The original plan was to walk a part of the Limestone Way but this required two drivers and when one of the drivers dropped out at the last-minute a plan B was required. Fortunately one of my friends had lived in the Peaks for a while so he quickly came up with a route around Stanage Edge of about 13 miles.
It was a blue sky with just a few clouds when we left Hathersage not too warm with a slight breeze, we climbed up through fields and woods to the base of Stanage. Then North West along the base of the cliffs through chest high bracken for about a mile. Climbing up onto the ridge we turned South East along the ridge to Burbage Edge.
We walked along the path below Burbage Edge and then across the valley to Higger Tor. It was more cloudy by then but still warm and basically sunny. From Higger Tor we traveled west across various paths,roads and tracks to arrive back at the north end of Hathersage where a local cricket match was being played so we stopped and watched a couple of overs.
On the path from Hathersage to Stanage Edge we came across a cottage called ‘Bronte Cottage’ where Charlotte Bronte stayed while visiting a friend called Ellen Nussey. During that time she often visited North Lees Hall which belonged to the Eyre family. This stone built mansion with its oak door and battlements built in 1594 became the inspiration for Thornfield Hall belonging to Edward Rochester in the famous novel ‘Jane Eyre’.
The hall is only a little further up the hill from the cottage and when you see it, it is easy to imagine Mr Rochester trying to save his ill-fated wife from the burning battlements, Charlotte Bronte captured the spirit of the hall amazingly well. I read Jane Eyre a few years ago when going through a classical phase in my reading, so it was quite exciting to come into contact with the living history of the book.
Stanage Edge is the largest gritstone edge in the Peaks and is known all over the world by climbers, there were certainly plenty of them about on Saturday, I guess it was ideal weather for it. There were a lot of people walking as well families, people of all ages lone hikers and groups of tourists, I liked being a part of so many people enjoying the Peaks.
While following the path below the cliffs you can’t help but to stumble across some of the millstones that have become the symbol of the Peak District. These monoliths look somewhat out-of-place lying halfway down the hill, they look like something out of the flint stones but are in fact the remnant of what was once a thriving industry. Hand chiseled millstones were used to grind wheat, wood pulp for paper, and smaller ones were used to sharpen tools. Unfortunately the industry suddenly collapsed in the 19th Century due to foreign imports (familiar story ?) and the millstones were abandoned where they were made.
It took us a long time to cross the top of the edge because although we did not have any ropes there are still plenty of rocks to explore and climb without them. While doing this we found Robin Hood’s cave, it is not much of a cave more of an undercut in the rock face. The legend is that it is where he hid as an outlaw I imagine in his day there would have been a lot more undergrowth around and it certainly would have been hard to find we nearly missed it. It had a great view over the valley I guess that would have been useful to him, and we had fun scrambling around inside it.
We stopped near there to eat our lunch, whilst sitting there I could see Win Hill,Lose Hill,Mam Tor and Kinder and I could work out where Ladybower was, looking around suddenly all the different places that I have been to over the years fell into place like a light going on in my head all the topography made sense.
We had a young lad called Jonny with us we all got out our sandwiches and snack bars but he pulled out of his rucksack a massive tub of pasta and cheese, it was huge! Every time we stopped from then on even if it was only for two minutes out would come this tub, or he would lie down and start falling asleep, an interesting method for walking.
I love walking with friends especially when I have not seen them for a while, when there is plenty of time, good weather and great views what better way to spend a day. I think we relax and talk easier at such times, away from our usual life environment we are freer to talk about things that matter to us, and have a good laugh as well.
On Higger Tor we sat for sometime chatting and watching life go by, just enjoying life and being together not bothered about anything at that moment in time.
On the way back we stopped at the church yard to see Little John’s grave. He is supposed to have died in a cottage near by, it certainly was long enough. Whether you believe it or not I suppose depends on whether or not you believe in Robin Hood. There are lots of places named after him around the area so maybe there is some truth somewhere.Either way it certainly made the walk more interesting.
As we walked into Hathersage the local cricket team was playing how English is that on a sunny Saturday afternoon. We watched them play a couple of overs the batsmen were doing well they knocked up a couple of fours, but I don’t know whether they were the home team. Think we could stayed for ages but it was time for food (well that’s what our stomachs were saying, except Jonny’s)
Sometimes plan B works out better than the original this was such a day, apart from falling over and bashing my hip, which although it hurt wasn’t so bad really it was a perfect day at Stanage Edge.