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Follow the brown signs

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Caverns, castles and cultery

Yesterday was a busy day, hence no blog writing, and for this I apologise. So let me fill you in now. My new best mate Andy took the day off to show me around the Peak District, which was great because I have been known to go missing for hours on end while walking, even when I have a map and clear instructions to guide me, so I almost certainly would have died in the Peaks if he hadn’t been there. We did lots of walking and I took about a billion photos, again, none of which do this place any justice, I just wish I’d been here a few months ago when the heather was all purple. To be fair though I can’t imagine it getting any more beautiful than this, just different. The scenery was cry-your-eyes-out amazing.

After walking I had to get at least one brown sign in so we headed for the Blue John cavern, which has to be one of my best brown sign experiences so far. We went down the cavern (not actually called a cave, so does this still count as a cave attraction? I think yes) which is still mined for the blue/purple stone used in loads of jewellery, very expensive apparently so that’s why I didn’t recognise it. The guide was a miner called Ben who loved his caves and talked with passion about his job, both guiding in the summer months and mining in the winter months, he was excellent. There was only us and 2 old ladies on the tour and he was really chatty and wanted to know everything about us all. He took a shine to me, and if I’m honest, me to him. I think what makes attractions stick out is when the owners/guides have a real desire to give visitors a proper understanding of their way of life and want to tell others about the thing they have such a passion for. Its simply not about the entrance money they make or how much they can get away with charging for a cup of tea in the tea room, these type of attractions are a unique way of discovering completely different and often unique ways of life. Ben was just one of those genuine blokes who spoke with such enthusiasm and was so interested in his visitors it made for a really great visit.
Sometimes the roof of the cavern was held up like this though, and when you’re 300 feet down you don’t really want to be looking up and seeing that do you really? Ho hum, it was all part of the experience.


This is me and Ben, there is another picture where he is squeezing me so hard it looks a bit odd, thankfully Andy took another one.

Next brown sign was for Peveril Castle, not actually with a castle symbol, but an English Heritage property so I could tick off that symbol with this visit. It was a ruined castle, which actually wasn’t built on premise that royalty would use it, it was more about keeping the locals below in check and taking all their money in taxes I think.
 This is the view from behind the castle. Gorg.
Another partner is brown-signing crime. 
View from Stanage Edge. These millstones were quarried and crafted up here from as far back as the 18th century. Abandoned millstones can be seen along Stanage Edge which were discarded because they were imperfect or broken, and many were left in half finished states when the methods of milling started changing and the industry collapsed in the early 20th century.
If you look closely you’ll see an elusive famous grouse sitting on the rock. I couldn’t get a picture of it flying then hovering over wherever it was deciding to land then plonking hard down into the heather as gravity did its thing on its fat body, which is annoying because it was funny.
Next stop was a cutlery museum in Hathersage. Although this one wasn’t really a museum, more a come-and-have-a-look-at-us-making-cutlery attraction.  So I walked around the factory and watched a few men in overalls making cutlery, then went to the shop and had to be physically restrained (by my debit card) not to buy one of every single item on display. It was the David Mellor factory, very posh I’m told, he was also the chap who designed the traffic light and many other familiar pieces of our urban landscape.
The rain decided to set in but it was that weird all engulfing rain that gets you soaked but isn’t unpleasant to walk in if you have a big waterproof on, also the sun kept shining through it and it was very pretty, so we walked around the Ladybower reservoir.
There was a brown sign for bike hire here which I could have done to get that symbol ticked off the list, but since my hardcore day when I walked down Snowdon and went horse riding my right knee has been giving me gip. With all the walking I did I think it was close to giving up and I was actually in a serious amount of pain. It is now approximately double its normal size, so I think I’ve probably ruined it. Do no more exercise you say? No problem doc.
It was a pretty exhausting day, and I certainly felt it today, I think I need to be rotoring in days off. It’s a funny thing doing this trip. I’m absolutely loving it but its strangely intense and when things like the car breaking down or getting a swollen knee happens, which in themselves are not usually very traumatic, it has started to get to me a bit. That and the fact that I don’t have anywhere that I can come “home” to when I do get a bit pissed off, not having a base, even if it isn’t my own base, feels weird.
One week done now, 10 more days to go on this leg, and now I really don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing between now and the 10th of October, plan Amanda PLAN! Whatever… Exciting times.