The drive to the next attraction, took us through some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery of all, with the road curving along the route I imagine was originally carved out by the same Glaciers that had helped create the Blue John Cavern we had just left. Seriously steep hills towered above us on either side and there were more of the worryingly close roadside drops that had so unnerved poor Little Mudlet earlier in the day but we eventually emerged into flatter countryside.
Passing through the pretty town of Castleton, we made a promise to come back and visit it another day, possibly taking in the ruins of Peveril Castle and maybe another Cavern – the one with the leg saving boat ride would be nice I think.
A short while later and our destination came into view, well sort of! As we had been planning the day earlier in the week, Mud had realised that the Cavern wasn’t too far away from the Ladybower reservoir and came up with the plan of driving across to it, parking up and walking across the dam. To put this into perspective, you have to understand that our girls have grown up with regular flybys of the only Lancaster Bomber still flying in this country, with or without the rest of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. They have even visited the museum where the flight is housed. The role this impressive aircraft played in the Dambusters and the whole bouncing bomb thing, has really made a big impression on them and so we knew that a walk across a genuine dam would be a huge hit.
As it turned out, parking was going to be a bit of an issue, especially as it would cost £2.50 for what was essentially going to be a 20 minute stop. Frustrated, Mud drove along the side of the reservoir and we eventually pulled into the visitors centre a couple of miles further on. As we drove along towards the main visitor centre we could see free car parking spaces dotted about but these were few and far between and would have involved expending some serious energy to get down to the waters edge, energy which none of us had by this time.
Arriving at the visitor center we resigned ourselves to having to pay the extortionately high parking charges, decamped from the truck and went to look for a way down to the waters edge. Thankfully for everyones legs, some considerate planner had installed a set of lovely wooden steps down to what I assume would ordinarily have been the woods and paths that ring the reservoir.
As it was, the water level was unexpectedly low when you consider that it rain solidly for pretty much 9 months of last year and it had obviously been like this for some time, as greenery was growing and well established on what was effectively the reservoir floor. We could even see the remains of the buildings that had been flooded when the dam was built.
We walked slowly along taking in yet more stunningly beautiful scenery, all the while being stalked by a goose! Of course geese make excellent guard dogs and can inflict some damage and so i generally tend to give them a very wide berth but this particular specimen was plainly used to visitors feeding it and was looking decidedly unimpressed when we started to make our way back to the tree line and it realised that our pockets and hands were empty.
Heading back to the steps, we came across a little bridge over a brook which fed into the reservoir and this gave Mud an opportunity to reminisce to the girls about similar trips out with his dad which involved him and his sister making dams from twigs and rocks. As always the girls found his recollection fascinating but before we started to make our way back to the car, Mud stressed the importance of ensuring that any such construction is cleared away before you leave to go home, to prevent damaging the ecology.
Twenty minutes later we were finally heading for home. Three visits in one day had left each and everyone of us completely exhausted and with a host of memories, sights and experiences to process. We will definitely being revisiting the area again but Little Mudlet rather we stuck to nice flat roads and adventures that didn’t involve the need to emulate badgers, moles and bunnies …… in short, no mountain tracks or subterranean destinations next time please daddy.