Birchover Village, Druids, and The Nine Ladies
Trip Start Jul 04, 2006
63Trip End Jan 16, 2007
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G'day everyone. Well another week has passed here in the UK with not much happening but will bore you with the details anyway. The weather has started to turn colder with summer well and truly over for 2006. It's a bit like being back in Melbourne; windy and cold. We did a walk on Saturday which is the first one we have done in a while so it wasn't a very long or taxing walk, but we enjoyed nether the less. My ankle still isn't right so as soon as we get on uneven ground it is hard for me to keep up with Brian, but I manage most of the time. We went to a place called Birchover where there are some old caves behind a pub that Brian wanted to have a look at. We found the details on the net but to get there we had to catch a bus to a remote bus stop between the towns of Rowsley and Bakewell and wait for an irregular bus service that would take us through the highlands to Birchover. The bus timetables indicated a 13 minute wait between drop off and pickup, but with the Belper bus running 10+ mins late, and the Birchover bus running early we found ourselves stranded on the side of the road with no choice but to catch the next bus going in that general direction and get off at the closest point and walk the 3-4 miles into Birchover
We eventually walked into Birchover and found the Druid Inn, so named after the druids who practiced their magic amidst Rowter Rocks, which is immediately above the pub and contains several finely balanced rocking stones which can be moved by the application of a shoulder. One of these could once be moved easily by hand, but was shifted from its position as a prank by fourteen young men on Whit Sunday 1799 and although it was replaced it is not now so finely balanced. The steps and seats which are carved out of the rock here were the work of the Reverend Thomas Eyre, the builder of the village church. Rather than talk too much about this, and as a picture is worth a thousand words, we will leave it to the photos and some text borrowed from the local tourist site to give more details.
We then were off to Cratcliffe Tor and Robin Hoods Stride. Cratcliffe Tor has a shallow cave where 600 years ago a hermit carved a crucifix, a niche for a candle and a seat. Robin Hoods Stride is so called because it is the same distance between the 2 upstanding pinnacles as the length of Robin Hoods Stride, some 22 yards (sounds like a cricket pitch to me!). Don't quite understand this, but heck we are only tourists! Brian climbs to the top to have a look at some amazing rock formations; however I don't trust my ankle so wait for him at the bottom
I am reading a book at the moment, "Dancing with the Virgins" by Stephen Booth which is a murder mystery that is set in the area we are visiting today, and in the book there is a place called the Nine Virgins where a body is dumped so we are looking for the actual place it was set in. We found a place on the net called the Nine Ladies, also known as the Stone Circle which we believe is where the book is based upon. We spoke to many other locals and walkers during the day, and they all referred us to a site back on a rise above Birchover, so we eventual catch a passing bus and talk the driver into dropping us off there. This is ok, but there is only one more bus for the day coming back the other way in about an hour, so the driver warns us that although he will contact and word that bus driver up, we must be back on the side of the road within the hour and make sure we flag the bus down. As we get onto the track, other walkers warn it is a 20-25min walk to the site and the same back, so we have to get cracking.
I didn't think it was the right place at first, but after doing a bit of research on the net I believe it is in fact where the book was set
We get back to the road and catch that last bus and are off to Matlock to see the Illuminations Light Festival at night, which is made up of many beautiful light features such as hopping frogs and flying birds and many other displays strung up across the Derwent River. We called Alan to see if he and Jordy would like to join us for the evening as they were having a fireworks show on at 9.00pm but they didn't feel up to it. Brian and I enjoyed fish and chips on the river looking at all the pretty lights, and then walked up a big hill to a pub where we were told we would have an uninterrupted view of the fireworks. They were great and we enjoyed them immensely. Brian is a bit obsessed with fireworks and whenever the opportunity arises for us to see them he will always take it. Great day and a late night home for us.
On Sunday we are off to Derby to watch the NRL Grand Final as we missed the AFL Grand Final yesterday as we couldn't drag ourselves out of bed at 5am to be on the bus at 6am to be in Derby for the opening bounce at 6.30, but at least with the NRL it didn't start until 10am which is a lot more reasonable hour
After the final whistle we went to have a roast for lunch in one of the many Derby pubs. It was roast lamb which is our favorite, and while they didn't give a big serve of lamb the veggies and roast potatoes were help yourself so we all filled our plates. The meal was very nice. Not as nice as home cooked but close. Not much was happening after that so we all head off to go our separate ways. Alan and Jordy are tired so are going home for a snooze, and after the bus back to Belper Brian is off to the local to watch the soccer and I am off home to do nothing.
During the afternoon we got a call from the Peril's, and for those of you that don't know Brian was best friends with a guy named Anthony Peril at high school. His parents decided to return to England about 30 years ago, but Brian was like a second son to Anthony's parents and for a number of years we stayed in contact with them. However as so often happens in our busy society we lost contact with them about 15 years ago and for the last few weeks I have been trying desperately to find out where they were. Today they finally made contact. Even though I have never met Dolly and Peter Peril I have written to them over the years and of course Brian has talked about them a lot so I feel as if I have known them forever. When the phone rang and I realized who it was I was so excited. Brian was still at the pub watching the footy so I thought he would miss the call, but after about 5 mins I could see him coming up the path. I told Dolly and she was very excited to talk to him. We are hopefully going to see them next weekend, and how fantastic that after all these years we will finally get to meet. For Brian it will be an amazing reunion. Just a fabulous end to a fabulous weekend, and I guess a fair bit did happen this week after all!!