Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Olympic Torch Comes to Town & a muddy hike to Thor's Cave

James Toseland in Darley Abbey -- credit Gareth Fuller

Quite a jammed packed weekend for us this week.  It started on Friday with the Olympic Torch coming to Derby.  The torch is making its way across the UK at it leads up to the London 2012 Olympic towards the end of July.  There are 8000 torchbearers overall though the torch does get assisted (driven) between some of the stops.

Through either great planning/negotiating or luck, the torch was scheduled to come to Derby on a weekend and they set up some special events to welcome it.  It was to arrive from Ashbourne and make it's way to the Marketplace near the Cathedral.  From there, it would come up Duffield Rd and head into Darley Abbey Park.  That's in our backyard!  In fact, we were so well located that 3 other ex-pat families joined us as we made our way to the park.

Fortunate fact #2 -- it didn't rain!  They had a proper Indiana thunderstorm (a rarity)  the day before and it was a little off/on on Friday, but the rain held off.  Here's a view of crowd gathering.  We took a spot close to the route rather than close to the stage.

I'm a few rows deep, but still a good vantage point.  The kids ultimately wormed their way a little closer.

Kuk and the kids had made a food run and just made it back (phew).  Some of the girls are having a chat before hand (Nicole, Kuk, Sarah & Kalle).

They didn't announce the progress of the torch (or at least I couldn't hear it if they did), so we watched the movements of the helicopter to know it was close.

Here is comes (the small orange dot up top).  Cameras at the ready.  [You can play where's Waldo for the quintessential UK scene of kid on dad's shoulders with trousers coming off.  I can't escape it.]

My buddy Jay snagged this nice shot of the torch going by.

Mine was a little blurry.  The torchbearer is James Toseland (wiki) a 2-time world champion superbike (motorcycle) racer with Derbyshire roots.

My first video upload -- hope this works.  Nicole recorded this on her phone.  Cool.  You might recognize the "I saw it, I saw it, I saw it" at the end.  It's Alex.  (Might want to turn down your volume a bit before playing).

The torch made it's way down the hill to the stage.

Posing after lighting the cauldron.

I knocked everyone out of the way and used my 200x zoom lens to snag this one.

Actually, I grabbed it off the internet.  [as above, credit to Gareth Fuller]

This was a random torch bearer that was posing for pictures.  Nicole deftly maneuvered in so I took a quick photo even though the torch bearer wasn't looking. 

Update (thanks to Sarah A):  The torchbearer is Helen Hopkinson, 33, from West Bridgford.  She is an ambassador for Cancer Research UK and was nominated by the charity for her tireless campaigning. She backed the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ drive to get cigarettes off display in supermarkets and for small shops to follow suit by 2015. Two close family members have died from cancer which prompted Helen to help all she could. She is a keen football fan and is very excited about holding the flame.

Torch facts:  as mentioned above, there are 8000 torchbearers covering 8000 miles (but some of it driven; I heard that each one only goes about 300m).  The torch has 8000 circles, is 800 mm high and weighs 800g.  (Kinda went nuts on the 800x theme, eh?).

I did decide to get a little closer to get a picture of the cauldron.  I didn't realize that they were in the process of transferring the "eternal flame" to THE LANTERN.

Steady.  Steady.  Job done.  About a minute later, poof they turned the cauldron off and said to head to the Marketplace for the rest of the party.  Hmm -- that ended fast.  Oh well.  We decided to head back to our place with our friends for pizza and drinks.  Good times.  Glad we went.  It was neat to participate in this event (especially with so little effort!).

Sarah and Dave's little baby girl, Anna, got to partake in history too.  What a cutie.  Kuk enjoyed spending time with her as well.  No worries, we are capped at 2 if you know what I mean.


We need one day just to do regular stuff.  As of late, that's been on Saturdays as there are some things that can't be done on Sundays.  That was the case this weekend as we had dentist and haircut appointments and took care of grocery shopping and laundry.  Yawn.  It's gotta be done though.

Fortunately, we also had our friends the Connells over.  We are glad to have made some British friends; we get to make fun of how we each pronounce things.  :-)

I fired up the grill (barbecue) even though the weather was a little dodgy and it turned out fine.  We are basically in the 60s here as all you guys back home are sweltering away (a little warmth this way would be okay).


The forecast for Sunday was supposed to be decent.  Dry, upper 60s, maybe a little sun.  Perfect for a walk!  Kuk begged off as she has a big work deadline approaching (boo!).  I flipped through my various "Short Walk" books and decided on Jarrolds #13 -- Thor's Cave and Beeston Tor.  The starting point was in Wetton which is kinda near Milldale which is kinda in between Dovedale and Hartington (the sites of other hikes we have done).

I was so proud of myself.  I was not only able to find some free maps as noted last week, but I was able to figure out how load them on the PC software and then plan my routes.  I completed about 6 or so and this was one of them.

