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.

thumb_p1070653_1024
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

Read the book reviews here

Buy the a signed, gift wrapped book here

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.

OS Benchmarks in the Peak District

Ordnance Survey map of 1882 showing Woodlands Valley in Peak District National Park
Ordnance Survey map of 1882 showing Woodlands Valley
REPRODUCED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND HTTP://MAPS.NLS.UK/INDEX.HTML

Old maps are a great way to follow the history of the landscape. Ordnance Survey have been surveying the Peak, then the Peak District National Park for hundreds of years. The maps we know today started life back in the mid 1800’s when teams of surveyors were sent out across the country to accurately measure the land, the buildings, boundaries, rivers and roads.

To accurately measure height the surveyors took a datum of the mean tide height, firstly from Liverpool and in later years from Newlyn. Having one fixed point, a benchmark, all other measuremenst could be taken as the surveyors worked their way across the country. Each time they measured the height of a particular spot they would mark the position with a cut mark of an arrow pointing up to a horizontal line, the benchmark.

Ordnance Survey map of Hag Farm showing benchmark position
Ordnance Survey map of Hag Farm showing benchmark position
REPRODUCED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND HTTP://MAPS.NLS.UK/INDEX.HTML

Benchmarks were placed on solid stone, stone buildings, stone gate posts, and walls, fixed items or structures that were unlikely to be moved. In total there are in excess of half a million benchmarks in the country, with over six thousand as the flush brackets most commonly seen on Ordnance Survey triangulation pillars.

So that still leaves a lot to be identified and spotted when out walking. The benchmarks are a good navigational challenge, and an excellent piece of detective work. Looking at old maps, such as the ones above, the benchmarks can be identified as small arrow heads along with a number in feet. Old boundary walls, buildings and gate posts are the easiest to find. Harder are the ones placed on boulders in the middle of a moor for instance. Judging the grid reference from an old map can be a challenge, but when you have got it right and you arrive at a benchmark in the middle of nowhere it is a great feeling of achievement.

The benchmark shown in the map from 1882 above shows a position and height of 872.4 feet and is at the junction of two tracks. Today one of the track has a gate across it and the left hand gate post has the benchmark beautifully cut a foot or so above ground level.

Today Hag Farm is called Hagg Farm on the current OS map, yet another interesting historical feature of old maps. In fact all the names on the 1882 map starting or ending in “Hag” now have an extra “g” added and this seems to have happened between 1880 and 1897 when the next OS revision of the map took place.

Ordnance Survey map of Woodlands Valley 1897. Peak District National Park
Ordnance Survey map of Woodlands Valley 1897
REPRODUCED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF SCOTLAND HTTP://MAPS.NLS.UK/INDEX.HTML

Perhaps the names were changed by the surveyor or a greater understanding of local names and spellings was achieved for greater accuracy. Whatever the reasons, the Ordnance Survey maps for a fascinating and beautiful historical document.

All of the items mentioned in the post can be found on or near Walks No.13 of Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press.

Buy Dark Peak Walks book here

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.
Buy the Book

Ordnance Survey surveyor marks

Lots of discussion on social media this weekend about Ordnance Survey marks on the gritstone of the Dark Peak in the Peak District. A topic that fascinates me with every walk including a foray into the wilderness to try to find some elusive mark made more than a century and a half ago.

Top left is a benchmark used to establish height at a point on the footpath to Stanage End from Moscar.

Below that is a benchmark used to mark a survey position on Higger Tor.

Top right is a really interesting one. An arrow below a square box with a dot in the middle. This denotes a survey height taken from the ground and not estimated. On modern maps today these are denoted as a black dot with a height number as opposed to an orange dot which denotes a measurement taken from the air.

Bottom left is a lovely levelling bolt, indicating a survey position near Laddow Rocks.

Bottom right two survey marks, one for levelling and one for triangulation found on Back Tor on Derwent Edge. On the left hand mark is a benchmark made by Lieut Barlow RE when he carried out the triangulation in 185. The right hand mark denotes a spot height taken in 1854 by Capt Kerr RE to establish the contour lines.

All heights back then used the Liverpool datum and approximate average of the sea height there. Nowadays the OS maps use the Newlyn datum taken from the tidal measuring station in Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall.

 

Easter Competition – Peak District

One Book or One Wapentac Map’n’Lite to be won over the Easter Holiday. Competition closes Sunday midnight. Email your answers to paulbesley@gmail.com

(If you do not want your email to be used for future competitions and offers please state so in the email.)

All triangulation pillars, points and benchmarks appear on or near the walks in Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press and available HERE

Identify each Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar or triangulation point.  Name of triangulation pillar and grid reference required. Also which one is the odd one out. Wins a Wapentac Map’n’lite of Froggatt Edge

Ordnance Survey Triangulation Points and Triangulation Pillars

Identify location of each Ordnance Survey benchmark or survey mark . Grid reference would be superb. Wins a signed gift wrapped copy of Dark Peak Walks. Closest answers will win.

