Stanton Moor on a snowy Sunday

Stanton Moor, the land where nine maidens and a fiddle player still stand on Stanton Moor. They were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday.  Or so the legend of Nine Ladies stone circle goes.
The Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Stanton Moor, snowbound


The Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Stanton Moor

 They are not alone.
The Nine Ladies stone circle is just one of many ancient and historic sites on Stanton Moor where prehistoric people lived and buried their dead over 3,500 years ago.  There are burial mounds, field boundaries, ring cairns, more stone circles and the subtle traces of houses crowd the woodlands and lurk beneath heather.


Hmmmm…..


Moving on.


Starting with my childhood days, I spent many happy hours walking on Stanton Moor, only to continue visiting the moor through my teens, my twenties and later, right up to the present day. I have no doubt, that while I can still get to Stanton Moor and still walk, I will continue to visit and enjoy walking on the moor for many years to come.
 
Stanton Moor has always held a very soft spot in my heart. As a child, I spent many hours there. I enjoyed walking the moors, enjoying the views around, learning about the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, climbing the Cork Stone and many other sights and activities.
I can still recall to this day, my first attempt to climb the Cork Stone, how proud I was, to scramble up that initial hard start, grasping the rungs for dear life, my heart beating ferociously as I grabbed each rung and made sure each footing was secure, until I reached the top and enjoyed not only that sense of achievement, but the views around and below.

I had done it and what was at the top?

A carved out bowl!

Now, I had got up there, I had to get down. My heart still beating ferociously, I gingerly swung my legs, one at a time, over the edge and tentatively found my first footing to start my descent.

I then had to find my second footing, then eventually, be able to grasp the first of the rungs while making progressive footings to descend the Cork Stone and re-join my mother and younger brother, waiting for me on the ground.

I finally made it to the ground, my very first ascent, no, conquering of the Cork Stone at probably around the age of eight or nine years.

Since then, I conquered, well, more like tamed it, many times since then.

Me atop the Cork Stone, some time ago
It wasn’t just the Cork Stone that made Stanton Moor a place of my childhood days, there was the Nine Ladies Stone Circle and Earl Grey Tower among many other features on the moor.

A good few years on and my wife wanted to savour what I enjoyed about Stanton Moor. We had a lovely saunter on a sunny Sunday afternoon, followed by a visit to Bakewell, where we enjoyed a wander around the shops.

Those were the days of the old Bakewell livestock market, which is where the superstore is today.

A few more years later, my son, now almost sixteen, enjoyed his first walk on Stanton Moor, on a sunny Sunday, at the age of four. It was also his first lesson in map reading.
We were able to look around the moor and the surrounding landscape, I unfolded my OS map out on to the heather, orientated the map so that I could point out many of the features on the map and show him what and where they actually were.
It was a good job I knew back then the moor like the back of my hand, probably better than the back of my hand, for when we started to move on for my son to discover more of the moor, he insisted on carrying the map!

“Daddy” said my son

“We can pretend we’re explorers can’t we?”

Not that he really looked at the map after insisting that he held it, but that to me, was a magical moment, a four year old child’s imagination taking charge, with the supervision of me, his happy and proud father.

Things have moved on since those days, my son did become a great walking companion, grasping properly map and compass in later years along with mountain safety.

At the age of seven, he had ascended Snowdon, Tryfan and Glyder Fach, at the age of eleven, Cairn Gorm and Kinder Scout, the Long Mynd and many more.

Enough reminiscing, my son, no longer my walking companion, has found his own niche, kayaking. I’m happy for him, he enjoys it, has become very proficient and very successful in many regional competitions.

Anyway, I’ve digressed more than enough, but I felt a little history outlining why Stanton Moor holds a soft spot in my heart, would explain a few things.

In more recent years, especially since I’ve become more advanced in my walking skills, Stanton Moor has not only been a place for a relaxing stroll, but also a testing ground for new kit and breaking in new items of kit, especially walking boots. My current Scarpa SL’s on their first outing got scuffed on the Cork Stone.

