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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

An Anchor Church Adventure

Some of our Rangers Rides are memorable, and some fairly routine by comparison.
Who can forget the epic Trailblazing Ride of January 2006 when we rode (and scrambled) the tortuous path of the Breadsall Greenway, then only a faint possibility of ever becoming an NCN Route. We struggled through the undergrowth and the mud, finally pulling our bikes and ourselves up a muddy 1 in 1 slope with the aid of a rope which Mavis Ratcliffe happened to have in her saddlebag.
The ride on 11th February was indeed another memorable outing. You never forget days like this.
Four brave and innocent Rangers set out on a cold morning to cycle to Anchor Church, which is not, in fact, a church at all, but a hermit's cave situated in a sandstone cliff alongside the River Trent at Ingleby.
En route we stopped for the obligatory pot of tea at the cafe in Repton and then cycled on, via Milton and Ticknall, to the village of Ingleby.
The cave is not directly accessible by bike, (presumably the hermit was of the pedestrian order) so we locked our bikes up beside the footpath which leads to the cave, and continued on foot.
The path eventually led us down to the riverside where the water level had risen about a foot since Keith did the reccee on the previous day.
"Never mind" says he, leading us along the path, most of which was by now below water level, that remaining being a very narrow and muddy slope with the 50ft high sandstone escarpment on our left and the swirling waters of the Trent a few inches to our right.
This went on for quite some distance, with Keith leading the way, followed by Ian, with Peter and I trailing behind desperately trying not to fall into the river.
In places the path led us up precipitous slopes where the danger of drowning was reduced, but the danger of slipping over the cliff edge was even worse, particularly for Peter and me, neither having much of a head for heights.
The route was eventually blocked completely by the murky water, but we did have distant view of the cave through the undergrowth.
Before wending our way back, Keith gave us a reading from his tourist leaflet and also a much needed blessing. Determined not to return by the same route we headed "inland" to circumavigate the dangers of the submerged path and the cliff edge. After climbing over several barbed wire fences we were eventually re-united with our bikes. What a relief it was to be back in the saddle, heading for a well earned meal in Melbourne, where we met Martin, who had ridden via Calke Abbey and therefore missed the excitement of the Anchor Church trek. Lucky him!

So - on reflection an exciting day out to a wonderful scenic spot with great views northwards across the Trent Valley in the direction of distant Derby. Magical rocks, grassy slopes, magnificent pines and other ancient trees. Certainly a place to visit again in better conditions. Next time we might actually get to the cave.
Pictures above show the the group at Foremark Reservoir on the way, blissfully unaware of what lies ahead.
Peter stepping gingerly along the narrowing and half submerged path with Ian and Keith urging him on, and me, camera in hand, hoping to get an action shot of him falling into the water. I was was disappointed.
And a general view of the surroundings.


Anonymous said...

No fear of getting run over then!
John Swan

Anonymous said...

No heads for heights, Iron and the Ferret were through the water and up the bank before you could say 'Anchor Cave' whilst the Welcome Cafe Weekday Luncheon Group were treading Trent water down below.

The Ferret