Nine walkers gathered outside Church on the 3rd February before leaving in our cars for our starting point at Rowsley.
After eating lunch we started our walk. On a sunny afternoon we could see our destination clearly, Stanton Moor, covered by a dusting of snow. We walked down a private drive, flat at first then steadily uphill. We passed through Stanton Woodhouse, first the Hall on our left dating from the 16th Century, then its outlying buildings. Leaving the drive we walked up a grassy path, calling back a couple of our colleagues who had taken the wrong path!
We could now see clearly the tower on Stanton Moor, but we still had more uphill to come. After crossing a minor road we walked through a wooded area, passing a ruin associated with the quarrying industry. More evidence of quarrying appeared as we passed unfinished mill stones on our right and a large quarry on our left. We were now high enough for the path and surrounds to be covered by snow, adding to the scenery. Finally after about an hour we reached the top of the moor.
After a quick discussion we decided we had time for a walk around the moor. On our right we saw the Reform or Earl Grey Tower, built by William Pole Thornhill and dedicated to the Reform Act 1832. Following the edge we had wonderful views over Darley Dale towards Riber Castle on the horizon.
Turning away from the edge we walked across the moor, past the Cork Stone, a natural rock feature with hand holds to aid climbing onto its top. We soon reached the highest point on the moor, marked by a trig point. At a height of 323m above sea level this concrete pillar, actually a triangulation station, was used to accurately map the country. Some 6,500 were built from 1935 onwards by the Ordinance Survey; they are now largely redundant, superseded by aerial photography and digital mapping using lasers and GPS.
Continuing along snowy paths we arrived at the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, an early Bronze Age circle of nine standing stones. Tradition has it that the circle got its name because nine ladies were turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath. None of our party wanted to dance today so we continued on our way.
When we came to the edge of the moor, a low metal barrier blocked our way. Whilst most people clambered over the stile, one person stooped under the barrier, only to get stuck!–much laughter from the rest of us.
We continued down the road towards Stanton in Peak, passed the cricket ground then downhill through woods before reaching another lane
After looking at the steep field path covered in snow we decided to take the easier route by continuing down the lane. Shortly we came to a roadside property with shetland ponies in a field on our right and alpacas in a field on our left – quite a menagerie.
Soon we returned to our cars after a 5 ½ mile walk before driving back to Chesterfield.
The walk on Sunday 3rd March will be led by Trish Law and Evelyn Lowe through fields and woodland, starting and ending at Ashover Rock. It is 4 to 5 miles in length and open to anyone who would like to join us. Meet at the church gates at 12 noon with a packed lunch when transport will be arranged.