Tag Archives: Peak District

Stanton Moor

This was perhaps my favourite place, though words like that cease to have so much meaning in an area as beautiful as this one. We came up through the woods

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

We knew we were close to where we wanted to be, but we weren’t on the path we were supposed to be on, so looking for the nine ladies stone circle we found this instead:

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

No one quite knows what these are apparently, this one sits along the ‘Duke’s Drive’, possibly part of an effort to transform the moor into somewhere to visit and enjoy following Parliament’s Act of Enclosure in 1819.

Enclosure breaks my heart, but stone circles are a joy. The nine ladies (and a tenth stone face down was found after a drought some years back) are lovely — but quite small. It makes for a very different effect from the standing stones I know, or a circle like Stanton Drew or Stonehenge.

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor in its an entirety is a beautiful Bronze Age ceremonial landscape, covered both with monuments but also somewhere archaeologists now believe people to have lived and worked the land. From the conservation document detailing what is here to be preserved from the sandstone quarries that still encroach upon the moor:

The prehistoric monuments which survive on the moor include an unusually tight cluster of ceremonial sites comprising three embanked stone circles, a standing stone, and at least one (possibly two) ring cairns. A fourth circle, Doll Tor, lies to the west, just 250m outside the limit of the modern moorland. Close to these monuments lie more than 120 cairns, many of which appear to be primarily funerary (Figures C5 and C6). Again, the survival of a cairnfield with a very high proportion of funerary cairns is rare in the region, where only two or three other (much smaller) sites have been recognised (3.4.3.2). In addition, early 20th century excavation on the south-western fringe of the moor (2.5.1.4) revealed a large number of funerary urns and cremated remains in what may have been a fl at cemetery (Storrs Fox 1927).

It is an extraordinary place, made even more beautiful by August’s purple heather and the green hills beyond.

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

One of the beautiful and larger mounds, with evidence of the stone cist that used to sit in the centre, containing the mixed bones of ancestors

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

We followed the sandy path along the curve of the hillside

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Sat for a while here, to rest and look out over the landscape

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

A standing stone — the Cork Stone — towers over us, behind it an old quarry. Going up one side are metal staples and footholds dug into the rock. We didn’t climb it.

Stanton Moor Walk

Here it is looking back

Stanton Moor Walk

The edge of the quarry, picturesque now covered in golden grass and heather

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Coming up to Stanton Peak’s trig point

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Then back down the far side of the moor, back down into trees past old walls and lined pits

Stanton Moor Walk

Across fields

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

To what must have been another burial cairn

Stanton Moor Walk

A sheep with the hair of a greek statue

Stanton Moor Walk

And into Alport, lovely but we thought there was a pub, badly needed a pub, and there was no pub. Not until we walked up another very big hill into Youlgreave.

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

But it did have scenery and chickens

Stanton Moor Walk

Youlgreave was lovely, but we were too tired to explore it properly…

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Caudwell Flour Mill and Mill Stones Left Behind

In every city, town and village we have walked past old mills, now repurposed and turned into luxury flats most of them. It was good to see one still running as a mill, and even better to learn it was open as a museum. It was such a pleasure to walk around a working mill, see the history of past innovations. Had we not been about to embark on a walk of many miles up several large hills, we would have bought some flour…

Some of the exhibits discussed the changing technologies — both the move from the beautiful old water wheels that to my mind still signify a mill to the new water turbines that so much more efficiently powered the machinery, and the use of rollers to grind grain rather than the great circular millstones. Once upon a time mills were a ubiquitous feature of towns, villages and cities — I loved this map that showed just how many there once were in this area along the river systems:

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The change in the grinding of grain to bake our bread is just one of the changes that modernity has brought to our lives, a change to both the rhythm of our days and the food that we eat. I wonder if we can even guess now just how great a change that has been.

