Otters, owls and opportunities
What are your views on Fate? I’m quite a strong believer in the idea that opportunities are laid at your feet, though it’s up to us as individuals to step out on each path or not.
Why do I say this? Well, the Sunday just gone was booked in for absolutely ages for Matt and myself to meet my friends Jen and John for the Go Ape Treetop Adventure in Buxton. Tickets were paid for, a start time of 11:00 set, and outdoor gear prepared.
Then things began to go awry. We got stuck behind cyclists, then a tractor, and then Macclesfield had two road closures and thus diversions. We made it to Go Ape eventually – at 11:07, just as the safety briefing had got underway. Matt and I were too late to join the group, although fortunately Jen and John got on with the experience.
Go Ape kindly offered us a refund in the form of two gift vouchers, which we’re sure to use at one of their sites. Maybe not the Buxton one, as it seems to be cursed for poor Matthew, who has failed to enjoy it on more than one occasion…
So how did it happen for a reason? Matt and I have a list of Things We Plan To Do. It’s an ever-growing list, but we’re certainly ticking things off too. One item on the list was The Chestnut Centre between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Castleton in Derbyshire. I’d driven past it plenty of times, but it took Matt researching to inform me it’s an otter sanctuary/wildlife conservation space. I’d always assumed it was a children’s activity centre/youth hostel-type place!
We drove from Buxton to the Chestnut Centre and I loved it. Such a good cause and so entertaining. You wander through a simple yet well-stocked little gift shop and café to buy tickets and head out through the gates to the modest deer park.
Down the hill you pass through more gates to reach the side of the stream, which feeds several small enclosures. A few of them are occupied by lively or loud (or both) otters, ranging from energetic asian short claw otters to entertaining giant otters.
One giant otter in particular was eager to have fun and please the crowds at feeding time (from 12:30, including polecat feeding too). This otter loved his metal bowl, and must have spent at least half-an-hour splashing about with it and wrestling it up the bankings.
Besides the otters and polecats, the centre houses various owl species, foxes, Scottish wildcats, pine martens and rehabilitating badgers (some you may not spot).
It was totally different to Go Ape – well, maybe as wet as Go Ape would have been with the rain – but totally meant to be. I’m pleased to have been able to contribute to the wellbeing and recovery of so many different creatures through my ticket purchase. Adoption is an option for the visitor too. I strongly recommend this little gem tucked away in a valley to anyone and everyone.
As for Jen and John… They had a great time at Go Ape, and we managed to catch the, afterwards for a couple of hours eating and drinking in The Bull’s Headin Castleton.