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Not only did we have a week’s holiday in the Lake District this summer but we also went to the Peak District for a week.  I have already told you about the sad start to this break – the death of my mother-in-law on the day of our arrival.  We spent the first full day of our holiday with my brother-in-law but after that there wasn’t anything else to do but wait until we were told by the Coroner that we could arrange the funeral.

We thought we might as well stay in the Peaks and not abandon our holiday.  If Chris (my brother-in-law) needed us we would be close at hand.  We thought we would find comfort in walking in this beautiful part of the country.

After lunch on Saturday 15th August we drove to the village of Wetton in Staffordshire from where we intended to walk along the Manifold Valley.  We drove along a very scenic road en route to Wetton.

IMG_5345The Roaches and Hen Cloud from top road

The Roaches and Hen Cloud (the nearest hill) seen from the road.

IMG_5346View from top road

Another view of The Roaches. The Rocks look like spikes on the spine of a dinosaur.

IMG_5348View from top road

We could just see the Welsh hills on the far horizon beyond the flat Cheshire Plain.

We got to Wetton and found the car park near the centre of the village.  The buildings and houses in the village are mainly made of stone and the church, which was built in the 14th century has an exterior staircase to the belfrey which contains six bells.  The Royal Oak pub, which owns a camping field next to the car park is also the venue for the World Toe Wrestling Championships which began in the 1970’s!


One of the buildings of Wetton.

IMG_5350Squash stile

Another of those squash stiles which let tall and/or thin people through but not livestock or short people with generously proportioned legs etc.

IMG_5351R and river valley ahead

Richard and I crossed this field which sloped steeply down into the deep valley of the River Manifold.

IMG_5352Cow pat

There were many hazards.


A colourful seed-head – probably Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium).  We also saw a number of Betony (Stachys officinalis) flowers but none of my photos were any good.

IMG_5354Down to river valley

The route down to the river valley

At the bottom of the field we crossed a couple of stiles and entered a wood.

IMG_5358Walk through the wood

Path through the wood

IMG_5359Rhododendron leaves

Lots of invasive Rhododendron seedlings

IMG_5360Steps up through wood

Steps up through the woods

IMG_5362Steps up through wood

Yet more steps! Gasp! Puff!

We were going to see Thor’s Cave.

IMG_5365Thor's cave

Thor’s Cave

This is a Karst Cave i.e. it was formed from the dissolution of soluble limestone.  The entrance is just over 18m up on the hillside and the opening is a symmetrical arch, 7.5m wide and 10m high.  I don’t think there is any connection between this cave and the god Thor; the name probably derives from the word ‘tor’ meaning a hill or rocky peak.   I was most disappointed to find that I didn’t have the ability to climb up to the entrance from the path.  I had to wait outside while Richard explored inside.

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You can see minute-me waving at Richard in one of the photos above.  This will give you some idea of the size of the cave.

IMG_5391Thor's cave

This is what the entrance to the cave looks like from the path below.

While Richard enjoyed himself in the cave, I kept myself busy looking for things to photograph outside.

IMG_5377Hare bells (2)

Harebells (Campanula rotundifolia) growing out of a crevice in the stone.

IMG_5380Tiny maidenhair spleenwort

A tiny Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes).

IMG_5382Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s-ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)

IMG_5383Another cave

I saw another cave entrance below us.

After Richard emerged from the cave we walked back down to the valley-floor.

IMG_5387Vegetation in the valley

Lots of different plants grew in the scree and rocks of the river-bed alongside the path. There were many wild raspberry canes with ripe fruit but again my camera failed to focus on them.

IMG_5392Meadow Crane's-bill

Meadow Crane’s-bill (Geranium pratense) next to the path.

IMG_5393Meadow Crane's-bill

I’m including another photo of these flowers because I like them! You can see that the seed-heads look a little bit like crane’s heads.

IMG_5394Wild Rhubarb or Butterbur

The large leaves of Butterbur (Petasites hybridus). Also known as Wild Rhubarb, the heart-shaped leaves can be up to 1m/3 ft across.


This Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) was so strongly and beautifully  scented!

IMG_5396Common Knapweed

Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)

IMG_5399Former railway line

The path we were walking along was the former Leek and Manifold Light Railway line.  There had even been a station at Thor’s Cave!

This also explains all the well-made steps up to the cave.

IMG_5400View of hill from path

View of a hill from the path.

IMG_5401Meadow Vetchling

Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis)

IMG_5402Red Campion and Bramble

Red Campion (Silene dioica) and Bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.)


More Meadowsweet.

IMG_5404Hazel nuts

Ripening Hazel nuts (Corylus avellana)

IMG_5405Indian Balsam

The pretty flowers of the terribly invasive Indian Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

IMG_5406The path

Another view of the path.

IMG_5407Rosebay Willowherb

Lots of Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium)

IMG_5408Dry river-bed

This is the dry river bed of the Manifold.

In anything other than very wet weather the river disappears into swallowholes and flows through caves and subterranean passages and reappears at Ilam further downstream.

IMG_5409Lady's Mantle

Lady’s-mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris agg.)

IMG_5410Field Scabious

Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)

IMG_5416Gnarled tree

A wonderfully gnarled and twisted tree.


Cinquefoil.  I think this is probably Creeping Cinquefoil but the leaves in the photo aren’t quite what I expect from Creeping Cinquefoil.

IMG_5419Hill and valley

Hill and valley.  We had left the old rail-track behind us.

IMG_5420Musk Thistle

Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans) with its drooping flower-heads


A black-faced lamb

IMG_5423R on our walk

Richard walking along the track

IMG_5425Creeping thistle

Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense)

It was about this stage in our walk that we missed a landmark and went up a hill on the wrong side of a wall.


A stream

IMG_5428Tufted Forget-me-not

Tufted Forget-me-not (Myosotis laxa)

IMG_5429Small Heath

Small Heath butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus)


I took a photo of this house little realising that we should have gone past it and then climbed the hill.


‘You’re on the wrong side of the wall, you fools!’, said the sheep.

IMG_5432Sheep tunnel

I took a photo of this sheep tunnel (note my shadow) little realising we could have used it to get onto the right side of the wall!

IMG_5433Stone wall

The wall. We little realised we could have climbed over it at this point.

IMG_5441R on our walk

It was here that it dawned on us we were heading for the wrong valley.

We re-traced our steps right back to the house I had photographed earlier.

IMG_5443Rock Stonecrop

Rock Stonecrop (Sedum forsterianum). This specimen was probably a garden escapee as the plant is only native in the SW of England.

IMG_5445Possibly Bogbean

I am not sure what this plant is. I think it might be Bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) but I am not sure. My guide says that the emergent leaves of Bogbean have the texture and appearance of broad bean leaves which I would say these do.  However….


Knotgrass (Polygonum aviculare)

And that was the last photo I took you’ll be pleased to know.  Only when we got back to the house and saw that the correct path went up the same, long, steep hill that we had just climbed and then come down again, but on the other side of that wall that we realised exactly what we had done and what we still had to do.  I must admit that our hearts sank and we suddenly felt very tired.  We did it though; and got back to the car before the sun set.  We were tempted to have a meal in the pub but thought how late we would get back to our caravan if we did so.  We were very thankful to find the car and then return to the caravan site.

Thanks for visiting!

Apologies for the length of the post.