We had a family day out last Sunday but where to go? First idea was Melton Mowbray but the shops and museum were closed so we decided on the rock houses at Kinver as B has been talking about visiting them for ages.
Kinver Edge is a diverse habitat comprising two thirds woodland and one third lowland heath and, due to the latter, is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The heathland habitat has formed as a result of human settlement as people grazed their stock on the sandy soil for hundreds if not thousands of years. Kinver Edge was given to the National Trust by the Lee family in 1917. The original 200 acres has grown to 579 acres due to further land purchases safeguarding the location from the threat of gravel extraction. It is an outcrop of red sandstone and Bunter pebble beds.
We couldn't get a space in the lay-by near to the rock houses so we parked in the next car park and walked back through woodland.
The National Trust took over Holy Austin rock in 1964. The name Austin is a corruption of Augustine so it is possible there was once a religious cell or hermitage here. Some rock houses were originally natural caverns and all have been excavated to some extent over the centuries. The earliest definite historical mention of a cave dweller refers to Margaret of the Fox Earth who lived in Nanny's rock and died in 1617. Not much is known about the earliest inhabitants although, in 1777 a Joseph Heeley who walked along Kinver Edge, mentioned a family who had excavated the rock and lived there. A deed of sale for one cottage exists dated 1801. By 1861 records show that 11 families lived at Holy Austin and there were also houses at Nanny's and Vale Rock. Occupancy of homes in the lower level ended in 1939 but teas were served at the upper level of the rock until the 1960s. The last family to live here in one of the Upper Houses was the Novak family and they finally left in the late 1950's.
By the late 1980's the site was hazardous and a project was launched by the NT and local people to rebuild the upper cottages which now house the tearoom. In 1996 the lower cottages were restored to look as they would have appeared in 1900.
Holy Austin rock is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the exposures of windblown dune sand deposited around 200-250 million years ago in the Permian when this area was hot, arid desert and at a time when the world's landmass formed one super-continent called Pangea. Each layer of compacted sandstone represents 100's of 1000's of years.
The visitor centre is on the lower level and from there you can enter two of the dwellings.
The walls were limewashed and, as you can see, from the photos, the rooms were cosy and homely.
Into the second dwelling.
Timothy about to try his paws at rag rug making!
People who lived in the rock houses had gardens and also kept livestock.
This is the Middle Level which has not been restored.
The Upper Level
A photo of one of the past rock house dwellers.
People have carved initials and messages into the sandstone over hundreds of years.
Time for tea and cake from the tearoom - mine was a Cherry Almond Cake and
before we left Timothy posed for another photo.
Then up to the Iron Age Hill Fort.
A handy seat
The last steep bit to walk.
Views from the fort - the town you can see is Kinver
After walking round the summit for a while it was time to return to the car and drive home. It was a good day out - I hadn't been for years although I used to visit Kinver Edge with my parents and grandparents when I was little.
*D Photos taken by D with the Canon SX50 bridge camera
The rest were taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix bridge camera - I discovered afterwards that the camera was set on one of the macro settings from when I had taken moth photos earlier in the morning and had forgotten to cancel the setting!! Am not sure if this has affected the quality of some of my pictures!
Reference: Guidebook to Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses by the National Trust.
Welcome to my blog. I have been interested in natural history from an early age and we have tried to create a garden attractive to wildlife. I also enjoy reading, photography, collecting fossils, visiting historic buildings and gardens and supporting Aston Villa. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like to email me, my email address is ciraggedrobinsATgmail.com - remember to replace AT with @. Thank you for visiting.