We met with friends today for a wander and a picnic. Having heard Lathkill Dale is a beautiful spot, we decided to pack a bag and head over that way.
Even the drive to Lathkill Dale is stunning. Mile after mile of farm land edged with dry stone walls, the brightest yellow fields of rapeseed in the distance, the highs and hidden dips as we got closer and closer.
After parking up, we wandered down the hill towards the river, following the sound of the water. As we passed through the gate the boys call to me, ‘Mum! Come and look at this!’
Laid out on a rock was the skeletal remains of a small animal. Someone had obviously, at one point, put the bones in order but by the time we found it, they were a little muddled.
The path is littered with small caves and old mine openings. It’s all safe; boarded or fenced off when necessary and the boys dug the torches out of the bag to investigate them further.
Returning after a picnic by the beautifully clear water, we crossed the bridge to Bateman’s House, built originally in the 1840’s. Here you can descend a steep ladder and turn a hand operated generator as you look into the mine shaft. Always great fun for kids.
The boys paddled on the way back to the car. Having left the house to be greeted by a grey drizzle, we failed to bring towels, assuming the boys wouldn’t want to get cold and wet. Instead they paddled fully clothed and chose to traipse back up the hill to the car dripping wet and barefoot.
The river, in places, disappears entirely. With such a phenomenal network of mines underground, the water seeps away, enticed by the vastness below.
There are so many things here for kids to explore: the remains of the lead mines – the dips and hollows, crumbling pillars, stone walls leaning; crooked and weathered. Together they blend almost seamlessly into the landscape, adding a rugged beauty to the calm waters of the River Lathkill.
We will definitely be returning here when the weather warms up.