Today was no exception, not just a walk in the snow, which I had been yearning for, but also to try a pair of Snow Trax, which are spikes attached o a stretchy rubber strap to aid grip on snow and ice.

Though the roads were still encrusted with either snow or slush, it was a pleasant two hour drive from home in the West Midlands, drving up through the market town of Ashbourne, past Longcliff and through Birchover on to the road at the western edge of Stanton Moor.
I got suited and booted, put on the Snow Trax, a set of spikes and coiled spring fitted to a stretchy rubber strap which fits under the boot, was quite tight to stretch over my boots, but they went on, only just.
The Snow Trax I was trying out.
I hardly knew they were there, never letting me down, once.
I will make it quite clear, that is no way a criticism, more the fact that I have a broad foot (you really wanted to know that bit of useless info didn’t you) and they do need to be a tight fit to prevent them falling off while you’re walking.

The Snow Trax do have a good stretchy rubber strap that will fit over the boot rand and a rubber strap to clasp the back of the boot, while a strap fits over the top of the boot upper and is secured by velcro to ensure the Snow Trax stay in place.

Soon after this walk, I was so impressed with the added grip provided by the budget priced Snowtrax, I invested in a more robust set of spikes in the form of Microspikes, which I still have to this day.

So I set off along the path on to Stanton Moor, heading towards the Cork Stone. This time, I didn’t try to climb the Cork Stone, mainly because I didn’t want to damage the Gritstone footings on the Cork Stone and I didn’t want fiddle around taking the Snow Trax off and putting them back on.
Entrance to Stanton Moor


The start of the path on to Stanton Moor

The first feature on the path, The Cork Stone
At the Cork Stone, the path either goes straight on, following and easterly route around the southern edge of the moor, or I could take either the northerly or north easterly path.

Its called the Cork Stone, because it is shaped, like a cork!
I took my usual north-easterly path to head for the Trig Point. This path isn’t marked on the map, but is clearly defined as far as the Trig Point. After that, it’s not quite so clear, but will eventually meet up with another path, that is marked on the OS map.
Looking northerly from the Cork Stone, I can see my choice of paths.
It was the one to the right, in a north eserlty direction that I took.
The Tig Point on Stanton Moor
My next point to visit would be the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. I’m not a Druid, hippy or anything of that nature, but I always have to visit the Nine Ladies Stone Circle. It’s more habitual than religious or anything like that.

Approaching the Plantation and the Nine Ladies Stone Circle

The Nine Ladies Stone Circle

The Nine Ladies Stone Circle closer
Nine Ladies is one of four circular monuments on the Moor.  Nine stones are set upright in a low bank to create a circle 11 metres across.  A tenth stone was discovered in 1976.  It had fallen sometime in the past and remains hidden under the turf until the summer’s drought showed where it lay.  Another standing stone, known as the King Stone, is 40 metres southwest of the circle.

Families probably held ceremonies in the circles, perhaps at certain times of the year associated with changing seasons and the farming calendar.  Spring, midsummer and harvest would all have been important.  They may have also celebrated important events in people’s lives, such as births, marriages and deaths.

Who were the Nine Maidens and their King?

As with stone circles, the Nine Ladies, the stories and names came from folklore.  The standing stones of the circle are the women and the King Stone is the fiddler.  We don’t know when the name was first used, except that it was probably sometime after the arrival of Christianity.  Dancing on Sundays during church services was punishable by excommunication from at least the 1500s, if not earlier.  During the medieval period the Church linked many stone circles to devil worship as a way to wean people away from paganism.  Follow the footsteps of our ancestors with a short 2 mile walk and explore the diverse ways in which the stone beneath us, has and continues to shape the diverse landscapes on Stanton Moor.

After spending a few moments at the stone circle, a megalith, I then set off in a south easterly direction to Earl Grey Tower, crossing the style to get close to the tower.


