Last year I walked one of my favourite routes in the Dark Peak. I followed a bed of Kinderscout Gritstone for several miles, using its vertical edges to cross the landscape.
Kinderscout gritstone is interspersed with layers of shale and mudstones. These can often be seen exposed in sharply incised cloughs, where a stream has cut through the edge of the gritstone bed and revealed its many layers. Going up or down a clough can literally take you through millions of years.
In places the gritstone is 150m thick and at Crow edge both the top and bottom edges of a gritstone layer can be seen. Kinderscout gritstone tilts both south and east as it flows down the Upper Derwent Valley from Swains and form one half of the watershed. To the north and west gritstone mixes with the coal measures of Yorkshire and Lancashire.
Bleaklow Stones, Barrow Stones, are good examples of gritstone left behind through erosion. Bleaklow Stones is a particularly good example, it is as if someone just walked away from a game of marbles. The Horse Stone is similar but has weathered differently showing a the wind sanding down the softer layers to leave a pancake stack effect. In places erosion has weathered the gritstone to form precariously balanced rocking stones, some of the best place to see this is on the tors and outcrops, Crow Stones is I think the best example.
Following a geological walk gives me a very different experience of the landscape and leads to areas well off the beaten path which often reward with wonderful surprises.
Bamford Edge is often overlooked by both climbers and walkers. I guess that lack of access before CROW in 2000 put it out of peoples mind. There are still restrictions in place and the moor is closed at certain times of year. Outside of those times I would urge people to go and explore one of the Peak District most iconic places. This is the edge that looms above you as you drive along the road from Bamford village to Ladybower. It stands proud, heralding the Dark Peak.
The area is easy to get to from Stanage, Bamford or best of all Heatherdene car park. The route from Heatherdene leads up through a holloway, hundreds of years old which threads its way through an oak woodland even older.
The edge itself is good old Gritstone or Millstone Grit. A sandstone peppered with sharp grains that made it perfect for the Sheffield cutlery industry. The face of the edge shows the continuous build up of sediments brought down in to a delta the outflow of which became the Derwent Valley. Over millions of years the sediments were deposited layer up on layer, then as Britain moved north from the equator and the seas retreated the gritstone was revealed.
Gritstone sits above the coal deposits along with some shales, that pop up now and again around the Peak District. Far down below sits the calcium rich limestone, which is plain to see in the White Peak and is easily visible from Bamford Edge if you look up the Hope Valley. There you will see the giant limestone quarry with half the hillside missing and residing in a thousand patios and pathways across Britain.
Bamford Moor is awash with archaeological interest. Stone circles, cairns, hut circles and more all feature on the moor, if you know what to look for and have the patience. Most is now well hidden in undergrowth but a stone circle towards Stanage is relatively easy to spot, sitting on a slightly elevated earth platform. Near to the circle is the Old Womans Stone, a taller carved piece of gritstone that once stood away from the circle, it now lays on the ground. The cairn field and ancient settlement, thought to be Bronze Age are harder to see and require some detective work and patience.
Lots of historic and archaeological interest stretching from 350 Million years right up to present day and covering Neolithic, Bronze age, Roman and modern day industrial activity can be explored.
It is well worth a visit and can be combined with several superb walks. The views along the valleys and across to the high moorlands of Bleaklow and Kinder are magnificent and eastwards lay the edges of Stanage, Burbage, Frogatt and Curbar.