The Peak District’s proximity to the industrial cities brought many of the great steel masters to the area. Charles Cammell of Cammell Laird, armour-plate manufacturers lived at Brookfield Manor in Hathersage and is buried in the churchyard there. Joseph Whitworth of screw thread fame lived at Darley Dale and is buried in the churchyard of St Helen’s.
One of the major steel makers in Sheffield was the company of Thomas Firth, a major armaments manufacturer and the supplier of high-grade steel to Samuel Colt in Connecticut USA, for his gun barrels. Thomas firth and his son Mark are buried in Sheffield, but other offspring reside in the churchyard of St Peter’s in Hope, their twin graves facing the city of Sheffield.
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.
I took a walk along Stanage Edge the other day. A friend, Mark Richards and I set off from Grindleford station, bypassing the bacon butties and pints of tea and climbed up the old rail incline to reach Bolehill quarry. It’s a strange looking place as you view the quarry through the vertical blinds of wild ash trees that have colonised the area since working ceased. It makes for wonderful views and eerie monochromatic photography art galleries in London would probably pay handsomely for.Light showers had put paid to most climbers attempts on the quarry face, but there were a couple working their way up towards the top. On fine weekends it is just like a school yard, with lots of people milling around, climbing, trying new techniques, taking instruction, a hive of activity that is nice to sit and watch.
We moved on past the abandoned millstones, these always make me wonder if the people who ordered them are still waiting for delivery, and crossed over to skirt the bottom if Millstone edge before claiming the top and a fine view down the Hope Valley, with the ribbon of the Sheffield to Manchester Rail line taking the eye on to Mam Tor and Kinder. Another group of kids tried some bouldering on Owler Tor and as we passed them I pointed out a superb bivvy spot for future reference. I know that wild camping and bivvying is illegal in England and Wales, but if it leaves no trace then I cannot see the harm. I accept there are those who trash a place, there will always be thus, but the vast majority of people do it so that they can enjoy the seclusion and majesty of a night spent out on the hills and a welcoming sunrise to enjoy.
The rain had stopped by the time we reached Stanage, a few people were around, none climbing so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It’s a wonderful edge walk, with fine views down the Hope Valley, and across to Kinder. Descending The Long Causeway we could see recent damage caused by motorised vehicles, I guess 4×4 or trail bikes or maybe a granny in a Toyota Yaris!! Huge great gouges in what is left of the surface with clear scraping marks on the rocks. This is not responsible use of a green way, how can this destruction be seen as right. Then again on Stanage we had walked across man made stone pathways placed there to alleviate the erosion caused by thousands of pairs of feet, so what’s the difference between tyre and boot?? Been up Black Hill lately of Torside Clough and seen what happens and what needs to be done to arrest erosion caused by our own need to demonstrate our legal right by walking where we want when we want and never mind the consequences. A few days after our walk along the ancient pack-horse route a decision by the Peak District National Park was taken to close the route to all motorised vehicles. The blue touch paper has been lit, it now remains to be seen how quickly the rocket goes off.
We dropped down into Hathersage, narrowly missing tea at the café in Outside and caught the train back to Grindleford to pick up the car. It was a nice days walk and a good way to explore the grit-stone corridor that abounds the rail line. Leaving the car at Grindleford and returning by rail meant we could allow our route to unfold, taking direction as the will took us, with no worry about how to get back to our vehicles.
Odd isn’t it that we used public transport to access wonderful countryside whilst at the very same time vehicular access was being removed to protect a ancient way.