Except . . . I forget to transfer it back to the GPS.  Moron.  Oh well, with the book in hand I could still follow along.

The pink line above is the route I programmed and the cyan line is what we took.  As you can see, it's close but different.  I can explain!

A -- starting point at the parking lot (and the all important WC (toilet)).
B -- this was realizing that I programmed the wrong route.  Adjusting on the fly!
C -- intentional diversion -- there was a path to the top of the hill that I had to check out
D -- stepping stones impassable -- had to backtrack
E -- stayed on the road -- you'll see why

Stats (I have a few fans now!):  4.4 miles in 2:37 of which 0:43 was not moving (similar ratio as before even without Kuk -- :-).  I'm holding the GPS so it's when I'm not moving.  This can be taking photos, resting, getting food, waiting for Alex, etc.

Okay, enough of that.  On to the photos.

Based on the weather forecast we were debating whether to take jackets (glad we did) and we even put on sunscreen on our faces.  Kiss of death.  It was chilly and then misty and then flat out wet.

The blue skies had disappeared by the time we started.  This is the Manifold Valley and the spire of Grindon church on the left.   Required stone wall, hills/valleys and of course sheep as well.

Shorn sheep.  Here's to you, Jay.

And another.  3 out of 4 sheep recommend looking at the shifty walkers as they pass by.

We made a semi-challenging and quite muddy scramble to the top of the hill above Thor's cave (point C above) and were rewarded with this view.  The dropoff was severe and I wasn't too interested in taking many photos up here, to be honest.

One more, though poorly focused.  Death was 3 feet away, it was windy and slightly raining so I'd like a pass on the photo quality.

Reaching my arm out to take a picture of the valley far, far below.

Resting at the top.  I later realized that Alex wasn't too happy with the precarious position.  You can certainly see it on his face though.

We turned around to join back up with the intended trail.  This is looking back at the muddy (and sheep filled) path we took.

Nicole was very careful on the way down as it was slippery.  The rocks and mud especially so, so we tried the grassier paths when possible.

Thor's cave awaited.  Very cool.

I washed out the kids so you could see a little more of the cave detail.

Despite the mud, we had to climb up to the cave.  Very interesting.   We could hear some bats but never saw them.

Looking back out the entrance.

After the cave, we walked farther down the hill (fortunately with steps) and then crossed a bridge over a small river.  Here are four cute little ducklings with their mother.

A view from the river level back up the Thor's cave.

Some info about the cave.  I usually just snap these for my own info so I didn't frame it up well, but I thought I would include this anyway.  Not sure about the bear -- that must have been some time ago.  More info here.

That, I believe, is the peak we climbed (point C).  Yikes.

 On firmer ground now, though we did have to dodge a couple of horses.  (upping my animal count)

Folks will camp anywhere here.  Check out some of these derelict caravans.  I wonder if someone actually owns that or it's open season.  Not that I'm interested . . . 

Our way across the river to Beeston Tor was via these stepping stones.  According to my guidebook:

The riverbed is usually dry here though there are stepping stones.

Right.  I was suspicious given the fact that after our drought in March, we've had the wettest April-June on record.  But, I had to try.  It's 8-10 feet between those last 2 stones.  Pass.

Partial shot of Beeston Tor.  That will have to do.

So, we backtracked to the previous bridge.  Alex was (more than) ready for a rest and a snack.  So much so that he didn't mind sitting in the light rain.

The trifecta (sheep, horses, cows) plus the ducks.  I'm rolling now.  Actually, I'm wet.  The rain picked up here.

. . . and here.  This was my last photo of the walk as I was worried about the camera getting wet.

We made a direct line back to the car park on a surface road.  The last detour (E) was skipping the muddy footpath for the road.

Fear not SLUG fans (aka Andrea), I've not forgotten you:

snail with shiny shell

 our friend the ubiquitous black slug (he really gets around)

 ah, a new yellow slug (or a snail on welfare -- not sure).  Perhaps it is a Limax flavus?
Another new one!  Quite the exotic creature this is.  

Oh wait, that's Nicole's dropped Haribo gummy.  :-)

Well, despite the poor turn of the weather, we had a good time.  Always good to get out.  You can't have sunshine everyday . . . . especially in the UK.

Time to make dinner and then watch the Euro 2012 football (soccer) final.  I hope it's not nil-nil (0-0).

Have a good week everyone.


  1. Nice torch write up, I just slapped a couple of pictures up and called it good.

    Thor's Cave looks cool on the inside, kind of scary getting to the top of it. Like the startegy of having the kids descend first so you have something soft to land on when you fall. I suppose you ascend hills first for the same reason? ;)

  2. something like that . . . you joke but I worry about taking them out on the way down. Nicole wanted a head start because she knew she would take it slowly.

  3. Back in the 70s my in laws owned the pub at Wetton and were patially responsible for the invention of Wetton Toe Wrestling..... It's true, The Manifold does dry up above ground....