Dark Peak Walks book review

It is always pleasing to get feedback like this. Thank you Ann and Austin.

Wow and Wow again. What a beautiful beautiful book.

We both individually turned to one of our favourite walks from days gone by. (Page 168) Your description of the series of water falls at Birchin Clough and the cacophony of notes, filled my heart and mind with memories and the sheer joy of it all. I am sitting here amazed.

And then my Ann said have you seen this? Showing me the inside of the wrapping paper, WOW! Could it ever be that my adventures could ever begin again? Only time will tell. As for now Paul, I/we will always want the good times to continue for you both, now and forever (and for Scout)

And also, never did I imagine that I’d be considering framing a piece of brown paper with a few special words written on or that I coil up a length of Sisal string to placed in a memory box.

All in all you have “done good” well done that man.

Thank you.

Austin and Ann

Please Vote for Dark Peak Walks in this years TGO awards here

Shortlisted for the TGO Book Awards 2017

Dark Peak Walks has been shortlisted for The Great Outdoors magazine book of the year award 2017
TGO Annual Awards 2017

Well this is great news. Dark Peak Walks, published by Cicerone Press has been shortlisted for The Great Outdoors magazine 2017 award in the book category.

You can vote in the awards here

Lost public houses of the Peak District

Many public houses on the old roads across the Peak District National Park have now long gone. Their remains can still be found if you know where and what to look for and have a bit of patience. The pubs were often associated with coach travel, packhorse routes, and as such were built near the roads and tracks, with large areas around for holding livestock. Stabling was provided for the horses and food and accommodation for the travellers.

The reason why the pubs gained their names is something of a debate and more often than not folklore. The Isle of Skye pub, which sat on the Isle of Skye road, the road getting its name from the pub and not vice versa, had nothing to do with travel to the Scottish Island and more to do with locals tales. It was said that workmen repairing the pub were sick and tired of the rain, nothing much changes you see in that area, and one of them remarked that he would be glad when they left as there is “a t’oil in’t sky” and from that it became the Isle of Skye. This may or may not be true.

One pub that made it on to the map was the Plough and Harrow on the Woodhead Road near Langsett. Originally the pub was sited in Langsett, or rather the sign was, the building it was attached to is now the Wagon and Horses. A local squire enclosed the land around Gallows Moss in 1812 and where the Woodhead road summits near to the new road across Gallows Moor he decided to build a new pub to catch the passing coach and packhorse trade.

This upset the owners of the Inn at Salterbrook, not more than a mile down the road towards Woodhead. At the opening of the new pub a fiddler from Woodhead village was employed to entertain the guests. The owners of Salterbrook ridiculed the new pub by telling everyone it was frequented by fiddlers and the name stuck.

The Plough and Harrow was prosperous for a while, then the arrival of the rail line across the Woodhead drew traffic away from the road and the building along with the Salterbrook fell in to decline. Today all that can be seen is some low stone walls and bits of rubble. The road across Gallows Moor replaced the old road that ran past Lady Cross and is now known as the A628 Woodhead Road which crosses Gallows Moss.

PB Walk 26 Dunford Bridge to Ramsden Clough

Birchinlee – Peak District

Remains of the railway trestle at Westend, Upper Derwent Valley, Peak District National Park
Remains of the railway trestle at Westend, Peak District National Park

Most people know of the two villages submerged beneath the Ladybower reservoir in the Peak District National Park. Derwent and the lesser know Ashopton villages have become synonymous with the Upper Derwent Valley. Few people realise that there was a third village in the valley, one with a greater population than the other two combined.

Birchinlee was sited on the west side of the valley between the Howden and Derwent dams. Most people now will walk or cycle through the village, perhaps take time to read the information board and maybe stare down into the remains of the pub cellar. Few will walk its streets running north south, the only evidence that something once existed here, is the raised platforms and occasional stone walling.

At its height over 900 people lived here. Schools, library, hospital, pub and homes all were built to house the workforce between 1902 and 1916. The buildings were made from corrugated iron, quick, cheap and sturdy, it is a material you can still find in old buildings today. The reason for the construction of Tin Town, as it became known, was in no small part to do with previous reservoir constructions over the hill in the Longdendale Valley.

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St James’s church Woodhead, Peak District National Park

It was common at the time for workers on the reservoir and dam construction to have to fend for themselves, this included finding accommodation.  When the Woodhead reservoirs were built, living quarters for the men and their families consisted of makeshift shelters constructed out of whatever the men could find, peat, wood, stone, and sited  on the moors above the valley. There was no sanitation, no running water and no provision for health or hygiene. It was not uncommon.

An outbreak of Cholera in the workforce of the Woodhead reservoirs killed many and to add insult to injury the dead were buried outside the grave yard of St James’s church at the village of Woodhead, having been deemed to be socially unsuitable to rest with those interred within the church grounds.

This and other such instances caused a public outcry and it started the move towards better working conditions for workers. Birchinlee village came about partly as a result of such tragedy.

