Intrepids, six of us sallied forth into what the BBC weather forecast described as rain all day. We journeyed forth to the NT car park at The Ramblers Retreat on the Red Road near to Alton, to arrive there at about 10.30am.
We fortified ourselves against the elements by donning waterproofs and umbrellas against the steady rain that was falling and set off along the woodland path adjacent to the car park, giving us an indication of the muddy conditions that lay ahead.
After a short while the path took us down to the road where we made the decision to head UP another woodland path which would take us up to Toothill Rock, which would give us, hopefully, a good view across the Churnet valley to the woodland areas surrounding Alton Towers Leisure Park. The climb was very steep and slippery with bare rocks and exposed tree roots, but after one or two pauses on the way we eventually made it to the high ground without a fall! After a few hundred yards we arrived at Toothill Rock. The view across the valley showed us the river and the track of the old railway line which followed the path of the valley to our right and into the distance towards Rochester and Uttoxeter. We also had a glimpse over the trees of the Flag Tower in the leisure park and witnessed the creation of some ‘smokey clouds’ (I think due to the wet weather conditions) rising up from out of the woods. If we twisted our heads over to our right (not standing to close to the edge of the cliffs while doing so) we could catch a glimpse of Alton Castle on ‘our side of the valley’.The height above the valley of the cliffs we were standing on was perhaps about 100/150 feet.
Retracing our steps back to the main path we eventually managed to make or way to the lower part of Alton village, emerging by the side of the Royal Oak public house. Knowing that Alton is a very interesting village to look around we climbed up to it’s main part where we saw many finely built houses and gardens and many pubs! We visited the parish church of St. Peter which had been originally built in the 12th century and had been repaired and heavily victorianised over the last couple of centuries.
We also visited the area around the castle which includes the catholic church, the school and convent (not open to visitors, not even the church) which were built by the Earls Of Shrewsbury in the early 18 hundreds. It seems that the catholic church owns quite a section of old Alton.
Retracing our steps and passing by the side of the parish church we reached the main Alton to Farley road and descended to Alton bridge (seeing two more pubs, The Alton Bridge and The Talbot) bringing the total number of pubs in the village to about seven or eight! Finally we crossed the bridge over the Churnet, and dropped down to our left to descend onto the old railway line path and headed in the direction of Oakamoor, dodging much sludge and many pools before we left the railway line and headed to our food destination, The Ramblers Retreat, so well named!
And do you know what, it stopped raining after we had changed from our boots and brollies and headed into The Retreat. But never mind it was a good lunch we had! Thanks for being with us Regards Chris B.
PS I think it was a good idea where possible, to travel along minor roads to get to our destination and miss the main road traffic and possible hold ups, don’t you? It certainly hones up ones driving skills!