A change to my usual routine, with the kids being off for half term I took them on a little jaunty exploration of Kinver, I had recently seen a number of caves, bunkers and rock houses away from the main Austin House rocks.
With the eldest less than impressed with walking it was sure to be a fun day. We arrived a little before 10am and parked just down from the main houses on Kingsford Lane and set forth across the forest, its a cracking place is Kinver and as with most places one I have yet to fully explore.
Our first goal of the day was Nanny’s rock, I regaled the kids with the folk-lore, the home of a reputed white witch who would help heal and protect those that sought her out, there is a Meg O’ fox hole registered in the parish register and the cave some tines goes by this name. There was one lady, a local actress was the only one who would visit her and then one day the little old lady vanished, it’s depth also hid highway men they would emerge from the woodlands to rob people unfortunate enough to travel the road below. As I talked I stopped and swore blind I heard a lady’s voice say ‘nonny’ in my ear, I thought it was the eldest but she denied having said anything
We wandered on keeping level with the main road until I decided a little expedition across non paths was in order. Children in tow howled as they made up stories of being followed by ghostly beings, reciting horror stories of the last one being killed off leading to a jostling of order at the back. Before long we came upon Nanny’s rock
The cave was as promised brilliant, there has been a lot of clearing work here and easily accessible paths, the kids explored and marvelled at the many scribbles which adorned the walls,
We soon moved on heading down simple paths and in the direction of the infamous Drakelow Tunnels, we crossed mud, hills, mountain bike tracks and more mud, taking detours here and there. Passing Vales rock I exclaimed a man was at the top, the youngest took this a an apparition and screamed, which then set off the eldest screaming and me laughing as the man looked on in a condused way.
Before long we passed through Blakeshall Common and wandered by Blakeshall Farm and Solcum Farm
As we wandered down the lane, I spied behind the Moat Court Farm a raised area its lower few feet showed brick, perhaps part of the Drakelow Complex?
We soon got to our destination to the kids amazement
The kids reveled in the dim light, torches at hand and explored every nook and cranny, this particular building was the generator room and supplied main power to the Drakelow complex, there were two large diesel generators connected in a way that once main power went down the others would kick in, to the right and up a bank was a strange structure which resembled a lift shaft now topped off with a thick slab of concrete, all manner of odd pipes and holes protruded from its side to show strange metal hangers
Drakelow was built during 1941-1942 as part of a shadow factory for Rover to machine various airplane parts, it has over 3 miles of tunnels spreading 285,000 square feet through out this part of Kinver, in the 1950’s it was put to use as a regional government in the event of a cold war. There were 11 regional seats and these changed as planners reconsidered which areas would be struck.
The sites ownership is a little confusing, there is the Drakelow Preservation Trust who maintain the system as best they can, opening through the year for tours, ghost events and paintball events, there are parts still untouched as much of the Rover factory side was bricked up and left. It is worth noting that sat atop this historical complex lays an Iron age hillfort and Baxters monument.
After our little explore, we headed back towards Vale Rock where we cheekily explore the cave houses, signs warned of rock fall and this particular group of homes show the trouble with Sandstone as a building material, it’s brittle nature eroded over time by water and wind and parts have now collapsed
We explored in and out, the kids keeping quiet as voices were heard below, the large well offered a chance of stone throwing as we heard them hit the water but were unable to see the end. After a play we made our way back to the car and to a hearty lunch. A great day all in all and one the kids loved.
Kids can be hard to please on a walk, it’s good to set a story so it engages their brains.