On our walk yesterday on Derwent Edge we were lucky enough to see Ring Ouzels. These rare birds spend the winter in the Mediterranean and North Africa, then migrate to the UK in the spring where they nest among craggy outcrops of rocks and among heather between April and July. The gritstone crags of the Dark Peak are ideal nesting habitats. Their numbers have rapidly declined over the last 50 years and it is believed that now only around 6,000 – 7,000 breeding pairs come to the UK.
They look similar to blackbirds but are slightly smaller and have a white ring around their necks.
Over the last few years several customers have booked a personal walking guide with us in the Peak District with the request that they wanted to be taken to Keira Knightley’s Rock so that they can have their photograph taken standing on it. What they are referring to of course is a particular rock on Stanage Edge on the eastern side of the Dark Peak where actress Keira Knightley stood in an iconic shot in the 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice when she took the leading role playing Elizabeth Bennett.
This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago one one of our guided walks with a family who were keen to see the famous rock.
Yesterday our half day guided walk passed along Burbage Edge – one of the high gritstone edges that the Dark Peak area is famous for. The views are stunning and it is a great walk, but years ago it was once the site of several small quarries producing millstones and occasionally other stone objects such as drinking troughs.
This magnificent trough can be found on the path that leads down from Burbage Edge towards the A6187. Due to its size I can quite easily imagine that it might have been destined to be a horse drinking trough at a coaching inn, or maybe in a town centre. It is quite easy to see why it was abandoned before the stone masons had finished it, as there is a massive crack right across it.
It is interesting as being unfinished, you can see the process that was used to produce these stone troughs. The stone was first crafted into a huge rectangle, then a channel was chiseled out inside leaving a stone ‘island’ than would eventually be hacked out leaving the perfect trough.
Our Four Gritstone Edges guided walk yesterday took us past The Eagle Stone which is set back on the moorland just a short distance from Baslow Edge. It is a huge tower of Gritstone with an interesting local custom attached to it.
The age old custom is that before they are allowed to marry, the young men of Baslow have to prove their manliness and fitness for marriage by climbing onto the top of this huge stone. There is no easy way up because some of the higher parts of the stone overhang the lower parts. The village has always had its fair share of weddings though, so plenty must have managed it.
A couple of years ago on one of our guided walks we did see a group of young men laughing and joking around the stone, one wearing a brides veil around his waist. His mates told us he couldn’t get married on Saturday until he had climbed the stone. They cheated though and helped him up!
Our next guided walk along these gritstone edges that will pass The Eagle Stone is our ‘Four Gritstone Edges Walk’ on 9 May that forms part of the Peak District Walking Festival, and then the next one after that is on 18 August.
During the 2nd World War the Burbage Basin, below Burbage Edge was used as a military training area and there is still plenty of evidence of that today. You don’t have to look very hard to find huge boulders covered in bullet holes and marks from mortar shells. Usually the holes in the rocks are just one one side as they were used as targets whilst practicing attacking uphill positions.
This gritstone boulder is just off the main ‘Sheffield Country Way’ path through the valley, but there are lots more spread over a wide area.
It is gritstone and part of the long ridge of stone known by geologists as The Chatsworth Grit that runs down the east side of the Peak District. Stanage Edge, Millstone Edge, and Curbar Edge are all the same type of stone.
The stone was formed around 320 million years ago when the area was in a huge river delta. The grit was washed down the river from mountains further north and deposited in a wide area. Sometimes there would be layers deposited containing mud which would form softer rock. As it has become exposed to the elements in later years, these softer deposits have eroded, so the layers can be clearly seen in the rock.
Salt Cellar Boulder is so called because many people feel it’s shape resembles a salt pot.