Back to it! After climbing the monument in Hawkstone, we continued on toward the gorges and caves of the park. It was wonderful getting to explore with Andy’s family, since they knew all the best spots to visit, and I could’ve easily gotten turned around on the park’s many meandering trails. Not that Hawkstone would be the worst place to get lost!
The park had some natural and carved sculptures, which were really cool.
See the eagle?
When exploring with dogs, you often have to run ahead to get a clear photo sans canines, although I quite like this one with Barney in it.
I’m very familiar with this leader of the pack thing, since a certain Vallhund who shan’t be named needs to always be in front.
We soon arrived at the Swiss Bridge, which spans the Cleft. As you can probably surmise, the Cleft is a narrow opening deep in the rocks of the park.
After crossing the bridge, we took the path down to the bottom of the Cleft.
We had to take another trail and then duck in through a brief cave to reach the narrowest part of the gorge.
Despite Andy’s repeated threats that he was going to scare me or various members of his family (usually his sister, Kirsty), he didn’t end up succeeding. I think he later scared Jason by accident, though.
Once we popped out of the cave tunnel, we were met with breathtaking surroundings.
There were chains to help us along if the rocks got too slippery.
It’s hard to choose a favorite place in an amazing park like this, but the Cleft is definitely a contender. I love how the park’s quirky manmade structures were offset by gorgeous natural wonders.
Up next, we made for the Grotto, which is a maze of interconnected caves beneath one of the park’s hills. Some sources say it may have originated as a 5th-century copper mine, but regardless of its origins, its a very unique and interesting place, where your boyfriend will probably threaten to scare you.
Sure, he looks innocent enough.
It was hard to get a decent shot inside the caves, but luckily a few came out.
Emerging into the daylight on the other side of the Grotto, we were immediately greeted with another fabulous view.
The view back towards the Swiss Bridge, wreathed with flowers, was stunning.
We had to watch out for the Awful Precipice, though! It sounds like something from The Princess Bride to me.
This is how daunted I was by said Awful Precipice:
Mom and Dad, I’m not as close to the edge as I look in this picture. I promise.
At this point, Andy and I somehow managed to lose the rest of his family. Turns out they went a different way out of the caves than we did, so we ended up meeting them back at the entrance to the park.
Up next is my favorite structure of all, Gingerbread Hall, which just seems like something straight out of a Brothers Grimm tale. Love it!
Everywhere we looked, rhododendron flowers blanketed the ground.
We had a good hour’s walk to make it back to where we started, and we enjoyed the tranquility of the park as we wound along cliff-sides and through forests. We hardly passed anyone else until we neared the entrance.
Having made it back, we rendezvoused with everyone else for some ice-cream and lunch, in that order. Then, Jayne, Ian, Andy and I started on our way towards Wales.
I hope you enjoyed coming along for the walk through Hawkstone Park. Get ready for many more adventures to come!