Caudwell's Mill

The machinery inside was wonderful

Caudwell's Mill

The Hammer Mill — ‘Miracle Mill’ No. 2, used to pulverize stock into powder:

Caudwell's Mill

Measurers and grain elevators:

Caudwell's Mill

Flour sifters at all levels of fineness, and their machinery:

Caudwell's Mill

Caudwell's Mill

Caudwell's Mill

This was less the amazing old machinery, and more the title — Baron “Dreadnought” Grinder:

Caudwell's Mill

You climb story after story, here is a view of the beautiful country from the top:

Caudwell's Mill

An old dust collector at the very top, of exquisite carpentry surrounded by bewildering belts and struts

Caudwell's Mill

This area was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, which impacted upon flour mills as much as mills of any other kind — the Caudwell Mill was in the forefront of some of these changes. It was fascinating to continue our walk, get a bit lost per usual, and stumble across further remnants of this past. Not without first passing one of the most lovely farms I’ve seen:

Stanton Moor Walk

and a chicken crossing a road — though too far away for questions:

Stanton Moor Walk

We climbed up into the woods

Stanton Moor Walk

We think we had already gone wrong at this point, but I could not be sorry. Because then we found this:

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Something to do with the quarry we think, though perhaps another mill. Up through more forest

Stanton Moor Walk

More ruins:

Stanton Moor Walk

To find a fallen stack of old mill stones — victims of technological change left here unwanted and unneeded…

Stanton Moor Walk

and perhaps this was part of the end of these quarries, now reclaimed by the forest and more beautiful thereby.

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

Stanton Moor Walk

This is heading up to Stanton Moor, which was more beautiful still, but more on that later. Better to sit with thoughts of human endeavour, how much everything has changed, what happened to technologies left behind and the men who once excelled in them…

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Wirksworth Trains and All Good Things

Look at the marvelous things people come together to get going and run in their free time — the train from Wirksworth to Duffield — the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway:

Train to Duffield

There was only one quite sad and rainy day on our little holiday this year, and so we did this, to enjoy the countryside from the safe indoors:

Train to Duffield

The trains are marvelous, and we sat in the front of course, as though we were driving — though only on the way back when we were some of the first back on:

Train to Duffield

Train to Duffield

That’s because on a wet Sunday, there wasn’t a huge amount to be done in Duffield. The foundations of the Norman castle, on a hill occupied in turn by Celts, Romans and Normans.

Train to Duffield

It doesn’t look like much of anything now, though once the keep measured 95 ft by 93 ft with walls up to 15 ft thick and an area of 5 acres.

Train to Duffield

We did love this hipster on a pennyfarthing though, half hidden behind the rubbish

Train to Duffield

And the old water pump

Train to Duffield

The wonderful door to Jacob’s Garden

Train to Duffield

The unfortunate phrasing of the plaque noting the girl’s school erected by the late Mr Jeffcock

Train to Duffield

This lovely pub reflecting the industrial history of this little town

Train to Duffield

and that was all before we reached Duck Island

Train to Duffield

Train to Duffield

or passed this window…

Train to Duffield

Train to Duffield

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Black Rocks — From Wirksworth to…Wirksworth

We climbed up up up the hill, past this sign that made me happy

Wirksworth Walk

Through the vertical village of Bolehill, catching glimpses of hills through the buildings

Wirksworth Walk

Finally up to the sun and the common, open spaces that I so long for when in London and Bristol”

Wirksworth Walk

A look back across the valley through which we had just come:

Wirksworth Walk

The panorama of light and shadow, sunshine and dark cloud that I love

Wirksworth Walk

Into the glorious woods

Wirksworth Walk

And finally to the Black Rocks trig point. It was quite a climb, I confess:

Wirksworth Walk

A look out across the world towards Riber Castle (a ‘new’ gothik castle built by mill owner John Smedley in 1862 — we walked beneath it coming back into Matlock, and visited his mill, but more on that later)

Wirksworth Walk

We came down the other side to meet the High Peaks Trail.

Once a lead mine stood here, the Cromford Moor Mine, shafts up to 128 metres deep where 100 men and women worked. They estimate the mine produced lead from before 1615 to about 1850. It opened again in the 1920s to mine white calcite — we remain so dependent on the mineral wealth we pull from the ground.

We followed it down passing old evidences of industry:

Wirksworth Walk

Wonderful rocks

Wirksworth Walk

The remains of the Cromford and High Peak Railway — power originating from the engine house pulled steel cables to haul wagons out of the pit and up the steep inclines. A giant wheel pulled the cables

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

It is a beautiful walk, this archway wonderful from this approach

Wirksworth Walk

My gaze quickly filled with awe as I walked through it, pictures cannot do it justice

Wirksworth Walk

Unlike some of the other places we visited, I feel I failed utterly here to capture how beautiful and mysterious and eerie it was.

