This was a walk in an area I don't know at all. I'd always thought it too far away for a day walk, but with the help of TomTom I got to the meeting place of Whitwell in just over an hour. This was a walk with my small walking group and for once I actually managed to meet up with them and not be late or go to the wrong car park or do any of the other things I seem to have been good at doing recently.
We found a free car park and there were toilets in the commuity centre across the road. Whitwell itself is a village with a look of a small town. There are quite a few modern houses, pubs, a pizza takeaway place, a hairdresser's and it has a general look of being fairly low income. Different to many of villages I start walks in where it seems as though you have to be a millionaire to afford a week's rental in a two up two down.
|entrance to Creswell Crags|
We began by walking through the town to reach fields and the edge of a limestone quarry to the south of Whitwell. The quarry is fenced off for safety reasons but there was a good path all round the edge. We could see the village of Creswell off to our right as we walked. At the bottom edge of the quarry we left the path and came briefly onto the A616. Then we turned left into the entrance to Creswell Crags. A path that veered off from the road took us to the crags themselves. This rocky gorge has many caves in which have been found bones and skulls of animals not seen in Britain for many thousands of years, and tools used by the first people to inhabit the area. The caves are gated so we couldn't go in them, though there are tours at certain times.
We walked down both sides of the gorge and then stopped for lunch in a picnic area before walking to the swish new visitor centre for a toilet stop and a quick look round. There's a bit of a museum in the centre which I didn't get chance to see. I'd also like to spend more time looking round the gorge and doing the cave tour. So I'll have to come back. Especially as I now know this area isn't nearly as far away as I'd thought.
Leaving the visitor centre we walked through a dolomite quarry. The earth was silky black and alien looking with just the one fenced in path going through and lots of warning signs about the dangers of straying into the quarry itself. A few shimmering pools added to the overall effect. I was fascinated by the environment and stopped several times to take photos.
As we reached civilisation again we came across a house with a sign advertising a tea garden. One snap decision later and we all trooped in, much to the surprise of the owner who'd already given up for the day and packed most of the tables and chairs away. The house, called 'Penny Green', had a big garden with a swing seat and a little summer house. Running across the bottom was a small stream on the other side of which was a footpath. The lady told us that the footpath was currently being upgraded and when it was finished there would also be a little bridge across the stream so walkers could come directly into her garden from there, thus drumming up more business. We enjoyed sitting in the garden with our drinks, amazed that we could do so in late November. And I was only wearing a fleece and no jacket.
Continuing our walk we followed a small lane to the road near Hoodthorpe and then walked back along paths and through fields (including one with signs warning us to beware of playful horses) to reach Whitwell from the northeast.