Dark Peak Walks – Book Launch

Dark Peak Book Launch
Typical Dark Peak weather for the Dark Peak Walks book launch

Lots of people who ordered my book, Dark Peak Walks published by Cicerone Press, from my own blog had suggested a book launch and that they would like to come and collect their book in person.

There was only one place to have the launch of a book about walking in the gritstone and peat area of the Peak District National Park known as the Dark Peak, that was on the gritstone and peat moorland that make up this unique landscape. I chose Whinstone Lee Tor as the venue, easy access, good views, and on both a public footpath and a bridleway, so people could bring their dogs and bikes too.

It was quite humbling to see 25 people brave constant rain,  quite typical Dark Peak weather, to celebrate the book launch. Of course you cannot have a launch without cake, Alison from Wapentac baked flapjack and a very nice Yorkshire Parkin. Plus we had a wonderful surprise where a fan of the book Col Wood of Everyday Adventures had baked a special cake with a picture of the book on it.

As we ate cake, drank coffee, talked and got wet I looked around the gathering. We ranged in age from a few months to the late sixties.

Some had walked, some had run. Some people were new to the area, some were old friends of the Dark Peak. A few local Mountain Rescue teams were represented, Moors For The Future were there, as was the Peak District National Park.

People had travelled from all the major cities and towns that surround the Peak District and that make it one of the most visited national parks in the world. Discoveries were made too. Debra from Moors For The Future had her first sip of Hot Vimto, an old Dark Peak favourite, which proved valuable of that cold rainy day.

I like to make a nice presentation of the book when people purchase it from me, all that wrapping had me singing My Favourite Things from the Sound of Music. Some lucky people who had bought early also had a gift of a Wapenmap too, so as I handed the parcels out I hummed the little tune, some people even sang along with me. Then it was time to cut the cake and eat.

It was a magical day. Everyone said how much they had enjoyed it, lots of laughter and talking about days out in the Dark Peak. It has such a great community of people, who love and care for the area deeply. It is wonderful to play a small part in it.

The most marvellous thing though is how young people are discovering the Dark Peak, exploring its delights and having great adventures. It means the story keeps on developing and that’s what should happen to a landscape.

Young adventurers are discovering the Dark peak
Great to see young explorers like Neve out having adventures in the Dark Peak. Photo by Chris Blake, with permission.

You can purchase a signed copy of the book Dark Peak Walks here

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Dark Peak Walks by Paul Besley

 

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.

Hidden Valley

Towards Whinstone Lee Tor and the Derwent Edge
Towards Whinstone Lee Tor and Bamford Edge

Just off a vehicle track in the DerwentValley is a rotting finger post pointing up a grassy incline that disappears into some trees, if you’re not paying attention as you pass it by then you wouldn’t even notice it, few do, not even National Parks maintenance teams, hence the rotting finger post.

If you do stop and wonder where the finger points to and decide to follow its direction you are in for a real treat for this is one of the valleys hidden secrets, rarely visited by walkers and of course almost never visited by the thousands that park at the visitor centre about a mile away.  So you have the place to yourself, go and enjoy it!

Follow the incline upwards, working your way along a tree lined, and grass covered farm track.  Coming to an old abandoned farm that once formed just one of the many that tended these hillsides through beautiful spring and summer and into horrendous winters when the valley could be cut off from civilisation for months, the track veers left and narrows into an ascending path, enclosed by dry stone walls erected hundreds of years ago.  At the top you come to a farm, which seems odd as there is no way you could get farm machinery up the path, but the farms access lays north of the buildings and unseen by the walker.  As you pass the farm stop awhile and take in the first of the expansive views of the Derwent Edge.  South lays Whinstone Lee Tor, a nob of a hill that sits as a gatekeeper, with Crookhill on the other side of the UpperDerwentValley.  The Tor offers fine views across the valley, with Bleaklow, Kinder and Mam Tor forming the western skyline.  Below you is a solitary barn set in lush green pasture, this is a good place to stand and stare a little, watching the buzzards soaring above the gritstone edge, whilst below, stoats work their way through the stone wall labyrinth.  If you look closely at the fields in front you can detect boundaries and footpaths long gone now save for a depression in the ground and the odd marker tree showing the line.  Centuries old these remnants remind us that man leaves his footprints where ever he goes.

Take the shooting track that heads towards the skyline and works its way round the hillside in front of you, descending in to a seemingly lost valley complete with stream and cloughs. The stream has to be crossed without the aid of a bridge and is no real obstacle.  It is a quiet place, rarely frequented and has the beauty of the rugged Peak District moorland, without the windswept desolation or indeed the destruction caused by man. Having crossed the stream take the feint path left that works its way up through the bracken, in summer this is hard to see and you have to look for a break line in the thick bracken to ascertain its course.  It is a narrow path until near the top where it meets a boulder field and then opens up making the final few meters easy.

You pop out and that is the most descriptive word I think fits the situation, on to a flat seemingly featureless moorland sitting directly below a Gritstone edge, to the right on the horizon is the Salt Cellar a prominent gritstone feature, useful for navigation.  This is where the fun starts for the way forward lies across the bog soaked moor with the attack point being a rectangular walled enclosure marked on the map that hardly exists on the ground.  Take a bearing from where the path brings you on to the flat part of the moorland, this is a highly subjective starting point and good map work is required which means it is the perfect practice area for navigation exercises.  Aim for the centre of one side of the rectangle and calculate the paces needed to reach it, and then start to walk on the bearing.  This is where the funny walk starts as you try to keep on the bearing, keep an even pace for counting and avoid bog, tussock and peat holes.  Soon you will have reached you number of paces meaning you should have reached the wall, but none is to be found.  You stand on a flat ish plain with no wall in sight, looking around you can detect nothing.  Spotting a small rise in the land near to you, you decide to use this as a vantage point to locate the now offending enclosure. None can be seen and it gradually dawns on you that the small rise you are stood on is in a very straight line and seems to extend to right angled corners at each end.  As your eyes follow the rise you realise, a little sheepishly that you are in fact stood on top of the enclosure wall which over the years as now being reclaimed by nature and forms part of the moorland land mass.  There is a mixture of joy at having found it and depression at realising the navigation skills still need some work.

From here the way is easy. Straight up to the edge and on to the top, you can choose to do a little light scrambling to ascend the edge which adds a frisson of adventure.  Once there it is a matter of following your nose, left or right and just enjoying the views.  On a clear blue sky day the views are extensive and magnificent, stretching in to several counties at all points of the compass.

A beautiful little walk best kept a secret.