Up we continued and up, a gentler climb but still climbing to the engine house:

Wirksworth Walk

The memories of the railway

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Unexpected wildlife

Wirksworth Walk

And then down into the quarries. Here is Middleton Mine, the only limestone mine in Europe, and also this funny story: An the organ grinder would come to play his organ at the midday break and send his monkey down a deep hole to where the miners sat to collect money — one day the monkey escaped however, and was never seen again.

Perhaps its ghost still roams, like the pickpocketing chimpanzee in Glasgow’s Panopticon.

The quarries contain a wonderful succession of warning signs involving stick figures in peril, including ballet dancers:

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Also, some naughty boys throwing rocks. Which made me laugh. Had I grown up here, I know my three brotehrs would undoubtedly have been stood in the exact same place throwing rocks into the water.

Wirksworth Walk

Then back down into Wirksworth’s lovely winding streets and alleys

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

Wirksworth Walk

And our first glance of their truly wonderful bookstore

Wirksworth Walk

and the beautiful church in its grounds

Wirksworth Walk

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Lumsdale Valley ruins

After a brief and beautiful losing of ourselves, we arrived exactly where we had been going — a series of two ponds in the Lumsdale Valley created to power the mills below, a centre of industry for several hundred years.

This whole area just south of the Peak District is a centre of industry, the springboard for the industrial revolution — though you would never guess now.

Cottages stand where an old lead smelter once sat, along with a counting house and ore house, from 1749 through the 1780s. One of the mills is perhaps from the 1600s, and a cycle of uses, from saw mill to paint mill to spinning and bleach — all of it happened in this stretch of buildings.

Starting with the old saw mill and moving through the valley — it no longer felt so important to recognise old uses, try to understand old processes and imagine what this scene looked like several hundred years ago:

Matlock Walk

Instead I wished I looked upon it with a practiced eye, so the layers of meaning and history could be sifted, brought forward in turn to form a whole. At no point in this place do you want to treat it as a museum. We didn’t linger long at the informative boards, and I am glad they remain few.

Matlock Walk

An early bleach trough, where they bleached skeins of yarn (and I imagine how toxic it all was, continues to be though you would never now guess):

Matlock Walk

This is never how I once imagined sedate English woods.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

An old square paint trough, I think, I am looking back now with charts at these pictures, they don’t quite match memory, but that is all right. To the left a tunnel that once led to a bridge across the stream. A curiosity now. A place to hide from other visitors and pretend they are not there.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

We wandered down the valley through one building and then another, alongside the stream for a while and the series of waterfalls that once brought power. It is hard, now, for me to imagine waterfalls as useful.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

The Bleach works, with an old millstone.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

The smithy:

Matlock Walk

I left the valley sadly. From there we climbed and lost ourselves again briefly through poor walk instructions, then wandered along the curve of a hill to looking back over Matlock from another angle:

Matlock Walk

Finally arriving at Starkholmes, and a well earned meal. And a cat.

Matlock Walk

then back down the hill to the bus, through a gimlet of holiday makers enjoying Matlock Bath. The Paignton of the North. Which I might ignore, but the country’s first pleasure parks were there? I meant to look into that a little more…

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Antediluvian Quarries, Peak District

We climbed stone stairs no one had tread regularly for a very long time…

Matlock Walk

we were off our path but we didn’t yet know it, because we were on someone’s path — though no one in the past few days perhaps. We followed faint traces to climb through heat and humidity, nettles and brambles stinging against our legs. Drawing blood. The valley opened up beneath us and we entered into pine forest — the first we had been in this trip.

Matlock Walk

A lovely, open pine forest scenting the air and full of light, not the close packed replacement and industrial forests. We had strayed from the way, but it didn’t matter because we found this.

Matlock Walk

A beautiful, eerie landscape

Matlock Walk

where stone-built walls and quarried stone faces mingled, all of it swallowed by moss and pine needles and trees so the natural world and the human one were almost indistinguishable.

Matlock Walk

Great slabs of stone, whether tumbled down or piled up almost impossible to tell, alongside great chimneys of rock.

Matlock Walk

Matlock Walk

Ferns of a green I still find hard to imagine, coming from the desert. The green of my dreams as a little girl.

Matlock Walk

Enormous mossy stones in piles

Matlock Walk

Sunlight streaming down through the trees, and everywhere a verdant landscape spilling across the distance. And us there, up above it in this place of human effort and labour swallowed up by the forest. This lonely place of memory now, and stillness.

Matlock Walk

Happy accident that brought us here. We followed this track back down the hill, and then found our way.

Matlock Walk

Of that more tomorrow…

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