‘Will there be lightning mum? And what about his hammer, can I pick it up?’ Eager questions from a very excited 5 year old who has just learned that our trip today is to Thor’s Cave. ‘I don’t think so son, but there might be bear bones’. He shrugs his shoulders and walks off, leaving me to think he accepted the trade off.
Waterproofs on and enough luggage for a trip to Spain is loaded into the car for an hour or so drive up to the Peak District. I was very much looking forward to this one. A cave carved into the side of a mountain! Not something you see every day. The children garbled away in the back seats and I eagerly awaited the view I wanted. The valleys and greenery appearing in the distance, the freedom my soul needs every once in a while.
We arrived at Manifold valley and dumped Big ol’ Blue when the satnav told us to stop. The kids have had a new addition to their walking paraphernalia; poles! Yes, a fantastic idea we thought, let’s get them sharp sticks they can assault themselves and each other with (insert rolling eyes here). Off they started, tap tapping their way along. We strapped up our boots and made our way to the side of the Manifold river, which was flowing in full speed today. It can dry up so I’ve heard so we were lucky to be able to walk along it in all it’s gushing glory. And then….
The cave came into view, standing proud on the hillside, the trees underneath careful not to grow too high to impede on the spectacle witnessed from beneath. We located the correct path to start the climb up; to the right if anybody wants to know, and edged forward on our muddy pilgrimage. The climb up is nice, a woodland setting and winding path round and up the side of the hill to come out to the edge of the cave. To get in to the cave from the front is a scramble on hands and knees. Because it was raining the terrain was very muddy and wet, the limestone very hazardous. Dad went first and I hoisted the kids up one by one as we made our way into the mouth of the cavern.
About the cave
What a sight to behold. Such a plethora of colours and textures and noises ran all throughout. Dripping water and echoing of noisy children gaping in awe at the cave around them. You can just imagine the animals that lived in here, or the men who would hide in one of the tunnels that appear out of nowhere. Apparently this is one of the oldest sites of human activity in the peaks. Nearly 10000 years ago humans dwelled here and would have cooked and eaten animals inside this cave. Stone tools and a range of now extinct animals have been found here. How exciting. And the views across the manifold valley, fantastic. If it weren’t for the mud and the fact one of the children may have just slid right off the side of the hill, we would have stayed in the cave for lunch.
But they’re far too fidgety for that. So instead we headed round the side of the hill where access to the top of the cave can be found, befriended a few friendly sheep and had lunch with them instead. We did try and attempt to get higher onto the top of the cave but the mud made it near on impossible. Finley fell, backwards, head starting down the side of the hill. I grabbed him just in the nick of time before he went hurtling down over and over. So, we used our better judgment and decided to call it a day.
Overall, the walk was short, as we didn’t have time to do the 6 mile round trip around Whetton, but we saw the most important part. Definitely one to be done again, in a warmer climate I hope, when we don’t have to dip the red-headed one into the river to wash off the mud that had claimed her trousers.