill)

The Dragons Back Chrome Hill & Parkhouse Hill

A couple of Weekends ago my friend and I went out for a Drive / Walk. To Chrome Hill

Drive / Walks are good. You just get in the car and drive to the area you want to go walking do a few miles and then you have the comfort of the car to ferry you back home. Everyone’s a winner.

This particular shot is a smaller version of a large panorama I shot from the top of Parkhouse Hill, Glutton Bridge. It was quite late in the day when we arrived and so we didn’t get chance to walk up Chrome Hill. I doubt the view could have been much better. See the Full Size image on my Flickr account.

Tideswell to chrome Hill

If you are from Tidza or just staying in the Tideswell are, and fancy a trip to “The Dragons Back”. I have included a route, below.

Rediscovering the Peak District

I wrote in my last post about how I am rediscovering the Peak District since moving back to the area in June 2012.  Living in Matlock Bath, I’m ideally placed to visit many towns and villages that were previously just a little far out of my reach.

Most days,  I drive from Matlock Bath up through Cromford and over the Via Gellia rd to Newhaven.  From there I turn right and head into Buxton.  In the first few weeks of my journey I noticed a number of signposts to villages I’d never visited or even heard of.

As I outlined before, in the post entitled, “A local stranger”, my curiosity got the better of me and of late I have been paying brief visits to these towns and villages, with the purpose of returning for tea, cakes and a few well scouted photographs.

This week I decided to investigate the villages closer to Ashbourne.  Villages I have noticed in recent weeks include Parwich, Alsop-en-le-Dale, Alstonefield, Wetton, Biggin and Hartington.  Now I’ve visited Hartington a few times before but the rest were all new to me.

My latest travels around Peak District Villages

My latest travels around Peak District Villages (click to enlarge)

Staffordhire Peak District & Thors Cave

The great thing about visiting this part of the Peak District is that it straddles the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border.  You can cross several times between the counties as you drive from one small village to the other.  The scenery is a little different from the Northern Peak. Rich Farmland sits alongside Moorland and wooded hills with the River Dove and the River Manifold flowing in the valleys. Another great thing is you can make a mental map of where the pubs are.

This particular trip was inspired from a conversation I had regarding Thors Cave.  Many years ago, when I was at University,some friends and I walked up through the Manifold Valley and up into Thors Cave and beyond.  I had decided to try to find Thors Cave again, not to walk to it but just plot the route.   I wasn’t disappointed. After a lovely drive around the villages I finally came to Wetton.  I asked a local which way to go and, as luck would have it, I was on the very lane that led right past the cave.

Thors Cave

Thors Cave, Wetton

Of course, I was keeping my eyes firmly on the road, but I did manage to pull over for a moment to look at the cave.  It was much bigger than I had remembered and I’m really looking forward to the next fine weather day, so that I can pay it a visit.  With every day that passes by, I’m loving being back home in the Peak District, more and more.

Please leave me a comment if you have visited any of the villages I have mentioned. Maybe you can make me a recommendation?  Tell me about something I must see of a place I need to visit.  I promise to go and take plenty of photos.