Whilst we were at Peak Camp with our Home Ed friends this week we took a trip to Ilam, pronounced eye-lamb. This lovely little village out in the countryside is owned in part by the National Trust. The houses in the village are all built to look like swiss cottages as the owner of the time, Jesse Watts-Russell, felt that the valley and hills surrounding the village reminded him of the swiss Alps.
There has been a grand hall on the site since 1546, though it is thought there were settlements here long before that. The hall has been altered a few times and was bought in 1934 by Sir Robert McDougal who gave it to the National Trust. It is now a youth hostel though retains all the grand features and charm. The estate is still cared for by the National Trust and is great for exploring.
We had never visited before so after parking the car we headed to the information point where we found that for the very minimal fee of £1.50 we could buy an orienteering map. The boys hadn’t tried orienteering before but we had a compass with us so we were all good to go and it was a great little route around the estate taking in the church, river, woods and parkland in a large circular route.
After being shown how to line the map up with the north point of the compass and how that orientates the map to the way you are stood there was no stopping them. It seemed Panda became the map man by mutual consent whilst Tiger and Bean (who had joined us for the day) enjoyed racing ahead to find the markers.
For each point marked on the map and found using our compass there was also a written clue to help the boys know they were heading in the right direction. When all the points were collected they had a jumble of 18 letters that were an anagram. I confess we asked the lady in the National Trust shop for a little clue after spending our picnic time coming up with nothing!!
After we had completed both the course and our lunch we headed down into the village to look at the village cross that was erected as a memorial to Mary Watts Russell, wife of Jesse. It is now a grade II listed structure and is built of the local limestone. It has a cross at the top if a spire and some carved angels around, there is also an Ilam Imp carved in it which the boys enjoyed searching for.