Grouse Water Bowls

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Grouse Water Bowl No.8 on Stanage Edge

I had a wonderful walk recently up onto gritstone edges then home across moorland, no more than 8 miles with less than 200m of ascent over the whole route, this gentle saunter gave me time to appreciate a unique aspect of this particular landscape.

Alison dropped me at Moscar on a Snake road cloaked in low cloud so that I could get easy access onto Stanage Edge. This is the easiest way in, with little ascent and a good view across the Moscar moor to Derwent Edge and Win Hill to keep the eyes occupied. I got on to the Edge by the old quarry, passing the boundary stones marking Mr Wilson and Mr Mappin land ownership. Didn’t they trust each other I wondered, Stanage Edge is a pretty obvious boundary line surely.

By the old quarry are some fine grouse water bowls, carved by George Broomhead, no relation of the Wilsons of Broomhead Hall, who are no relations of the Wilsons of Moscar Moor who didn’t have a hall but did have and to my knowledge still have a snuff mill in Sheffield. Wilson, the snuff one, had young George carve out great long lines of these bowls to, it is said, provide water for the parched grouse that were the moors only inhabitant. They say there are 108 of them, how long it took I don’t know. These are little works of art in a way. Beautiful bowls of all shapes and sizes carved into the gritstone boulders of Stanage Edge and the moor beyond. Each bowl has one or more runnels, exquisitely chased into the stone to channel water into the small reservoirs. The skill to produce these flat-bottomed ‘Vees’ and the lozenge-shaped bowls is evident to see. What is not so apparent is the choice of boulder and the position of the bowl. George Broomhead must have watched during downpours to see which would be most efficient at collecting the water, for these are not like the dewponds of the White Peak, these rely on rain water. And then have worked out the best position and shape of the collecting bowl and where to position the feeder runnels.

Each bowl is numbered, although these are not consecutive so I suspect the whole were not completed in one go, but in stages as the moor was developed for grouse. As yet I have not found one that bears Georges name or initials or that of his employer, but I live in hope.  Many of the ones away from the edge are overgrown with heather and moss, making it difficult to locate them, which all adds to the day out, a bit of detective work and a frisson of excitement at a find. I have spent a good few hours in such activity and as a consequence have covered the moor more deeply than I would normally, which has brought other delights too.

 

A 16th century perambulation

 

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The CP96 boundary rock at Broadrake, near High Neb on Stanage Edge

The other day I came across a rock on Stanage Edge and carved into the rock were the letters CP and the numbers 96. It looked quite old and got me to thinking what it all meant. Bill from the Peak District National Park, who knows more about this area than anyone I guess, provided a map from 1723 showing the rock and carvings marked on it, suggesting it marked a Civil and Parish Boundary. So I did a little digging in the bowels of various archives and came up with a perambulation, which is a legal walk to maintain the boundary of land.

 Extract from a perambulation made in 1574

A Boundarie, or brief notes, of all the Meares and Bounds of Hallamshire between Whytley Wood and a place called Waynstones, namely between the Lord’s lands pf Hallamshire and the Lords of Ecclesale and Hathersage, beeinge overviewed and seene the sixt day of August Anno Dei one thousand fyve hundreth and seaventy and fower, by these men whose names are here underwritten:

 “Viz. Anthony BLYTHE of Birchett, gent., James TURNER, Bealife of Sheffeld, William DICKINSON, William UPTON, Thurstone KIRKE, William HARRISE, George SKARGELL, Adam GILL, Ralphe MORTON, Gregorie REVELL …

 On the 6th August 1574 9 men walked along the boundary of the Lordships of Hallamshire and that of Ecclesale and Hathersedge to check the boundary markers and defining the dividing line of their masters lands.

Meares (meares, old English earlier than 900AD, possibly from the Norse mæri, which would fit with the area being a Wapentac, meaning boundary between two lands).

A perambulation was a requirement in traditional English Law and means Walking Around. Specifically, walking around the boundaries of a parish or legal area, to maintain its legal status and ownership.

