The Monuments Of Baslow Edge and Gardoms Edge
The eastern edge of the peak district is characterised by the ridge of gritstone that runs down from the high moors to the north. These gritstone extensions are clearly visible from the limestone plateau, due to the gritstone cliffs at their edges, and the wild moor beyond.
This is a walk along some of the eastern moors finest edges. The walk takes in Baslow edge, Birchen edge and some of Gardom's edge, before dropping below the edges for the views of the stunning gritstone cliffs. On the way the scenery takes in the heather moor and peat of the east moors, the tamed moorland enclosed in modern times, and the fertile valleys below the edges. The route also includes its fair share of history, with monuments to two of the 19th centuries heroes, and the remains of Britons far older.
The walk starts from the Peak Park car park to the north end of Baslow Edge, grid reference, 264746. There is a charge for parking, but lower down the hill, on the Curbar side, there are some spaces by the side of the road, for the early riser, which are free. Wherever you end up parking, enter the east moor estate by the gated track on the crest of the hill, on the south side of the road.
Follow the track for a short distance, and then follow the smaller path towards the edge to your right. This leads away from the main track, and meets Baslow edge at a built viewpoint. This viewpoint marks all of the major sights visible from that point, and gives a marvellous view north over Curbar edge. The path we need to use follows the edge south, and is preferable to the large track which you will just have left. It is however quite rocky, and those preferring the easy life may prefer to retrace their steps to the main track and follow that south to rejoin the route later.
Follow the rough, but easily visible path southwards along Baslow edge. This leads finally to the point where the edge stops going south, and turns to the east. There is the remains of a quarry at this point, and the old quarry road is visible below snaking down to Baslow below. Looking south down the valley, beyond Baslow, the bulk of Chatsworth House can be seen amongst its parkland. If it is hazy, the glint of sunlight from the windscreens of the cars in the car park gives away the location of the house itself.
Follow the path around to the left, where you will meet the main track again. Take a short detour left on the wide track and head towards the large rock sat on its own. This is the Eagle stone, and it is a strong part of local folklore. The name is believed to come from Egglestone or 'witches stone'. The local legend states that the women would not entertain a proposal of marriage until the young man in question had demonstrated his prowess by climbing the stone. This would apparently favour the couple with the witches. It is also said that the eagle stone turns around at cock crow. This myth may have come about from ancient times when prehistoric man used the prominent rocks on the skyline for astronomical alignments, with time the complexities of astronomy have been converted by folklore to this simple saying.
Of the two paths south from the Eagle stone, follow the left hand one, at an angle to the main north south route. This will take you to the first of the walks man made monuments. This is a stone cross on the edge of the valley, dedicated to the Duke of Wellington. The monument is inscribed 'Wellington Born 1769 Died 1852. Erected 1866 by E.M. Wrench late of 34th Regiment'. There are good views across the valley towards Gardom's Edge and the second monument of the day, Nelson's monument.
From Wellingtons monument, follow the track in an easterly direction as it follows the top of the valley. This path follows the edge of the valley below, and skirts the edge of Eaglestone Flats on the left. Just before the track passes into the enclosed moorland, you pass the remains of a Bronze Age burial site. In, under and around the stone features on the moorland have been discovered 15 human cremations. Some have been placed in pots in pits in the ground. These pot burials may have been imported from other cremation sites in other areas. Other remains include funeral pits with burnt sides. The site itself was discovered by accident when a new drainage ditch was being dug on the moor.
The path finally brings you to the minor road on which you may have parked your car. Pass through the gate at the road, and turn right, down the hill to the crossroads. Cross the main Baslow to Sheffield road and pass into the moorland on the southern quarter by the stile. There is a clear path visible snaking across the moorland, follow this for a short distance, before heading left on a more indistinct path. This path is difficult to pick up until higher ground is reached, and can be boggy in places. If you are unsure about the location of this path, aim for the left hand end of the edge above, and a narrow but quite distinct path will come into view before long.
If you can't find a way up to the upper edge, the lower path passes through the scrub below, and brings you onto the edge much further round. This is easier to find, but you lose out on the better view from above.
Once the better path is reached, it is simple to follow this as it bends round to the right, and becomes a narrow path through the heather as it climbs onto the higher edge of Birchen Edge. From up here you get a good view of the lower shelf below, where many remains of the past uses are still to be found. The small plateau above Gardom's Edge and below Birchen Edge has seen activity in one shape or form for thousands of years. The earliest example being an Neolithic defended enclosure using the cliffs of the edge as one of its sides. There is plenty of evidence of Bronze Age remains, from boundary banks, standing stones and cairns to barrows. The cliffs of Gardom's edge have evidence of millstone quarrying from medieval times. Other heavy industries are represented by small scale coal mining, with remains of bell pits dotted over the southern end of the plateau. There are farm buildings and remains that date from medieval times to the present on the southern part of the plateau, while the northern part of the plateau has evidence of the 2nd world war artillery positions placed here for anti aircraft guns. All in all a lot crushed into such a small place. Sheffield University have studied the site for a number of years, and their information is documented at http://www.shef.ac.uk/~geap/ for those seeking more information. This site also includes a plan of the antiquities on the site.
