These Boots Are Made For Walkin'(Nancy Sinatra) - Avoiding the M1,The Raptor Centre,Cambridgeshire to The Peak District,Derbyshire - 3rd August 2016

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August 3rd 2016
Published: August 8th 2016
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We didn’t have a big distance to cover today so we could afford a leisurely breakfast and then as we haven’t had time to visit the birds in the Raptor Centre we have been staying at we are going to take advantage of free entry because we have stayed at the accommodation.

With the car packed and the centre opened at 10am we took a walk around amongst the birds which included some that are housed outdoors on tethers attached to stakes in the ground.

The first animals you see though are not birds but meerkats, three of them. It could be very hard not to go any further as watching these playful animals can be a time consuming affair.

Next to the meerkats is a room of display cabinets containing snakes and reptiles including an iguana. We guess these animals have a close association to the raptors even if they are associated as food for them.

Walking on, Gretchen got to put on a holders glove and have a falcon rest on her gloved hand. In the same area there were a number of other raptor birds sitting on stakes in the open air but tethered to the stake. Apparently they get to fly free a couple of times a week but always come back as they associate the place with their source of food. Most of the birds on display have come to the centre as their previous owners could no longer keep them as pets or they have been injured and were nursed back to health.

Many of the other birds which include a wide range of types of owls are housed in cages and you can get close up to them.

It was an interesting half hour or so and it was free!

Time to hit the road and our direction was northwest across the Midlands to the Peak District.

Serena when programmed with our end of day destination of Hayfield wanted to take us up the M1 when we got to the centre of the country but we wanted to stay on the A or B type roads which would take us through smaller towns and villages rather than the boring 4 laned motorway.

So it was a matter of programming in small steps at a time to weave our way northwest.

We didn’t have much option at the outset and took the A1 (M) towards Peterborough where we had an exit onto the A47 which would have taken us towards an entry into the Peak District at the lower end of the National Park and then drive through the centre towards Hayfield which is in the upper area of the park.

However, we missed the turnoff and we had to change our plan and took the next exit which was still going to give us a drive through rural towns and villages except that we would be making our entry to the Peak District from the eastern side near Mansfield rather than the south near Derby.

The A606 was a quiet road to drive and took us through a sparsely populated area until we came to the town of Melton Mowbray and it was almost midday we took a stop for some shopping for lunch.

The city of Nottingham stood in our path if we continued the direction we had been taking so we switched to a more northerly direction to stay in the countryside and crossed the River Trent on the A6097, a feature of the city away to our left.

So far the method of avoiding the M1 had worked but that became unstuck as we drove through the outskirts of the East Midlands town of Mansfield. Although the town is classified as a market town it also had a lot of heavy industry including coal mining from the past and the housing in the area we were passing through reflected its grimy history with row upon row of ‘two up and two down ‘dark red brick terrace housing.

We thought we had had it all worked out after we left the environs of Mansfield and crossed above the M1 heading west. But the confusing and inadequately(in our minds anyway)marked roundabouts where you have to get your lane right when you enter or you end up going in the wrong direction, tripped us up and we seemed to be going back towards Mansfield rather than towards Matlock on the edge of the Peak District.

Then the roundabout we ended up in had four lanes and as usual the markings were on the road and covered by cars ahead of us so there was nothing for it but to stay in the traffic flow and we ended up on the road we had been avoiding successfully all day, the M1!

It wasn’t a long time that we had to spend on the M1 and the opportunity to head into the Peak District soon came up and we exited the ‘madhouse of traffic ‘and headed west into what has to be one of the most picturesque parts of England.

It is interesting to think that despite all the ugliness of the crammed and congested towns and cities in the lower and middle parts of the country that there are some absolute gems of clean, open spaces such as the Peak District.

The area is very diverse in its geography and makeup but you always come back to the gently rolling green hills that seem to fold into each other as you travel through the area.

We had hoped to walk a trail at the end of the day and the village we are staying in is at the foot of the tallest peak in the park, Kinder Scout at 636 metres above sea level just over twice the height of the Mount at home. However the day has become much breezier as it has gone on and we have driven north and unless it subsides as the day comes towards an end it might be something we keep until next time we are here.

We passed by Chatsworth House a stately manor that is open to the public as we made our way into the park itself.

We were a bit surprised by the number of trucks on the A623 and then the A624 until we appreciated that the large industrial metropolis of Manchester stands just to the west of the upper middle part of the park and for truck drivers wanting the most direct route to places like Sheffield or the M1 then traversing the park was their easiest and probably quickest option.

The wind had in fact increased by the time we reached Hayfield and although we were sheltered down in the village in the valley we could see that trying to think of any walk up into the hills would not be a pleasant experience.

The George Hotel in Church Street (with the village church at the end of the road, of course) was built in 1575 or at least the bar and area that serves as the restaurant was built around that time. The ceiling had a clearance of just over 6 feet so I had to be wary of not cracking my head on one of the very solid beams holding the next two floors up as we signed in.

The hotel had been added to in several stages over the years with steps going up here and there to take you to the bedrooms all with en suite upstairs on two further levels. In fact the first set of stairs began behind a door that opened outwards as you entered a dining room and the door had a large notice on the other side to warn you to remember there may be people on the other side who won’t know you are coming through!

Instead of our hike we strolled around the streets of the village taking in the cricket green with its unusual sloping boundary on one side of the wicket. The slope was great enough that you would know you were running uphill if you had to turn and chase a well hit drive to save a boundary!

Then we started uphill with a row of terrace houses on one side and came across a house with a plaque informing passerby’s that this was the birth place home where Arthur Lowe the English actor who played the part of Captain Mainwaring so magnificently in the TV series Dad’s Army. It can be truly amazing what you come across on a casual stroll.

Back to the hotel we relaxed with a beer and nibbles before we decided it was time for dinner and so we headed down to the bar/restaurant.

The place was full of people eating at the numerous tables in the bar area and the dining room was full and we were starting to think that we might have to wait a while for dinner.

However the young bar person came to our rescue and by the time we had had a pint of local beer pulled for us a table had been cleared although she did warn we may have a 45minute wait before what we chose from the menu would be cooked for us.

While we waited for our dinners to arrive we sat back with our pints watching a group of woman who formed around a couple of tables nearby. We wondered at first what a group of middle to older age local woman would meet for in a pub in the village on a Wednesday night. Then it became clear as we could overhear part of their conversation. They were the local book club out for their regular meeting to discuss and recommend to others books they had read giving each one a description by the person who had read the book. It certainly passed the time as we awaited the arrival of our meals.Unfortunately,although we heard the description of a couple of the books we didn’t catch their titles and we felt we shouldn’t be nosy by asking what they were called which would have given us away as eavesdroppers.

What had started out as a drive through the English countryside avoiding the M1 and should have been relatively short in terms of time had ended up taking us much of the day and so we were ready for a good night’s sleep before we move onto Pudsey tomorrow and a long awaited catch up with my cousin Rhona.

PS:we didn't actually get to put our boots on and do some walkin' but any time is good for this chart topping hit many years ago for Nancy Sinartra.Enjoy from Youtube as usual.

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