The walk started at Whitely Woods and worked its way across Ringinglow before starting its traverse of Stanage Edge from Burbage Head, which today could possibly be Upper Burbage Bridge.

 

[Burbage Head. Item, the said Sicke or Ditch leading or goeing from Ringinge Lawe to a place called Burbage Head which is a Meere between my Lord of Hallamshire and the heirs of Padley and the lord of Hathersage.]

Could the way today be from Ringinglow at the Toll House, joining Houndkirk and following that, to what is today the footpath that leads over to the Packhorse Bridge crossing Burbage Brook. The Brook being the “Sicke or Ditch” leading to Burbage Head. Certainly it would be a natural division of the land between two owners. But then why not just walk along the top of Burbage Rocks and not descend into the valley at all.

[Hurklinge Edge. Item, from the said Burbage Head to a certain place called Hurklinge Edge, being a mere between Hallamshire and the Lordship of Hathersage.]

There is no Hurklinge Edge in this area on any maps going back to 1852. This could be an erroneous naming of the place or it may well have changed. From the description it would seem a possible route would be from Upper Burbage Bridge up onto the moor and follow Friars Ridge across to what today is Stanedge Pole. Friars Ridge today is a Metropolitan Boundary between Yorkshire and Derbyshire, it is also a natural watershed and leads from the east to Stanedge Pole and the Long Causeway.

 [Stannedge. Item, from the said Hurklinge Edge as forwards after the Rocke to Stannage which is a mere between the said Lordshipps.]

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The Surveyors date 1697 clearly visible on the Rocke at Stanedge on the Long Causeway

From Friars Edge to the Rocke is this the present day Stanedge Pole. There are certainly large rocks there and it would have been a well-known marker. The rocks have many surveyor markings carved into their surface included one dated 1697 which may be useful in dating the next boundary rock. In the 1852 survey it was marked on the map as Rock. By 1880 the surveyors were calling it Stanage Pole.

The Parliamentary and Municipal Boundaries run right through it, and if they followed the boundary of Hallamshire and Ecclesale, then marking the boundaries would have necessitated visiting this spot. Their route then progressed on to Stannedge. Probably following the Long Causeway to where it starts its descent to Hathersage the route eventually meeting what we now know today as Stanage Edge.

 [Broad Rake. Item, from Stannedge, after the said Rocke to a place called the Broad Rake, which is also a meere betweene the said Lordships of Hallamshire and Hathersedge.]

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The 1723 map clearly showing the CP96 rock at Broadrake

From where the Long Causeway descends they would have followed the edge along until they came to the second “Rock” which has a simple carving of “CP96”. A recent map sent to me dated 1723 shows the rock and the carving along with the name Broadrake, so it predates that. There is a date carved into the Stanedge Pole rock of 1697 so the second boundary rock predates that it may well be 1696 or even 1596 as this walk took place in 1574. The rock sits inland from the edge path but quite close to it so would have been a prominent marker. Is the “CP” Civil Parish or is it County Parliamentary?

 [Seaven Stones. Item, from the Broad Rake streight downward to a place where certain stones are sett upon the ends haveinge marks in them called Seaven Stones, which old and ancient men said that the same is a meere betweene my Lord and the Lord of Hathersedge.]

Are the “Seaven Stones” the stone circle on Bamford Moor. There are seven standing stones, maybe more depending on how you define a standing stone. There is no mention of the Old Womans Stone so either I have the wrong route or the Menhir was not standing at that time. There is a Civil Parish boundary running close by on todays maps.

Or are the “Seaven Stones” the stone circle on Moscar Moor? But these have 9 stones or 10 depending on how you count.

[Waynstones. Item, from the said Seaven Stones streight over the Brooke or Sicke there to a place called the Waynstones, being distant by estimacion three quarters of a myle.]

