You can find a lot of history in a couple of hours walking on Derwent Moor in the Peak District National Park. Starting at Cutthroat Bridge on the main Sheffield to Glossop road, the bridge itself home to two murders several centuries apart, you immediately come across some Ordnance Survey history.
A benchmark right where the footpath drops down to cross Highshaw Clough. It is chiselled onto a gritstone boulder just before the footpath crossing the stream below meets up with the bridleway. The 1880 map has it at a height of 945.5 feet above mean tidal level at Liverpool, which was then the datum for height in the UK. The benchmark, an arrow below a line was also used as the survey data point for mapping the area. A second benchmark near to Whinstone Lee Tor is marked the same on the ground, but is marked on the map as a triangle with a dot in the middle indicating that this position was used to fix height (1492.0 feet), latitude and longitude.
Further from Highshaw Clough heading north east towards Moscar House is a stone milepost giving the distances to Sheffield and Glossop. This sits on the old Sheffield to Glossop road, before the present day course of the road was established in the early 1800’s. It gives the distance to Sheffield as seven miles. I like following the old roads as they weave their way across the landscape. Sometimes the way is lost which is when it becomes more interesting. Navigating a route that is not there makes me look at the land form and decide which way I would go if I had to choose. Using the natural lay of the land is often a good way of finding the route again.
There is a footpath a little further on that heads directly west up on to the grouse moor and then on to Derwent Edge. The way is full of interest the most prominent being a large standing stone on the right of the path, it is shown on the map above on the left of the path, so the path has moved in the last 160 odd years.
This beautiful stone stands looking out towards Stanage Edge and the moors of Moscar and Bamford with all their ancient history, stone circles, hut circles, Glory Stones and the fluted gritstone of The Old Woman Stone, an ancient standing stone menhir vandalised by the owners in the last century and brought crashing to the ground to stop walkers using it as a guide across the moor. Does this standing stone on Derwent Moor have a connection with the ancient places across the valley. It is evidently placed there by man judging by the large stones that are around the base keeping it in place. Did it mark the footpath or was the stone there before the right of way. There are no markings on the stone save for the fluting from erosion, which can also be found on The Old Woman Stone.
The footpath heads straight over the top and down in to Upper Derwent Valley by Grindle Barn, following the line of the old packhorse route to the village of Derwent. Before that where the path reaches the top by the final, or first shooting butt, the trail along Derwent Edge going left leads you to Hurkling Stones which judging by the lack of erosion around it is little visited. It has some interesting gritstone erosion with wonderful soft curves like the ones seen on Bleaklow.
As I was mooching around trying to find evidence in the way of chiselled markings that this place was the same place as mentioned in my post about the 16th Century Perambulation I came across a lovely stone trough.
The stone trough must be well hidden in summer. I wonder why it is there. No quarrying activities have taken place there and the area shows no sign of any other industrial workings. So I wonder if it is something to do with transportation. It is too far out of the way for the old Sheffield to Glossop road, or so I thought. As we moved away towards Whinstone Lee Tor I saw another stone trough maybe some 50m away from the first. Which leads me to thinking if it was some sort of stopping place and the troughs were for horses, but they are so small, so perhaps not. Worthy of more exploration and research I think.
All this in a two-hour walk. It is amazing what history there is at my very feet in the Dark Peak.
All of the items mentioned in the post can be found on or near Walk No.8 of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press.