Sunday, 9 October 2011

Castleton Caves the Matlock Floats

We got back to partaking in some local activities this weekend and it was quite enjoyable.  We somewhat set the day around attending the Illuminations Parade in Matlock-Bath in the evening.  We were going to spend the afternoon in the area and then stay for the parade.  However, the weather was a bit dodgy so we decided to do some sheltered activities first and stop off at Matlock latter to see how things were going.

So, we were off to Castleton which is about 75 minutes away -- farther up into the Peak district than we had ventured before.  The area is known for the Perevil Castle and many caverns (of which we saw 2).

The first cavern was called Speedwell.  It was more of an old lead mine that happened to find a small cave.  It was different because we rode a small boat down to the cavern just like the miners would have done.  We had our hard hats (see above) and were bunched in this boat with about 20 others.  We realized that I should have been in the middle where the highest clearance was!  I wasn't all that impressed with the cave itself, but it was a unique experience getting there and I think the kids actually preferred this one.

Just a few minutes away from Speedwell is Peak Cavern (in fact, they are connected by the underground cave system).  The entry is shown above.

 and the family shot in the slight mist

Apologies for the poor photo quality on some of these -- I'll still try to tell the story.  Peak Cavern had a bit more history about it.  It is mostly natural except for one short bypass tunnel that allows visitors a little better access.  The cave opening is the largest in Britain.  Until 1915 the cave was home to some of Britain's last troglodytes, who lived in houses built inside the cave mouth, and made a living from rope making, while the depths of the cave were known as a haven for bandits.

Traditionally, it has been known as the Devil's Arse due to the flatulent-sounding noises from inside the cave (only during the spring time flooding evidently).  The name was changed ahead of Queen Victoria's visit so as not to upset her.

The photo above is in the large entrance and shows remains of the rope-making tools, etc.

We saw a quick rope making demonstration that was pretty cool.  Natural, hemp (smelly) rope btw.

Looking back at the entrance.  My pictures inside the cave looking down the devil's staircase to the "River Styx" unfortunately did not turn out.  This was a nice little tour though it would have been better had there not been a few crying babies drowning out the commentary.  It's nice to see the local sites but it also makes you appreciate what's back home (let's just say this wasn't exactly Mammoth Cave).

Next up was Peveril Castle (or what's left of it).  It's perched way atop the hill above Castleton.  Way atop.  I think I have the same shot of Kuk and Alex struggling up Haleakala in Maui.

Not even all the way up to the top for this shot.  You can get a feel for the quintessential or at least stereotypical English weather (cool, damp, misty).

The castle was built between 1066 and 1086 and was used primarily as a base of government for the Forest of the Peak (i.e. tax & control of hunting/mining).  William Perevil was keeper of the royal forest.  His son, however, owed King Henry II and forfeited the castle to him.  The keep, shown above, was added in 1174.  The castle fell into disrepair in the 16th century.

Quite sloped even inside the castle grounds.

Not much left of the walls.  Castleton lay below.  The blue dots are  Kuk and Alex.  Foggy day.
Looking out of the keep

Drop off to a valley on the side away from town.

The path in said valley.  I got a chuckle out of some of the stonework comments that had been left behind.

model re-creation

Next up was Matlock-Bath which was on our way home from Castleton.  The weather looked like it was going to hold so we decided to stay and checkout the Illuminations parade later than night.

From wikipedia on Matlock-Bath:  In 1698 warm springs were discovered and a Bath House was built. As the waters became more famous, access was improved by the building of the bridge into Old Matlock and in 1783, the opening of a new entrance at the south of the valley. Princess Victoria's royal visit in 1831 confirmed Matlock as a society venue of the time.

M-B is somewhat of a beach town without a beach.  Lot's of chippies (fish-n-chip shops), curious stores, arcades, etc.  The storefront above caught our eye with it's unique name.

another storefront item -- this one at a gift/costume shop

Indiana, particularly the State Fair, has a reputation for all things fried.  The chippies here can certainly hold their own.  On the left next to the mini-Cod is a fried sausage.  <Pass>  No deep-fried Twinkies or Snickers though.  Chippies are quintessential British and some are better than others.  I'm starting to realize that it's simply not for me though.

Huddled along the river Derwent awaiting the Illuminations parade. When Princess Victoria visited she commented above the sparking lights along the river.  To celebrate her Diamond Jubilee (60 yrs on the throne, 1897), candle-lit floats/boats were sent down the river.  114 years later, they are still doing it (though using electrical means).

Participants decorate the rowboat size boats with various themes.  You can see some official photos here.

1st prize winner -- Bob the Builder

2nd prize -- Toad Travels

our favorite was the Back to the Future Delorean

On Friday (the day before), Nicole's school put on a play of Peter Pan.  Unfortunately, I was the only one other than Nicole to attend since Alex was not feeling well that night (no, he wasn't faking it).  It was fairly entertaining.

Nicole, true to Frey form, was an avid participant . . . behind the scenes.  Here she is in her black, back-stage outfit.  I had to snap a quick photo before she died of embarrassment -- hence it's a little fuzzy.

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