The next and final legs of the route present a problem. What and where are “Waynstones”. The brook could be the one by the standing stone on Bamford Edge, Upper Hurst Brook, and it does follow a boundary line, but where is Waynstones . Is it where the quarry now exists on the end of Bamford Edge, the next leg also talks of going straight over the edge so perhaps this is the place.

The other option is Ladybower Brook from the Stone Circle on Moscar Moor and “Waynstones” is Whinstone Lee Tor. The only difficulty with this is the distance which is more than ¾ of a mile, but it does still follow the County and Parliamentary boundary on the 1891 map, which leads up from Cutthroat Bridge. Interestingly there is a Hurkling Stones near by, could this be the same as mentioned earlier in the route and they have just forgotten where it was.

[North Waynstones. Item, from the said Waynstones streight over the Edge to a place, or certain stone, called the North Waynstones.]

Finally where is North Waynstones which is reached by going straight over the edge to a place or certain stone called North Waynstones. Is this Wheel Stones and “streight over the edge” means straight along the edge. That would fit.

It would be interesting how the walk fits in todays landscape and mapping.

The Grand Hotel

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Mixed weather last week meant walking in sunshine or low cloud if you picked your days right. I picked both, sun along the Chew Valley edges and low cloud along Stanage Edge. I could have done with sun on Stanage but who am I to argue.

I like Stanage Edge especially the Plantation and the Popular End. Lots going on with climbers on any day and at any time crawling all over the set menu. Climbers always seem to have that little bit extra fun over walkers, as though they have unlocked the secret of the land whereas walkers are merely bystanders looking on wistfully. The verticality of a climbers walk is the thing I guess. It just requires a bit more skill than walking, even though it’s still one foot in front of the other, and you have to use your hands, which you don’t have to in walking. Climbers go where walkers cannot and that makes them a little more special. Of course once you have climbed to the top, especially on Stanage, then all you can do is going back down and climb up again, sort of Groundhog Day repetition, with walking the scenery keeps moving past you on a conveyor bringing you new delights all the way through.

I invariably stop off at Robin Hoods Cave as I work my way across the edge. I am still amazed people do not know about this place. It’s on the map. Dropping down from the path and working across to that great slab still brings excitement, particularly on a day with good weather, dark clouds or bright, it’s all good. Always a relief to get inside and find no one has used it as a toilet, there is usually the odd can or two to clear up before settling down with a brew and gaze out of that window. It really is magical. Read enough climbing history and you can place the people at the side of you, have a meeting if you like, discuss the finer points of how to name a route, Christmas Crack is still my favourite here, but best of all time has to be Ed Drummonds, A Dream of White Horses. (Between the sea and sky, a white sheet. Ed Drummond). But that’s in Wales by the sea, which Stanage definitely is not these days.

They called it The Grand Hotel in the 60’s, all those names that became icons. It’s a good and fitting name. Smacks of sticking a finger up to the establishment whilst at the same time accurately describing the lodgings for a nights bivvy. Its a shame the sun doesn’t rise through the balcony, you have to be content with seeing the valley reveal itself in the dawn. Worse ways to wake up of course. It has a sandy floor which comes as a surprise and with the balcony has the effect of being on a beach looking out to see over a sandcastle wall. On the walls if you look carefully you can see the calling cards  of many who have booked bed and breakfast here over the years, climbers, perhaps lovers even, achieving ecstasy in the moonlight, with a view.

Ordnance Survey Benchmarks

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Benchmark at Moscar SK 2305 8759

This is a levelling benchmark placed and used by Ordnance Survey. Its location is SK 2305 8759 at Moscar on the footpath from the A57 towards Stanage. The mark was made in 1961, is of the third order of surveying and is 600mm above ground level. Its datum is Newlyn. Originally the mark and boulder were on the west of the footpath but time and boots have now placed it east of the path.