Walking to Earl Grey Tower


Earl Grey Tower, sometimes called The Reform Tower
Earl Grey Tower, or the Reform Tower as it is sometimes called, Earl Grey Tower, which was built by William Pole Thornhill in 1832, with the purpose of dedicating it to the Reform Act of 1832.

From Earl Grey Tower, staying the tower side of the fence, I then continued through the wooded area in a sou-sou easterly direction, circumnavigating the edge of the moor to visit the Cat Stone.

The Cat Stone, is a stone smaller than the Cork Stone, has footings so you can climb it. I would like to warn you, you are close to the edge of the moor and also quite a steep drop off down to the valley below and the hamlet of Beeley.

The Cat Stone
Moving on still circumnavigating the edge of the moor and the clearly defined path, hand railing the fence, you walk past one of the many quarries on and around Stanton Moor. This particular one, has a warning that there is a deep quarry close by.

.... "walk past one of the many quarries on and around Stanton Moor.
This particular one, has a warning that there is a deep quarry close by"

A close up of the sing, in the centre of the above photo.
But be warned, ALL the quarries on and around Stanton Moor are deep with very steep sheer drops!

Continuing along the path circumnavigating the edge of the moor, you arrive at Gorse Stone Rock, a single rock feature standing out on its own at the southern edge of the moor.

Gorse Stone Rock
The wind wasn't too bad

But the wind chill was cold!
Returning to the path and the fence that hand rails the path, you will be close to a style, which you can cross to bring you back on to the moor. At this point, you are not far from the Cork Stone, which is where I headed towards so I can take the other path that goes in a nor-nor east direction.

This path takes you past some more quarries on the moor, but this time, there are no warnings of steep drops.
"On the walk to these quarries, we pass close to the Trig Point...."
On the walk to these quarries, we pass close to the Trig Point, almost walking in parallel to the path we started out on earlier.

You can walk down in to these quarries, but please, exercise extreme care for it is too easy to find yourself unexpectedly at a steep sheer drop.

Looking down in to one of the quarries

"You can walk down in to these quarries, but please, exercise extreme care ...."

Yes, that's me.
Continuing along the path towards Stanton Moor Plantation, you can walk round past the television transmitter and back on to the road that runs between Birchover and Stanton in the Peak, or you can head in an easterly direction back towards the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, passing the King Stone.

After a brief stop for a chat with some walkers on the moor at the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, I continued to the eastern side of the stone circle, and then took the path that heads off in a south westerly direction, back towards the Cork Stone.

As you walk down this clearly defined path, it initially appears that all your walking past is just plain moorland.



The Enclosure
However, what seems plain moorland actually tells a lot from a historical perspective, very quietly and very quaintly.

There are numerous cairns and tumuli close to and along this path, some are very clearly defined, others, you can almost make out their existence.

The return path back to the Cork Stone
So while you’re walking along this path, keep your eyes peeled and observe these features, some of which are marked on the OS map.

Eventually I arrive at a cross roads where I will take the right turn and head back towards the Cork Stone, then the path back towards the road and back to the car.

The path from the Cork Stone back to the car

Stanton Moor doesn’t cover a large area and many treat it similar to a stroll in the park. However, it is relatively high up and exposed, it’s a moor and can suffer the conditions that any high and exposed area is subjected to. So my advice is treat it with the respect that you would treat any area of a similar nature, no matter how large or small an area it covers.
Stanton Moor has quite a lot of history attached to it, along with a lot of the surrounding territory at lower levels.

Not only are the historical, but they offer navigational points to check where you are.



Map of Stanton Moor
Look for the tumuli and other historic features.
They make great navigational points
There are many megaliths, burial areas, cairns, tumulus and stone circles which can be visited nearby. If you are interested in visiting some of these megalith portals around the Peak District, you might like to take a look at www.megalithic.co.uk There you will see where many of these portals are.

