This is not intended as a walk guide
It was the last day of February when Nellie and I set off for a walk along Stanage Edge, long before a blast of cold from the east brought heavy snow fall that for a couple of days had a lot of us confined to home in a chilly lockdown.
On that particular day the weather was damp and mizzerly. I parked up early in the morning as the only car in the little car park on a corner near Dennis Knoll. We set off along the newly resurfaced Long Causeway leading up to the rim of Stanage Edge where we turned left to follow a path along the cliff top. For almost two miles Nellie and I were totally alone and at one with the elements. It was exhilarating, an exciting ‘top of the world’ kind of walk offering stunning views in every direction.
After an unseasonably dry February, almost devoid of rain, any boggy bits of path were easily skippable. Part way along we came across a 3-sided hut like a bus shelter tucked away on these remote moors, where for a while we sat out a bank of heavy drizzle.
We are at the start of the bird nesting season and I was thrilled to see a pair of courting grouse only a few yards away from us. The dapper looking male black grouse was strutting around, showing off to an underdressed and drab little greyhen female. That magical moment was one of several I was to see or hear of grouse on the walk.
As we walked along I noticed several bowls hewn into the gritstone, each identified by a number. These were carved sometime in the early 20th century and are known as grouse drinks. They catch rainwater, but in dry weather would have been topped up by gamekeepers who had to carry water up onto the moors.
The highest point of Stanage Edge, known as High Neb and topped by a trig point, is where a point on the county border between Derbyshire and South Yorkshire is located.
At Stanage End, Nellie and I doubled back to walk under the Edge, wending our way through tumbled down rocks and boulders. Last year’s bracken was damped down, slowly turning into mulch. Soon however new shoots will uncurl and climb skywards at an incredibly fast rate to cover patches of Moscar Moors in dense foliage, whilst vast swathes of heather will turn from frizzled up dark shadows to a purple sea in some six months’ time.
Chinks of blue sky were now emerging from behind grey clouds and fellow walkers were also beginning to appear. Now we had to share the moors with others.
Stanage Edge is one of the most popular areas for rock climbers and those going bouldering. The names given to some of the climbs are most interesting including – Dover’s Wall, Verandah Buttress, Heaven Crack, Mississippi Buttress and Twin Chimneys Buttress. However, The Vice, Surgeons Saunter and Terrazza Crack are said to be the best.
We came across a jumble of discarded millstones, quarried long ago but abandoned. With the escarpment behind as an impressive backdrop, this must be one of the most photographed sites in the whole of the Peak District. I’ve seen it numerous times in books, calendars and on postcards.
The coarse grained sandstone of Stanage Edge is called millstone grit. Millstones quarried here were used to grinding grain in mills for some 2000 years and were exported as far as Northern Europe. However, their demand fell when the use of iron rollers for milling became more popular.
The end of our walk was to descend a wonderful springy turf path back to the Long Causeway followed by a short stretch of retracing our steps to the car park which had by then filled up.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE:
It’s been an exciting time since last issue. Lots of deep snow dumped on our village. Schools were closed and village folk couldn’t get to work so some of them went sledging in the pub fields. Me and mum went to watch but she wouldn’t’ let me have a go in case I got too excited and jumped all over everybody. For a time the snow was so deep in parts that it was very hard for us to walk. There were fabulous drifts like waves against walls and I had great fun surfing around. Thankfully I don’t struggle like some of my longer haired canine buddies who get snow balls attached to their legs and tummies. Some even get icicles dangling from their beards and tufty bits. However, being short haired with a coat like shiny velvet, snow doesn’t seem to stick to me and I can run and play and romp around like crazy. Just call me non-stick Nellie! xx