Sentinels of the Dark Peak

Howden Clough in autumn, and the Derwent Valley Water Board marker post by the little reservoir. A wonderful spot and a good way up on to Howden Edge. Did you know there are three places called Howden Edge in that part of the Peak. Could be confusing if you arrange to meet someone.

It is a lovely walk from the east track of Howden Reservoir, up through Clough Wood which is all oak and beech and in autumn sun dappled leaf motifs project onto the woodland floor which makes me slow down, and turn this way and that. I like to stop at the gate that leads in to the Clough, often if I am lucky I see Mountain Hare still in summer coat working away between Howden and Stony Bank Cloughs. Lepus Timidus to my mind is the true owner of these moors, the great icon of the Dark Peak. When one joins me on a walk, which they often do, it is such a joy, such a privilege to have their company.

No sooner have you left the woodland, you are presented with a small reservoir and dam, which seems odd, up here, when there is the great Howden Reservoir below which this flows into. By the side of the track and often overlooked is a small post bearing the letters DVWB, Derwent Valley Water Board. It is beautifully made, a small piece of craftsmanship in this wild place. To the touch it is a pleasure, its surface soft and smooth and cold to the fingers. Someone took time to design this insignificant object, to give its edges a radius so that when you run your hand over it there is no sharpness. And when it had been cast, someone took time to finish it as if it would be on show in the most prestigious of public places. But it isn’t, it’s here on the moor with the Mountain Hare, sentinels of the Dark Peak.

 

Author: Paul Besley

Writer I have spent most of my life escaping into the Peak District National Park, I have grown to love the solitude it can bring. I also have an interest in the growing field of psychogeography particularly, in post-industrial landscapes. I am the author of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press. I am also studying Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.

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