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

Peak District Millstone

P1030860_1024_2These Millstones lay near the Bole Hill quarry. I have always liked the way they were stacked either for storage or for collection I could not tell. Their uniformity suggests a common purpose and that whatever they fitted into was possibly ubiquitous.

Peak District gritstone from which these stones were hewn is perfect for milling, well up to a point. Its big advantages are ease of working, an abundance of raw material, and importantly for the people who used them the stone is self dressing. Dressing a stone means bringing the working edge back to a single plane with no grooves or hollows. This can be done manually with a chisel, but is laboriuos, time consuming and expensive as the wheel is out of production.

Peak gritstone is made up of sandstone sediments interspersed with grains of quartz which is harder. Its is the quartz that does the grinding, but as this wears more gritstone is exposed to the grinding process. This wears down the gritstone exposing more quartz with clean fresh sharp edges, improving the grinding process. This all happens naturally and continuously, which is why they were so in demand.

Most millstones in the Peak were for grain milling with, a few areas provided grindstones for cutlery and blade sharpening. The stones required for the cutlery trade required finer grain structure to prevent kicks in the grinding process. This type of gritstone was sourced further afield from the quarries around Rotherham.

Fashion played a large part in the millstones being left, as though abandoned along the gritstone edges of the Peak. Around 1850 the fashion for white bread started to pick up pace. It was a social statement, if you could afford to eat finely refined white bread, you must be rich, brown bread was for poor people. The only problem for the increase in demand was the millstones. Peak District millstone resulted in grey bread, not appetising. The solution was to bring in French millstones which did not turn the flour grey. Almost overnight, demand for Peak millstones ceased and the unsold stock was just left where it sat, sometimes unfinished, sometimes hardly started.