51m7jmt8k-l-_sx335_bo1204203200_
Dark Peak Walks by Paul Besley

Ordnance Survey benchmarks and survey marks.

 

 

 

History on Derwent Moor – Peak District

1880-os-map-derwent-moor
1880 Ordnance Survey map of Derwent Moor. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. http://maps.nls.uk/index.html

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.

benchmark-above-highshaw-clough
OS Benchmark near Highshaw Clough

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.

benchmark-near-whinstone-lee-tor
Benchmark denoting survey point for height, latitude and longitude near Whinstone Lee Tor

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.

Standing stone on Derwent Moor, Peak District National Park
Standing stone on Derwent Moor

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.

Gritstone erosion at Hurkling Stones.
Gritstone erosion at Hurkling Stones.

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.

Stone trough at Hurkling Edge
Stone trough at Hurkling Edge

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.

 

 

Ordnance Survey Ephemera

thumb_lost-lad-bm_1024
OS Map from 1852 showing position of survey benchmark.
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland http://maps.nls.uk/index.html

There are quite a few bits of survey ephemera along Cut Gate in the Dark Peak. Benchmarks are much in evidence if you know where to look.

Just above the words “Lost Lad” on the 1852 Ordnance Survey map of Cut Gate, high above Langsett, there are two benchmarks denoted, the B.M followed by the elevation above Mean Sea Level in feet. Mean Sea Level in them days was taken from the measurements obtained at the Liverpool Datum, whereas today it is Newlyn. The first Benchmark happens just before the ford which is the turn off point for the spot height on Lost Lad itself. It is simple arrow beneath a line, but unusually is on a flat surface and not a vertical one, making it a little difficult to be accurate in the measurement. It is also accompanied by the initials RW, Rimmington Wilson the then landowner, chiselled at a later date and certainly with not as much skill.

thumb_p1070951_1024
The Benchmark on a gritstone boulder on Cut Gate

Heading down the Cut Gate path towards Langsett a further benchmark can be found on the gate post of the boundary wall at Hingcliff Common.

thumb_hingcliff-common_1024
Benchmark shown on 1891 OS map on Cut Gate below Hingcliff Common
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland http://maps.nls.uk/index.html

Grouse had been introduced onto the moors for several decades when the benchmark was carved so it would have looked pretty much the same as today with one exception. The Cut Gate track went through the gate posts where as today the line of the path goes someway to the south-east.

thumb_p1070944_1024
Benchmark on the gate post along the line of the 1891 Cut Gate, Langsett

A surveying team would consist of a surveyor and his assistant. The surveyor took the reading and the assistant held the staff and lugged the equipment around. It was the surveyor who chiselled in the benchmark. I often try to imagine the team out in all weathers mapping the area. Around these two benchmarks are many more plus triangulation points on Hingcliff Hill and Pike Lowe to the east. The maps they produced are remarkably accurate and can still be followed today on the ground. The really interesting thing about old maps are the items marked that are no longer on modern-day maps.

History on Higger Tor

Yesterday I spent a few hours on Hathersage Moor and Higger Tor seeing if any benchmarks shown on old maps would still be evident today.

The image from the old map above is taken from a survey of the Moor carried out in 1852. Would the benchmarks shown still be there, did they actually exist or were they just markings on the map showing where a measurement had been taken from? What did they actually look like?

The one on Higger Tor, (Higher Tor), seemed to be the easiest to find. It’s the small arrow between the ‘r’ and ‘T’ of ‘Higger Tor’. The marking is not to scale obviously, nearby there is a triangle denting a triangulation point. It also has lots of features to aim from and sure enough that’s how it turned out. It took a while of rummaging around and at first I was looking for a benchmark on a vertical surface and chiselled in the style that is normally seen on buildings and gate posts. Then I found it, on a large flat stone, in the middle of the edge path. The marking was on a horizontal surface and pointed west, not north as in the map. It was a simple arrow with no levelling line at the tip of the arrow. The mark was still very clear, although if you weren’t looking for it you probably wouldn’t notice it. Did they take the measurement and then make the mark or vice versa? A Benchmark denoted a levelling point, hence the number, in feet, nearby, and the triangle marked the spot for triangulation. Are they one and the same place or was the triangulation in a different spot. Close by there was a spot that would have been perfect for a tripod and theodolite.

Dropping down from the Tor onto the Moor I set out to find the other two marks that are shown on the map as you head south-west towards the walled enclosure. Success was not to be mine. I needed to do a great deal more work on the position of the marks. The bracken hid many boulders and time had allowed moss and lichen to grow over a large number. I didn’t want to disturb too much so looked but could not find the two.

I did find other items of interest though. A possible burial cairn, complete with chamber. A partially finished grindstone, some way from the traditional grindstone fields and more markings that were different to the Ordnance Survey marks.

A few hours spent walking in the foot steps of surveyors and masons and perhaps Bronze Age man.