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Sighting Pillar

Sighting Pillar near Upper Head Moss. Peak District National Park

If you follow my walks in Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press eventually you will come across some weird objects. This is not uncommon on the Dark Peak moors of the Peak District National Park.

Aircraft wrecks abound, some wreckage such as the B29 on Bleaklow is extensive, others such as the Meteor in the Hagg Side plantation just a small pile of rusting metal.

There are the grouse butts and shooting cabins, some more elaborate than others. And occasionally you get strange wire compounds in the trees, used by the gamekeepers for rearing young.

One of the strangest sights are the towers, shafts and pillars associated with the tunnels that criss cross the Dark Peak.

On PB Walk 26 in Dark Peak Walks, Snailsden to Ramsden Clough there is a plethora of structures associated with the building of the tunnels. The shafts dug down to tunnel depth draw the line of the tunnel as it crosses beneath the moors. Often steam can be seen billowing out of the shaft and wafting its way across the moor. This lifts the spirits of avid steam rail fans in the hope that steam trains are once again running across the pennines. Alas it is not to be. The tunnels closed to trains 1981. It now serves as a massive conduit for National Grid power lines.

In the middle of the moor, seemingly at random is a concrete pillar with a strange rusting metal plate mounted on the top. It seems incongruous in this wild place, a man made object surrounded by wilderness. It is a sighting pillar made when the tunnels were being constructed. Used to mount a theodolite, it allowed the line of the tunnel construction to be checked to ensure it was running true to plan.

Dark Peak Walks Book by Paul Besley, published by Cicerone Press. 40 walks in the Dark Peak with detailed route descriptions, maps, photos and points of interest.

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