Today we set out to explore the Manifold Valley. Our first stop was Wetton Mill which sits below a small cave called Nan Tor Cave. The roof of the cave is now collapsed, but it was occasionally inhabited in prehistoric times.
A little over half a mile south of Wetton Mill is Thors Cave. This stands high on the cliff overlooking Ladyside Wood. It is accessed from the disused railway which is now a cycle path, across the river and up the bank via a stepped pathway.
This cave gives a commanding view of the valley. Evidence of habitation suggests that the cave has been used for about 10,000 years, at different times by prehistoric hunters, hyaenas and cave bears. Deeper into the cave, for those who have appropriate caving equipment and skill, are large chambers with fine stalactites and stalagmites (tights come down and mites grow up). Nan Tor Cave can be seen in the distance from the entrance, but not in the above view.
The purpose of this visit, for me, was to take some pictures inside the cave. Rosie took this one of me with my camera. It has a steeply inclined rocky floor which is a challenging entrance for anyone to climb up. Once inside the cave, there is a side opening in the rock that allows light to enter the entrance chamber, illuminating the inside for about 100 metres. This would have made a very safe habitable space for prehistoric hunter gatherers.
On the way back from the cave we met Gary Prescott, who is cycling around the UK on a birding mission. He had stopped to look at some Early-Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula) which were growing across a large hillside pasture.
We also spotted cowslips (Primula veris) and lots of ladies smock (Cardamine pratensis). The meadows are full of interesting flowers after the cool and long winter. There appeared to be a peregrine falcon on the crag at Ossoms hill. I took a photograph, but the image is too blurred to see the bird clearly. Oh well, back to Wetton Mill for a coffee and to feed the ducks - woh! - Cinclus cinclus - The white throated dipper - flying under the bridge at the mill. What a treat.
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