While I'm thinking about it, the Snow Trax never let me down. They never felt uncomfortable at any time, neither did I loos my footing,

First impressions, are positive and I look forward to using them again, for walking in the snow with.

However, they are not designed for mountain or hill climbing where you would use crampons. That is specialist territory for those with the proper training.
Finally, happy rambling and thank you for reading,

Peak Rambler

6 comments:

  1. I open my bedroom window every morning and as I look out to the right I can see Stanton Moor on the horizon. It's probably the most easily accessible area of moorland that's nearest to me and we often nip up there for an hour and half or so. It was interesting to read your piece about it ...

    I wrote to the National Trust a few years ago and asked why they didn't open up the tower. What brilliant views you'd have from there ... but alas they don't own it. It's just outside their strip of land.

    Are you aware of the recently dedicated footpath leaving the road at SK252636 ? It skirts the bottom of a quarry, passing an old stone building before bending round to the right where it forks. Keep right and the path climbs steadily to take you past another quarry on your left [where you can see the carved initials of some of the quarrymen]. It then brings you to the path leading onto the moor from the lane at g.r. SK251639.

    If you didn't keep right [and forked left] there's a path that runs through the National Trust property bringing you out on the southern end of Stanton Moor. This 'National Trust' path runs parallel to the public footpath on the eastern side of the moor but at a lower level. It does get rather overgown with ferns and bracken in summer though !

    You may already know of these paths but I thought I'd mention them just in case.

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    1. That sounds like a view I long for, not the urban sprawl I have to view.

      I recall camping at Monsal Head and seeing Stanton Moor on the horizon, it was a lovely view.

      I beleive there was a time when the public could go up in to Earl Grey Tower, owned by Stanton Estates, to view the vista around.

      I am aware of the footpath and quarry you mention and appreciate your mention of them.

      Though it is some years since I last walked along the path and by that quarry.

      I was very distrort the last time I walked along the path, to see the quarry appearing like it was in the early stages of a landfill.

      My son, when he was four, took us down that path, a path I'd walked down many times previously, and it was very clear of rubbish in those days.

      It was some years later when it looked like a landfill and that put me off walking around that part of the moor ever since.

      However, I was reliably informed by a couple from Birchove, the moor is a lot tidier.

      We had a very good chat about the moors status around the time I noticed the increase in rubbish and events going on at the time, one of which you will recall is the fight to stop the quarry extension, which lasted a good few years.

      I will have to return to the moor and venture along that path and quarry some day.

      Though I currently tend to plan my walks within the last 24 hours, mainly due to the weather, I often tweet up if I'm out and about, and where. You would have been more than welcome to have joined me.

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  2. It looks magnificent in the snow, doesn't it? Last time I was there I was with James and he seemed to think I was going to climb the Cork Stone for a photo opportunity - I declined...

    I rather like stone circles. They're the sort of places where I'll take some photos and then half expect something weird to show up on the picture afterwards - something that just wasn't there when you took it. Never actually had anything like that happen though!

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    1. It all looks fabulous in the snow, sun, rain and even the cloud....

      I have to confess, anything like stone circles, cairns, burial mounds and other megaliths, they all hold a fascination over me. The fascination has been further enhanced since I undertook advanced navigation training, using them as navigation points, day or night.

      I’m looking at a route to include Arbor Low Stone Circle, one day.

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    2. I did go to Arbor Low once and I have to confess I didn't feel as though it had as much atmosphere as some other spots. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood.

      Hoping to go and see the Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon burial place in Suffolk at February half-term. I'm sure it'll be interesting, although the atmosphere may not be what I expect there either, since it's kind of commercialised with a visitor centre now. Have you been there?

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    3. I've heard a lot about Sutton Hoo, I would love to go one day.

      I'll look forward to the blog on that one.

      Arbor Low and a compass that effectively froze! I'll have to tell you a story about that on the Winter Meet.

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