There are some 500,000 benchmarks on the UK mainland, most no longer in use. They identify the height at a given point. The base line is the tidal measuring station at Newlyn in Cornwall, that is the point where all height measurements are taken from, including the 190 Fundamental Benchmarks which were the first order and therefore the most accurate, set in chambers deep underground on bedrock , these benchmarks are still in use today by the Global Positioning System for calculating the accuracy of the height calculation.

SK 24532 94653 Broomhead Moor Fundemental Benchmark TP0526 Chamber
SK 24532 94653 Broomhead Moor Fundamental Benchmark TP0526 Chamber

 

Trigpoint Walks 3

SK 2802 3813 Ox Stones Trigpoint 420m TP 5267
SK 2802 3813 Ox Stones Trigpoint 420m TP 5267

I knew I had made a mistake as soon as I set foot on to the snow, it was blindingly obvious that I had the wrong boots on.  The thing is we haven’t had that much snow in the Peak District this winter and so I was totally unprepared.  My Altberg boots, superb as they are, are summer boots, flexible and with a slightly more than worn sole.  No match for snow, slush and tussocky grass hiding deep holes in the peat bog. What I needed was four season walking boots, with a firmer sole, good grip and high thick ankle cuffs.  Just like the Scarpa SL Active boots that were sat at home on a shelf warming themselves in the central heating.  These boots heavier and with thicker soles would have come in handy later in the day as well but for reasons so left field no marketing man would ever think it up.

So Thursday 12th February was definitely a day not to be out doing long walks along grit-stone edges, which was exactly where I would be heading, cunningly timing my arrival for the start of the gale force winds.

The first trig, Ox Stones, shown above was some way away from my start point, across a peat moorland covered in a nice blanket of snow.  My route would take me off track and across open moorland.  Ever walked across moorland and heather that is covered in snow.  Gets the thighs burning I can tell you, a pair of stiff ankled boots is also an advantage to protect you from those ankle breaking sink holes that appear in the peat.  Once clearing the moorland I hit a track and my first sign of other mad people walking in the hail that now peppered my face.

As I drew alongside the lady who was trailing the man I announced my arrival with a strong “Good Morning”.  It was good to see her suddenly galvanised into movement, jumping so high from a crouching position, head bent in to the wind was very impressive.  “Jesus Christ.  You made me jump out of my skin.  Someone did that to me yesterday as well.”  I laughed, saying that I was sorry, but I have to admit I did find the whole episode amusing, and worthwhile.

Ox Stone trig sits just of the Houndkirk Track.  Its quite a nice trig on open moorland with interesting grit stone rock formations nearby.  After taking the pictures I headed off back along the Houndkirk.  The weather was starting to pick up and I could see some nasty clouds taking up a battle formation over towards the west.

SK 2899 81251 Blacka Plantation Trigpoint 259m TP 1435
SK 2899 8125 Blacka Plantation Trigpoint 259m TP 1435

The second trig pillar wasn’t that far away, but was a pig to get too.  I chose to eschew using a road as the direct route and wove my way through a broad leaved plantation full of tracks and undergrowth and mud. Lovely. This trig sits on private land.  There is a sign guarding the land informing anyone that the land is private and there is no entry.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, the sign was in French. Why? Who knows but I suspect  pretentious prats may have something to do with it.  Anyway I cannot read French, hated the subject at school, so I didn’t know what it said, therefore I scrambled over the gate and made my way to the trig.  It was really hammering it down now so I didn’t hang about with the photos.

I was in need of some lunch after all that slogging through woods and sapping across private land, so I chose the quick route out which was a public road.  As I headed up a small river which used to be a footpath across the moorland for the horizon and Burbage Edge a hole appeared in the sky.  It was coloured blue and had a watery yellow sun beaming down warmth and goodwill, right where I chose to have lunch.

Alison, my wife, you can see her work here it may be of interest, bought me a dinky little Thermos soup flask for Christmas. I have been filling it with hot water and then adding cup o soup type noodles.  Today I had some Batchelors packets.  Sadly they were rubbish.  Tasteless, lacking nourishment and lacking enjoyment.  One of the things I have learned when on a hard walk, is to have something nice to look forward too for lunch, something that keeps me going in wind, rain, sleet and snow. Next time I will try a Heinz Big Soup with chunks of bread.

