Thors Cave | Peak District Towns and Villages | Staffordshire | Derbyshire | England | UK
Peak District Towns and Villages: Thors Cave
Villages around Thor's Cave
|Alsop-en-le-Dale is a small farming hamlet, which nestles in a side valley below the main Ashbourne to Buxton road not too far from Parwich. The main road once passed through Alsop but was diverted to save stagecoaches the climb down into the valley and then back up again. As a result Alsop now enjoys quiet seclusion and only sees traffic en-route to or from Parwich. |
Above the village, the former railway station has been converted into a car park for the Tissington Trail, which passes through here. It's also a convenient place to start a walk into Wolfscote Dale, which comes close to the trail here.
Alsop-en-le-Dale Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Alstonefield is the major village of the region which lies between the lower Dove and Manifold valleys. It is a pretty village which has not been spoilt by the large number of tourists it receives each weekend.|
The village was once a busy junction of packhorse routes and was granted a market charter in 1308. It is not known how long markets continued, but livestock markets were held up until Victorian times. Alstonefield's situation between the steep-sided Dove and Manifold valleys have meant that the major modern transport routes have passed it by, leaving it as a backwater apart from tourism.
The church is mostly 16th century, built in 1590, though there are some Norman bits and there was a Saxon church on the site as a pastoral visit of the Archbishop of York is recorded from 892 AD. Like many other local churches it was heavily restored in Victorian times.
An interesting internal feature is the unusual box pew (painted a rather garish colour) of the Cotton family, owners of nearby Beresford Hall, whose famous scion Charles Cotton featured in 'The Compleat Angler', written by his friend Izaak Walton. This box pew contrasts sharply with much simpler seats available for the rest of the congregation.
From the church it is a fine walk to Milldale and the Dove. In the direction of the village green there lies the Manor House, dated 1587, which used to be the rectory, and a fine old tithe barn.
Around the green there was once a workhouse (built in 1790 and now private dwellings), a reading room, a village pump (which can still be seen), and a tea shop cum post office which has recently closed.
Hopedale and Stanshope are two hamlets situated just to the south of Alstonefield. Hopedale lies in a valley leading down to Milldale and has a very nice pub, the Watts Russell Arms, and once had a cheese factory. Stanshope is a farming hamlet centred around Stanshope Hall Farm, a fine 18th century building.
Alstonefield Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
The village is primarily a farming community and is clustered around the pub, the Black Lion Inn, built in 1782. The part from here down to the ford across Hoo Brook is very picturesque.
Butterton Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Elkstone comprises two farming hamlets, Upper and Lower Elkstone, which nestle into the hillside above Warslow Brook, sheltered to the west by the moorland ridge of Morridge, on which the Mermaid Inn stands. |
The settlements are centred on the church in Upper Elkstone. This was built in 1788 and has been hardly altered since, so it is a perfect example of a Georgian country church. It is a gem.
There are some pretty cottages with lovely gardens and little else in Elkstone. Making it a beautifully quiet and hidden corder of the Peaks. Access from here to the Morridge uplands is very straightforward and on the ridge some two miles above the village there is the Mermaid Inn. This old coaching inn has magnificent views across to the Roaches and Ramshaw Rocks which are well worth the trip to see.
Elkstone Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Grindon is a delightful village strategically situated above the most interesting and exciting section of the Manifold valley, close to its junction with the Hamps. The village has a long history and was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Grendon, meaning green hill. It was a staging post along the packhorse route from Ecton Hill, once the most productive copper mine in the country, and in its heyday many of the local people would have been miners or worked in associated trades.|
Inside the church there is a memorial to the crew of a Halifax bomber which crashed on the moors near Grindon in the harsh winter of 1947. The bomber was dropping relief supplies to the villages of the area, which were completely cut off by snowdrifts.
There is a car park and picnic spot beside the church and not far distant is The Cavalier, the village pub - one of the quainter ones in the area. There are fine walks from Grindon down into both the River Manifold and the River Hamps, to Thors Cave and the Wetton and Alstonefield.
Grindon Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Hartington is the major village on the central section of the valley of the Dove and is therefore an important tourist centre, which means it can get busy at summer weekends. An old village which was granted a market charter in 1203, it has a long history and and some very nice buildings arranged around a large marketplace/common/green at its centre.|
There is still a cheese shop outside selling a range of local cheeses but of course none now from Hartington.
Hartington has several pubs and shops and there is a public car park along the Warslow Road with public toilets opposite, next to Rooke's Pottery.
Hartington Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
Hulme End & Ecton
|Hulme End is a small hamlet situated where the Hartington to Warslow road crosses the River Manifold. It was once the terminus of the Leek and Manifold Light Railway and the old station building at the western end of the hamlet has been beautifully restored and is now a visitor centre, with public toilets and a car park. The cycle track down the path of the former railway starts from here.|
By the bridge over the Manifold there is a pub, once called the Light Railway, but now named the Manifold Inn. There are also two campsites here.
Ecton lies a couple of kilometres downstream, overshadowed by the conical shape of Ecton Hill. Spoil heaps on the hillside betray the former importance of this tiny hamlet for Ecton Hill contained a massive vertical pipe-vein rich in copper ore and in their heyday in the late 18th century the mines were the richest in the country. Even what little now remains can still make a walk around Ecton an interesting excursion, and the view from the top of the hill is excellent.
