winding each other up and remember how much they love each other’s company. That only tends to happen on walks. Funny that. Then came the best bit of all. Climbing into the trees above Hansley Cross, the faintest of paths branched off to the right, appar
A fragment of the line still exists to the west as a steam heritage railway; see www. churnetvalley railway.co.uk
Towers. And by virtue of our Fastrack ticket, we were able to shorten our queuing time, which meant I could – finally – explore the ornamental valley. To my delight I discovered it was a damn fine walk in itself, and a great place for a quiet lunch, if you want to avoid the hubbub at the fast food outlets and get your breath back. Suddenly a big hole in my life had been filled. I’m not sure the moment was quite so powerful for Mol and Rosie. But it was brilliant for hide and seek.
For the record, when it comes to the main reasons you’d go to Alton Towers, Mol’s favourite ride was Rita; Rosie’s was the Octonauts Adventure in CBeebies Land. Mrs H says you can’t go wrong with the Congo River Rapids ( because all of us could go on it together) and I’m still a sucker for Galactica (formerly Air). This was just before Wicker Man opened – Britain’s first new wooden rollercoaster for 20 years – but I guess we have to go back for that.
When we do, we’ll explore a bit more of the Churnet Valley. Because as much as it was the rides that the kids told their friends about at school next day, Richard’s pictures reveal the truth: that a family ride in the Rollercoaster Hills was every bit as magical.
THE GOBLIN IN THE ROCKS
It’s actually Molly telling Rosie she had found a little cave to explore, but ‘rockgoblin’ seems more apt somehow.
THE GHOST TRAIN The trackbed of the Churnet Valley Line passes through the abandoned Alton station.
BEATING THE RETREAT The Rambler’s Retreat: one of the finest tearooms in the middle of nowhere that you will ever come across.