The attractive stone-built village of Wetton stands amidst rolling hills, rocky outrcops, undulating valleys and farmland above the glorious Manifold Valley, where the river gently flows – or at least, as far as Wetton Mill, where, in dry weather, it disappears into swallow holes before re-appearing again at Ilam, some four miles distant.
The village is centred around a green and has an interesting 14th Century church. St Margaret’s has an exterior staircase to the belfry, which unusually for a small village church houses six bells. Close to the church is the local inn – The Royal Oak, where not only can you purchase good food and ale, but also stay on their campsite in an adjacent field. If camping doesn’t appeal, they have recently added a self-catering barn conversion to their repertoire. The Royal Oak’s claim to fame are the world toe wrestling championships, which began here in the 1070’s!
The Old Vicarage, close to the green also has a self-catering cottage attached to it, but if you wish, you can stay in the main building where B&B is an option. Nearby, are Hall Farm Holiday Cottages, set in a two acre paddock. It is certainly worth-while spending some time in this beautiful area as there is much to see in the immediate vicinity. Wetton itself has pretty stone cottages, a village hall (the former school) and heading out towards Hulme End is the former Methodist Chapel. The walking offers amazing variety; either steady strolls along the disused route of the former Leek and Manifold Light Railway, which most of the way is suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs, or more strenuous hikes taking in some of the surrounding hidden valleys, woods, hills and limestone tors. The most famous sight, a short walk from the village heart, is the impressive Thor’s Cave; high up on the hillside, it towers above the valley and its 60 ft high entrance lures you in to explore. Below is Wetton Mill, a former corn mill now owned by the National Trust – the tea rooms here, beside the river, are very popular with day-trippers in summer months.
Rock climbers gravitate towards Beeston Tor, just to the south, whilst the surrounding peaks of Wetton Hill, Wetton Low, Sugarloaf and Ecton Hill are a draw to hikers. However, not all the great walks are high up – the undulating “strip” fields leading to neighbouring villages also have excellent footpaths and are usually less busy. Wetton is located approximately half-way between Butterton and Alstonefield, each being around two-and-a-half miles away, and there are lovely walks leading to them both; once there you will discover excellent watering holes, for in Butterton there is The Black Lion, and in Alstonefield, The George.
Should you wish to wander further afield, ever-popular Dovedale is five miles distant and the market towns of Leek to the west, and Ashbourne to the south-east are eight-and-a-half and ten miles away respectively.