The tragedy today is that very little remains of Tin Town. There are plenty of photographs but little physical evidence. At the end of the construction of the dams the village was dismantled and sold off for scrap. A few buildings did survive and became garden sheds and workshops. Pieces of history that found their way in to the everyday life of surrounding communities.

The only surviving building from Birchinlee, in the Upper Derwent Valley. Peak District National Park
The only surviving building from Birchinlee. Hope, Peak District National Park

If you turn off the main Hathersage to Castleton road at Hope, just opposite the church as though heading for Edale, on the right hand side of the road is a small white corrugated shed. Today it is a hair salon, sat on stone, with white corrugated iron walls and roof, wooden framework painted black and a large window that takes up most of the side facing the road. This is the last remaining building from Tin Town, an important piece of social and industrial history that is all but forgotten.

 

Grindleford Station walk – Peak District

Readers off Dark Peak Walks enjoying the first group walk. Dark Peak Walks. Author Paul Besley. Publisher Cicerone Press.
Readers of Dark Peak Walks enjoying the first group walk.

It has been a busy few days of late. A couple of call outs with MR, SARDA dog training, and preparation work for magazine articles and walks for the forthcoming books.

Sunday was a big day in a nice sort of way. A group of us went for a walk in the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park, one from my book Dark Peak Walks.

Speed Limit at Grindleford Station. Peak District National Park. PB Walk 5, Dark Peak Walks Book. Author Paul Besley. Publisher Cicerone Press.
Speed Limit at Grindleford Station. Peak District National Park

Fourteen people and four dogs set out from Grindleford Station and walked up to Higger Tor, PB Walk 5 in the book, only we did it in reverse so that we could visit Padley Chapel on one of its rare open days.

The Money Tree, Padley Gorge
The money tree in Padley Gorge

Walking up Padley Gorge with the stream thundering below us was a wonderful experience. We came across a money tree, lost of these popping up across the Peak District now.

Arriving at Carl Wark with Higger Tor in the background, Dark Peak, Peak District National Park. Dark Peak Walks book. Author Paul Besley. Publisher Cicerone Press.
Arriving at Carl Wark with Higger Tor in the background.

It was lovely to meet and talk with so many people interested in the Dark Peak and have a leisurely walk in the wonderful weather. Considering all the rain we have had the day was sunny and warm. The recent wet weather did work in our favour though with a marvellous display of heather across the moors. I cannot ever remember seeing the heather so vibrant in colour, huge great swathes of purple and pink stretching as far as the eye could see. It made for wonderful photo opportunities and great shots appearing on social media later.

The glorious heather surrounding Carl Wark
Vibrant heather on Carl Wark

I got a chance to show people things that are not in the book. Writing and publishing a book becomes a balancing act of what to put in and what to leave out. It is one of the reasons I started this blog, there is so much out there that is interesting in fields as diverse as human activity, wildlife, geology, cartography, history, anthropology, war, it is all there if you know how and where to look.

On Sunday we covered the provision of clean drinking water for the major cities surrounding the Peak District National Park and land ownership of the landed gentry on the Longshaw Estate. Then we moved on to World War II training grounds in the Burbage Valley along with the air raid defences around Sheffield near the Houndkirk Road. We visited the Iron Age hill fort at Carl Wark, packhorse routes across the Peak District and cartographic surveying by the Ordnance Survey on Higger Tor. We passed by the boundaries of Union Workhouses in the 19th century around Hathersage and Sheffield, sheep and crop enclosures on Hathersage moor. Setting of back to Grindleford we looked at millstone production at Bole Hill and discussed the changing fortunes of millstone production caused by the fashion for white bread. Saw the massive civil engineering on the quarry incline that transferred stone from Bole Hill to the Derwent Valley dam construction.

Padley Chapel window
Side window in Padley Chapel

Finally the fate of catholic martyrs in the 16th century at Padley Chapel that we were able to visit and have a guided tour.

We walked and talked for six hours and it was an absolute delight. And to top it all people gave £40 in donations that will go to Glossop and Woodhead Mountain Rescue Teams, for which I am ever so grateful.

To everyone who came thank you so much for your on going interest and your support of Mountain Rescue. After this success, general agreement seemed to be for another walk perhaps in winter, when we have had a good dusting of snow.

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.
Dark Peak Walks by Paul Besley

The Inglorious Twelfth

Male Red Grouse
Male Red Grouse on the track above Abbey Brook

Jack the Red Grouse who inhabits Abbey Brook needs to be lying low today.

The grouse shooting season starts today in the country. In the Peak District National Park, the sound of guns will be heard on the shooting estates of the Dark Peak.

The sport is one of the few sports regulated by act of parliament. The Game Act 1831 allows grouse to be shot between the 12th August and the 10th December. If the 12th falls on a Sunday it must start on the 13th.

Shooting butt above Ramsden Clough. Peak District National Park. Dark Peak Walks. Author Paul Besley. Published by Cicerone Press.
Shooting butt above Ramsden Clough. Peak District National Park

In the Dark Peak it is driven shooting that is practiced, driving the birds across a moor towards the people with the guns who are placed in a line of butts in the birds path.

