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Springtime walks: Croxden Abbey and Shining Cliff Woods

It seems to be taking a long time to get properly warm, this spring. But suddenly there are flowers everywhere and the world has turned green. We had to go and see it all.

Croxden Abbey

800 years ago, there was a community of 70 monks at Croxden Abbey, hidden away in a beautiful nook of Staffordshire. Now there are peaceful ruins, carpeted with soft green grass. It was hard to imagine the space filled with busy worship and work.

Croxden abbey cloisters

the west door of the church

We had parked at the village of Hollington and walked down the hill, playing a game of spot-the-animal. In just a few short fields we had seen sheep, cattle, horses, alpacas, rabbits, a dog, and even a donkey. We decided we only needed pigs to make our farm animal collection complete!

It wasn't a long hike - we probably spent just as long eating snacks and playing hide and seek in the abbey ruins, as we did walking. Our return journey took us past a few horses, but sadly no pigs. We followed an old Roman road (now tarmacked) back to Hollington, where we removed ourselves from history and jumped into our very modern car.

Shining Cliff Woods

It's bluebell season! Usually that means a trip to Calke Abbey, but this time we decided to venture a little further afield. Shining Cliff Woods are just off the A6 between Belper and Cromford. They certainly lived up to their name on a surprisingly warm April day. The sunshine picked out startlingly green leaves, enthusiastic streams, and yes, the gorgeous colour of bluebells in bloom. 

We had paused at a direction sign when some people came past and said, "Go that way, it's more interesting". That way took us up to a small reservoir, built to supply power to a wire works in the valley below. It had a No Swimming sign which I suspected many people ignore - it looked a perfect place for a wild dip. 

Further on, we passed a hostel and a fire circle tucked under a rocky outcrop. Graham had read about a 2000 year old yew tree at the other end of the wood, so we set out to find it. After a decent hike we found it - a broken stump, with two tiny yew saplings bravely carrying on the family line. Definitely not the enormous gnarled tree we had been expecting!

Theo and I by the stump

Fortunately the path back down the hill turned into a stream, which turned our walk into an exciting hop from rock to rock. The boys forgot their disappointment as they splashed their way down as fast as they could. 

We came back through the derelict remains of the wireworks factory, which closed in 1996. This blog is worth a look if you like photos of deserted buildings - they obviously had a good time exploring the wireworks. Most of it is securely bricked up now, to prevent entry. So here's our attempt at a family selfie instead.


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