Dixie and I arrived at the little village of Elton, in the White Peak, just before 10am. Very good timing for me actually, as we were due to meet James and Reuben outside the church at 10am. I parked up on the main street and got my boots on, just as James drove past looking for a handy parking spot. I went over to say hi and Happy Birthday to Reuben before getting Dixie out of the car. Dixie can have a tendency to liven the proceedings somewhat, but to my surprise was clearly on her best behaviour from the word go!
James had sorted us an interesting route of around 8 miles, taking in both Robin Hood’s Stride and the Nine Ladies stone circle. The only one of those I’d ever visited before was the stone circle and that had been quite a few years ago. I’d certainly no memory of the route we’d taken.
Although windy and grey, the weather was dry, but I’m sure that anyone who knows the White Peak will be able to imagine how muddy it was in places after all the rain we’ve had recently!
Anyway, leaving James to do all the navigating, we set off across the first muddy field. I nearly went flying in the first few minutes as Dixie enthusiastically pulled me sliding down the slope – it was a bit like the Iditarod without the snow. Things underfoot soon improved however and, as happens when chatting easily with someone, we came upon Robin Hood’s Stride almost before I’d realised it.
Now before I go any further, I have to admit that I knew virtually nothing about this feature at all. When I got home though, I had a look through a Mike Harding book I happen to have – ‘Walking the Peak and Pennines’ – and found out all sorts.
Apparently the feature has two names, the other being Mock Beggars Hall. This name is supposed to stem from the fact that from a distance, in some lights, the stones look like the chimneys of some grand house and beggars would be fooled into thinking that it might be a good place to visit to see if they could get some food.
The Robin Hood name is supposed to be because Robin once escaped some pursuers here by jumping from stone to stone. I think this is what James had in mind when he scrambled up for a photo opportunity.
I did my best, but I’m afraid I didn’t quite do James justice, as I was having difficulty working the zoom one-handed while holding the two dogs in the other hand…
It might not have been high here compared with the Dark Peak, but the views were still pretty good.
Another feature you could see from here is the Nine Maidens stone circle on Harthill Moor. I didn’t get any photos of this as it was in a field, but there are only 4 stones that remain standing. Don’t know when or where the other 5 went… Like the Nine Ladies circle which we visited later in the day, these stones were all supposed to be women that had been turned to stone for dancing on the sabbath, or – as Mike Harding so aptly put it in his book – ‘Neolithic ravers who danced themselves rigid.’
The wind throughout the day was bitter at times and quite gusty. Perfect weather in fact for James to be trying out one of his Christmas presents. This was a very neat looking anemometer. Occasionally on the walk we would be quite sheltered but would then suddenly move into an exposed position where the wind would gust noticeably. This would be the signal to each guess what we thought the wind speed would be and then check it with the anemometer. It was very interesting as we would invariably guess a higher speed than it was – say 25mph, when it might only actually be 19mph. I was very impressed with it. It also gave the air temperature – which if I remember rightly was about 8C – and the wind chill temperature, which was 2C. Not much above freezing in fact – no wonder my face felt a bit battered at the end of the day!
The next feature we visited was the Hermit Cave.
Mr. Harding doesn’t say much about this, other than there is a crucifix and a bench inside it. Clearly the cross had long since gone. It was a bit of a sheltered spot though, so it seemed a good place to stop and have First Lunch.
In the absence of a trig point, James got Reuben to pose on a rock for a photo:
We continued the walk by dropping bown to Birchover, going past the Druid Inn and the Rowter Rocks. These rocks are a 150 feet high outcrop which has been carved into all sorts of fantastic shapes. There is also supposed to be a connection in the early 1700s with a guy known as the Reverend Thomas Eyre, who apparently liked to sit in a specially carved out study area in the rocks to compose his sermons. Apologies, as I didn’t take a photo…
One of the features of walking in the White Peak of course, is the intense navigation required. All the field boundaries, stiles, lanes etc have always been a good excuse for an argument between hubby Geoff and I. James did a grand job though, patiently getting the map out at every junction and muttering quietly to himself before setting off purposefully again in the right direction.
After Birchover, we climbed steadily again up to Stanton Moor. The first feature we noticed here was the Cork Stone.
Historians believe that this was once the centre stone of a large stone circle. These days it’s on its own, with footholds and iron hoops to help people climb to the top for the purpose of sitting on it. James casually suggested that I scaled it for photography purposes…
Moving on around Stanton Moor, we came across the aforementioned Nine Ladies stone circle.
We didn’t hang around here for long as it was quite busy, but went over to the edge of the moor to find a spot for Second Lunch.
Once again, Dixie and Reuben seemed to get on really well all day.
We were highly amused though, to notice that on 3 or 4 occasions when Dixie paused to investigate a nice smell, Reuben cocked his leg and wee-ed all over her head! Dixie didn’t seem put out by this in the slightest – obviously some sort of friendship ritual that I certainly haven’t come across before!
We finally got back to Elton at around 3-ish, just before it started to rain. In fact driving home, I went through some really wild and wet stuff on the main road from Tideswell to Peak Forest.
It had been a good day out – many thanks to James for sorting an extremely interesting route and doing all the navigating…