Grouse moors in the Dark Peak can be closed during the shoot so it is best to check on closures by visiting the Crow Access website before you go walking.

Good luck Jack. Keep your head down buddy. See you near Christmas.

Read about Jack here

The Head Stone – Peak District

The Head Stone. Head Stone Bank. Dark Peak Peak District National Park. Dark Peak Walks. PB Walk No.7 Author Paul Besley. Publisher Cicerone Press.
The Head Stone. Head Stone Bank. Peak District National Park

Drive along the Snake road heading for Manchester and as you pass the Rivelin reservoir glance over to your left and you will see a tall rock tower standing alone on the moor. This is the Head Stone, so-called by Ordnance Survey.

It is unusual but not unique in the Dark Peak, being a rock tower devoid of any other surrounding towers. The Head Stone stands at the western end of a gritstone outcrop, not great in height but long and thin, with an accompanying boulder field strewn along its length.

As with any prominent rocks the Head Stone has gained its own mythology. It is said to be used in Pagan rituals, one of its names is the Cock Crowing Stone, a reference perhaps to the slaying of a Cockerel at the stone on the midwinter solstice. The ‘Head” is said to rotate on certain days of the year and at sunrise a face will appear in the stone on a particular morning. None of which are have specified days, which probably means it is not true! The Eagle Stone on Eaglestone Flat near Baslow Edge is said to do the same. Sunrise is obviously a busy time for geology in the Peak District.

It is also known as Stump John and Priestley Stone after John Priestley of Overstones Farm just below Stanage Edge, although why this should be so is not clear and could be erroneous.

The easiest way to it is by leaving the track that is Wyming Brook Drive and ascend up through Wyming Nature Reserve at Reddicar Clough. It is a nice little detour from PB Walk No.7 . As you come out of the Clough and through the sheep fence you work your way west across the boulder field, there is a nice path, towards the Head Stone. On the way you will pass several grouse water bowls carved into the gritstone rocks, and below the Head Stone you will find number 15, not often visible as the heather obscures its position.

PB Walk No.7

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Alphin Pike – Peak District

This is perverse I know, but believe me when I say there are people out there in the Dark Peak who will like nothing better.

As we have had some rain lately the moors of the Dark Peak area of the Peak District National Park will be wet, perhaps even boggy, maybe if luck is in, up to the thigh in deep clawing peat bog boggy. The bogtrotters will be in their heaven.

If you want a really good mash then head out to Dove Stones over in the north west of the park. Ignore the dog walkers and ice cream lickers around the car park and disappear down the Bradbury Lane, noticing the Ordnance Survey benchmark on the wall and aim for Alphin Pike a short hop up on to the top.

Incredible views if the weather is playing the game. Follow the edge around, above the Chew Road, spot Dead Man’s Layby, then head out across to Ashway Gap.

You are on your own across this and don’t blame me if you lose a boot or one of those ballet slippers the fell runners wear. Just keep heading north. Cry if you want, no one is around to hear you. Pass the Platt memorial, the irony of a shooter getting shot.

Then DOWN Birchen Clough. I am supposed to let you know here, if you are scared you can go up, reverse the route. Me I loved the challenge of dropping down those two sections where decorum is lost, almost as good as trying to get out of a grough after a heavy storm. Look you take responsibility for you own actions, if it is too much for you then don’t do it. Stay in the car park with the ice cream lickers.

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Birchen Clough, Peak District

I love this bit after heavy rains. The water just thunders. Deafens the ears. Gets the blood pumping. Take your time and enjoy it. This is one of the best waterfalls in the whole Peak. This is the outdoors, not a bloody shopping mall. At the bottom, if you are lucky it will be deep, not that deep that you cannot cross with care, a bit of excitement. It has never been more than knee deep when I have done it. The best way is to avoid trying to keep yourself dry and just step firmly out, poles might be needed for stability, just enjoy it. For crying out loud when do you get to wade across a stream, a stream, not a river, in the Peak District.

After that it gets boring, a reservoir track, a slog back to base. Get yourself an ice cream, you are the only one there who has earned a lick.

Dark Peak Walks PB Walk 30

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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.
Dark Peak Walks. Author Paul Besley. Published by Cicerone Press.

Derwent Village School – Peak District

 

I took a few moments on a recent walk through Derwent village in the Peak District National Park to have a look around the old school porch.

The education act of 1870 required all children between the ages of 5 and 12 to receive an education, and this meant that a new school was needed at Derwent to teach in excess of 50 children. The Duke of Norfolk who owned the land and was at the time making extensive alterations to the hall was advised by his managers that failure to provide a school would not be well received in the local community and worse a school governed by local officials would be established to comply with the act. The Dukes main concern was the position of the school which needed to be unseen from the house. A site further down the valley was an alternative but the owner would not relinquish it without a transaction of money. Hence the school and its present position.

Derwent Hall and school were redesigned by Joseph Aloysius Hansom the designer of the Hansom Cab out of Kinder Scout stone with ironwork by local blacksmith. The beautiful porch entrance has a Minton tiled floor, leaded side windows and stone benches. It is a delight to view.

Dark Peak Walk No.12