By the time I got to Burbage Edge, the wind was really starting to gust strongly.  So fierce was it, that water from the river below was blowing up the crag and over the top, just like Kinder Downfall.  By the time I got to the western end there was significant buffeting.  People were stopping their cars by the roadside and taking photos of the spray and no doubt the idiot stumbling through it.  By the time I reached the final trig at Stanage Edge the wind was so strong I had difficulty standing, hence the blurry picture.

SK 2509 8301 Stanage Edge 457m Trigpoint TP 6150
SK 2509 8301 Stanage Edge 457m Trigpoint TP 6150

At one point I was knocked down by the force of the gusts as they raced over the top of the edge.  Some youths appeared and started to surf the buffeting wind, arms out stretched, squeals of delight coming from them.  I wish I could have done that but age has crept up on me and I chickened out.  Bidding them safe fun I set off along the edge only to see my hat fly off into oblivion, followed immediately after by myself.  Safety is the better part of valour I decided, as I once again hit the deck.  I moved away from the edge path and headed across a moorland depression.  Big mistake and one to learn from.  Moorland depressions contain boggy ground, especially if marked blue on the map.  Add to that a months worth of rain and it becomes an energy sapping soul destroying boot clawing quagmire that no one should enter.  In future I shall study the map before jumping at the nearest supposed escape route.

So there you go.  It was grim, cold, wet, exhausting and once it was over I had had the hardest walk I have had in many a month.  I am so glad I continued and did not give in.  It was bloody marvellous.

The Long Causeway on Stanage

Wild Ash trees in Bole Hill Quarry
Wild Ash trees in Bole Hill Quarry

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.   

Maybe that’s how it should be.

Rud Hill Moor

The other day I sought a few hours solitude out on the moors near to where I live. Within 20 minutes I was setting off on the faint track that leads up on to Rud Hill, a place few people will know of but many have walked across and passed by on their way up to Stanage Pole and the edge.

The last few weeks have seen even more rain fall on already sodden ground and this was very much in evidence on the moor. Surface water lay in great pools across the peaty landscape. Much of the moorland grass bordering the track had been worn away by countless boots in an attempt to avoid the peat bogs that had developed as a result of the moor being unable to absorb anymore rain. In places the ground was so sodden it was near impossible to avoid being sucked down in to the peat and in fact on two occasions I experienced just that. The second was more comical and a little bruising to the ego as I sank up to my thighs into the bog and could only release myself by laying myself face forward across the bog and pulling myself out. The sight of a 50 year old man floundering on the moorland surface would have been a joy to watch, fortunately there were no spectators around to appreciate the spectacle.

I wanted to find a small pool marked on the OS map, just as an exercise in navigating by contours. Unfortunately this proved a fruitless endeavour, not because the pool could not be found, that wasn’t the problem. The difficulty lay in the number of pools around the location, there were at least a dozen, all formed by recent rains and all of some depth. I eventually chose a pool that both matched the co-ordinates and had signs of being established for some considerable time, it having a depth that was deeper than others and signs of lichen and moss growing around the edges.

As I was searching for the pool the cloud came in and enveloped me without my realising it was happening and I found myself on a moor with limited visibility and a worsening aspect all round. No need for compass, navigation was simple by following the track, but it did make me realise it would not be difficult to become disoriented in such conditions even on a moor within sight of Sheffield and only a few hundred meters from a roadway. Checking my map for directions I realised the fence shown on the OS map was not the same length as the one on the ground. The real fence had been extended recently and the new shiny wire was a clear indicator of this. Another reason why navigation by contour and not just features is a good idea.

I eventually worked my way back to the car which was sat in clear skies, just a few hundred meters from the cloud covered moorland. Covered in peat I must have looked quite a spectacle to the dog walkers.