Follow the path to the triangulation pillar, where the more traditional gritstone blocks begin to appear on the edge. This gritstone edge, small in comparison to its cousins further north, is still popular with climbers, who will be visible all along the edge.
Follow the edge south, and you will come to a gritstone column with a ball on the top of it, this is Nelsons Monument. Close by, three natural boulders have been carved with the names of Nelsons ships, Victory, Defiant and Royal Soverin. The monument was erected in 1810 by John Brightman from Baslow. The date of 1865 inscribed at the base of the monument just proves that graffiti is not a modern invention. From here follow the edge as it gently drops down into the valley beyond. The path finally turns right, down off the edge by a steep path, and joins the main path below the edge. Over the wall is an oddly sighted small golf course. Turn left on the main track, and follow it down to the Baslow to Chesterfield road.
At the road, turn right and follow the road past the Robin Hood Pub, and then for a short distance down the hill to a stile in the wall. Cross the stile, and pass into the field on the far side. There is a clearly visible path passing through the centre of the field to the right of a stand of trees. In the centre of the field is the remains of a Neolithic ring cairn, but the actual ring is now only really visible in your minds eye.
Follow the path towards the small gritstone edge at the top of the field, where the path meets a wall. Ignore the path going down the ridge to the left, and follow the wall up onto the ridge to the right. Follow the ridge and the wall along until a wall blocks your path. Pass through the wall and beyond you will find three cairns. The cairns lie at the centre of the Neolithic enclosure and are know as the three men. They were allegedly raised to commemorate three men lost on the moor in bad weather. This may be true, but they are built on the much older remains of a Bronze Age barrow. You will have crossed the southern portion of the enclosure to get to the three men, but it is not very easy to notice as you walk over it. Further north, on the other side of the stone wall, excavated examples exist which give you a better idea of the scope of the work. There is quite a bit of information about this enclosure on Sheffield Universities site mentioned above, for those who wish to dig deeper.
From the three men follow the ridge for a short distance and you will come to a distinct gash in the rock of the edge, going back in the general direction you have come from. This is the remains of a ancient hollow way, cutting down through a natural gash in the cliff face. The resulting path is very easy to follow even when clear of the cliff face, but it is a bit overgrown. Follow this path down the hillside until you meet a well used north south track at about the tree line. Turn right on this track, and follow it downhill. The path comes to a wall which is broken down in the corner, passes through another field and hits the Sheffield road again just after passing a house.
Cross the main road and follow the public footpath on this side of the road as it drops down into the valley below. When the path meets the stream, it crosses by an old pack horse bridge. This is easy to spot as the actual bridge is very narrow, with funnel like entrances on either end. The stream falls over a series of cascades as it passes below the bridge. A very idyllic spot. Upstream from the pack horse bridge are a number of private houses nestling in the valley, and a modern high level bridge giving access to these houses.
Follow the path on the other side of the bridge as it skirts left around the private gardens, and then crosses a stile into the woodland beyond. The path makes its way up the hill, through the trees, and is supposed to follow the wall. At points it is very boggy, and a new path is forming which skirts these boggy bits. After about ¼ mile uphill, the wall which has been on the left turns round to its left, and the path follows it, still climbing, but on a much more gentle slope.
Follow this path as it makes its way along the edge of the valley. Wellingtons monument can be glimpsed through the trees as you pass below it, a few hundred yards before the edge of the tree line. Keep following the path by the wall until you meet a big track going up the hill at an angle. This is the old quarry road up from Baslow. Do not go up this track, but follow the edge of the wall beyond it as it skirts the outside of the last field up the hillside. At the corner of the field, follow the path that skirts the top of the field, keeping the field to your left. This field is private land so don't try to enter the field.
A good path can be followed just above this field, which then drops down the side of Baslow edge beyond the field system and joins up with a good track. Turn right onto the track and follow it as it contours around below the edge. This track can be a bit boggy in places, but there is no trouble skirting the wet bits.
As the path starts to meet the valley field systems again, it turns back up the hill, and heads through a small green lane back up to the road. Follow this road back to wherever you parked your car.
All information contained within the Peak District Walks site is © Copyright, Andrew Nimmo. If you wish to re-use any of the information, walks or images, please contact the author.