Hulme End & Ecton Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Ilam lies at the lower end of the River Manifold and is one of the prettiest villages in this area of the Peak, with one of the longest histories. The current village was moved in the 1820s by Jesse Watts-Russell from its position near Ilam Hall and rebuilt in its current location in what Watts-Russell considered to be 'Alpine style'. This explains both the unusual style of the buildings and the surprising distance between them and the village church. The centre of the village is dominated by a memorial cross similar to Charing Cross, erected by Jesse Watts-Russell in 1840 to commemorate his wife, Mary.|
The village was inhabited in Saxon times and the church incorporates some Saxon stonework as well as the tomb of the Saxon saint, Bertram, who lived as a hermit in this area. In 1004 the village was given to Burton on Trent Abbey and a small monastic settlement was established here - after the dissolution of the monasteries this was purchased by the Port family who owned the estate for the next 300 years and established the first Ilam Hall, which was torn down and rebuilt in grand style by Jesse Watts-Russell in the 1820s. The main part of his hall was demolished in the 1930s, but the remaining section is a Youth Hostel and the whole estate now belongs to the National Trust.
At the hall there are tea rooms and a National Trust Information centre, plus a very well-appointed National Trust caravan site.
Like Castern on the hillside opposite, Throwley was once a small agricultural village but rural depopulation has left just the hall, which is actually a large farm specialising in raising beef cattle.
Ilam Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
The hamlet derives its name from an old corn mill situated here but demolished in the mid 19th century. The foundations can still be seen and so can the pool where local farmers washed their sheep in the river prior to shearing - this practice was only abandoned here in the 1960s.
Milldale is famous for the role it plays in 'The Compleat Angler', the book published by Isaak Walton in 1653 which detailed his conversations with his friend Charles Cotton about fishing on the River Dove. The book is written as a conversation between 'Viator' and 'Pescator', and the packhorse bridge leading out of Milldale across the river is known as Viator's bridge.
There is a very informative National Trust Information Barn by the bridge, and public toilets nearby. As you would expect in a popular tourist spot. Drinks, ice-creams, postcards and tea are usually available hereabouts.
Milldale Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Onecote is a small village which serves as a centre for a farming community scattered around and above the upper valley of the River Hamps in the south west of the Peak District. |
The houses are attractively built in the local sandstone, with the Georgian style church at the centre and a pub, the Jervis Arms on the main road. The walk up the upper Hamps to the Mermaid Inn is a fine outing and takes you past Mixon, the site of a disused copper mine which was exploited about the same period as the Ecton Hill mines. There is also good access onto the uplands of Morridge, which offer superb views across the to the south west of the Peaks, particularly The Roaches, Ramshsawe Rocks and Tittesworth and sunsets from up here can be spectacular.
Onecote Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Sheen is a small village strung out along a gritstone ridge between the Dove and Manifold valleys. It is a quiet place, far removed from the bustle of nearby Hartington. Most of the village exists on farming, but there is also a small engineering works here.|
The village is built of local stone and has a church of unusual design, and a pub called the Staffordshire Knot. To the north of the village Sheen Hill is a fine viewpoint from which to survey the upper Dove and Manifold valleys.
For many years Sheen has had the peculiar distinction of producing both mens and womens world class tug-of-war teams.
Sheen Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Warslow featured in the Domesday book and was probably relatively more important then than it is now, having been been eclipsed as a local centre by Hartington.|
Situated on the edge of the Revidge Moors along the road south from Longnor, it has a fine view of the Manifold valley (Thor's Cave can be seen from the top of the village). There are some pretty cottages made of the local sandstone, and a pub called the Waterloo.
The church is a mixture of Georgian and Victorian and contains relics of the local notables - a box pew belonging to the Harpur-Crewe family who had estates here (and around Longnor) and who used Warslow Hall for grouse shooting sessions; and a window which commemorates Sir Thomas Wardle, a silk mill owner from Leek who built Swainsley Hall, which is below the village in the Manifold valley.
Warslow Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Waterhouses is the largest village on the south-western edge of the Pea, and the most substantial settlement in the Hamps valley. The large limestone quarry complex at nearby Cauldon provides much of the local employment but does not impose on the village.|
The village centre is where the Leek to Ashbourne road, the A523, crosses the Hamps and the road to Cauldon turns off south. There are rows of cottages clustered around this junction and a pub, Ye Olde Crown Hotel (open for real ale and home-cooked food), on the corner. Just above here is the old station, once the terminus of the Manifold and Hamps Light Railway. The remaining station buildings have been restored by the Peak Park and converted into an information and cycle hire centre. There is a substantial car park and public toilets here too so it is a good base from which to explore this interesting part of the Peak District.
The village has two pubs (though recently one was boarded up), a school, a couple of shops and a fish and chip shop.
The small farming hamlet of Waterfall lies a kilometre and a half away to the north. This is a pretty little village with a quaint inn, the Red Lion, and a fine late Georgian church. It gains its name from the fact that the Hamps disappears underground not far away.
Calton is a another nearby small farming hamlet situated between the lower Hamps and Manifold rivers. Calton has an excellent network of paths and lanes around it and provides good walking access to the Manifold and Hamps valleys. Musden Wood in particular is well worth a visit.
Waterhouses Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
|Wetton is a delightful little village situated above the Manifold valley near Thor's cave. It is a good centre for exploring this area of the Limestone uplands. In the centre of the village the church and the local pub, the Royal Oak, lie side-by-side. The church dates at least in part from the 14th century and is notable for having 6 bells, which seems rather a lot for a small village church. The pub is an excellent one, with a small field at the rear that is used as a camp site.|
With its position close to Thor's Cave and the other attractions of the Manifold Valley, Wetton is a popular tourist location and a good place to start a walk or a cycle ride. There is a car park and public toilets just along the road towards Grindon.
Wetton Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
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