Many of the group had camped out the previous night and were suffering, ever so slightly, from the effects of a rather late night - and maybe one too many lime & sodas.
At 10am the group, ably led by Ally, headed north up Dovedale, visiting some of the more accessible caves in the valley. Some of the less hung-over members of the group managed to squeeze into orifices that really weren't designed to be squeezed into.
Reports may well appear on Trip Adviser...'these caves are too small.....we weren't warned....there were no signs..it was too wet...there wasn't a cafe' etc.
Whatever, this being limestone country, AND it had been raining, the ground was often very slippy. I was the only walker with poles....and probably the only walker with a mud-free backside at the end of the day.
Our merry band swooped on Milldale's purveyor of pies, pasties, sausage rolls and coffee - it did a roaring trade as we attempted to buy up anything that was edible.
Suitably fortified, and many of the group looking decidedly less green, we wandered off westwards, towards our designated lunchtime rehydration stop.
The Royal Oak in Wetton provided warmth, dryness, beer and much sitting-down-ness. This was a Good Thing, giving many of the group the chance to get to know one another a little better.
It was good.
Whilst in the pub the heavens decided to do what heavens often seem to do best. Fortunately we were all well prepared for the wetness. Whilst it was wet it certainly wasn't cold.
Next stop was the declared object of the expedition: Thor's Cave. The entrance to the cave was very wet, very bare polished slippy-slidy limestone. I've explored the caves previously and didn't feel the need to risk life and limb on the ice-rink-like ground. I sat outside, ate my butties and had a hot drink
The group's exit from the cave was hilarious - many bums were bruised and muddied in vain attempts to retain some level of dignity and verticalness. Bum-sliding ended up being the most popular method of getting out. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough with my camera to catch the most spectacular exits!
We returned to Wetton and then headed a bit east of south, following the general course of the rather beautiful Manifold Valley, back to Ilam. The grassy ground was often quite slippy-slidy too, more walkers found themselves skating around on the muddy ground....adding to the muddy-bum numbers.
Some had muddy faces too!
A blurry Thorpe Cloud
I managed to wash the mud from my boots and gaiters by sloshing around in the shallows of the river running adjacent to the car-park. After a quick cuppa in the car I headed for home, getting back just after 7pm.
A cracking day out with great, fun company - rather reminiscent of the old Outdoors Magic meets. I loo forward to the next one.
Thanks to Ally for organising, Amanda for getting muddier than most (I have the photos but I simply DAREN'T publish them!) and everyone else for their good company...and all the laughs of course :-)
Where we went (anticlockwise):
More photographs here
Photos taken using either an old and weatherproof Olympus mju400 (when it was raining) and a Lumix TZ70....when it wasn't.