Saturday, 22 December 2012

Of millstones and men.

With the (hollow) promise of some sunshine today, we decided to head for the hills and edges, as most of the dales were a quagmire after the recent rains. I wanted to take some pictures of the many millstones that we knew were below Stanage edge, so we parked at Burbage bridge, and headed towards a dull & forbidding looking Stanage.

Please remember, to get a larger version of any photo, click on it.

Almost at once, the moorland call of ‘GO BACK, GO BACK’ was heard from the ubiquitous grouse.
You can hear the call here; just click on ‘audio’.

 We soon climbed to High Neb trig’ point. Both Sue and I think it’s really sad that the Ordnance Survey no longer paint these icons of high places. I’m SURE volunteers would do it (me included) to keep the white beacons shining. On a sunny day, they used to be SO visible, but in this drab, green garb they can be easily missed.

I quickly spotted our first cache of abandoned millstones just below the edge. These, like many others, look finished, but abandoned.
You can read up more about them here;

 I've walked here many times, but usually attracted to the top of the edge, so I’d never noticed this before, not only stones, but a part-finished trough!

This, too, took our attention. This really does look like someone has brick-supported this huge boulder, but it is, in fact, completely natural. We saw a few other examples of this, but this was by far the best.

It was pretty cold today, not frosty, but not far off. We could see snow settled in the gullies of Kinder Scout & the wind was sharp enough to warrant wearing a headband and gloves. However, these hardy souls were not put off, and were tackling the rock head on.

Looking along the length of Stanage, always an awesome sight.
 The Castleton skyline peeps over Bamford edge. The reservoirs of Ladybower are hidden by the edge, nestling in the valley below.

 Looking back. We dropped down the old road, and continued under the edge, searching for more ‘gritstone graveyards’.
 It wasn’t long before the first ‘victims’ came into view. Lots are like this, looking like all they lacked was horsepower to take them away down the hill to a waiting mill.

  A huge, domed stone lies in the bracken.

Many, many more suffer the same cold fate, slowly being colonised by the lichen.

 “Give us a lift with this, will you”.

 A complete rack. How much muscle and sweat was wasted on these stones? One or more men must have been absolutely heartbroken to know their hard graft had all been in vane.
The better quality French stones decimated the English trade, almost overnight, in one fell swoop.

Destined to spend the rest of their years looking silently up at the edge that spawned them

 Fallen victims of the stone wars. 

 All the way down the hill, stone after stone lies abandoned.

 A lot of pictures of stones, I know, but they really do make you feel sad when you see so many.
 At least they have a cracking view over their shoulder. Win hill, Lose hill and Mam tor, with Kinder Scout to the right.

Time for lunch with the edge stretched out behind us. Some people have fancy canteens and restaurants to eat their lunch – we wouldn't swap THIS location for ANY of theirs.
 The stark, cold rock of Stanage edge. Without sunlight to soften it, this is one harsh place to be, but somehow beautiful.
 The only sign of the sun we saw all day – the last rays peeking out from under a heavy sky. Fingers of gold. 

A short eight miles saw us back at the car just in time. We have to steal every moment at this time of the year with days being so short, and today, we felt like we’d had a good one even though there was no sunshine to speak of. We went home happy souls to settle into a hot bath, and a hearty dinner.

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