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Monday, 19 November 2012

Mysterious Stanton Moor

This week Ike wanted to see the Andle Stone on Stanton Moor, so we set off at 7:15 and parked up just outside the "Gateway" to the moor on the road between Birchover & Stanton in the Peak.
You can see the Andle Stone from the road and we quickly got over the field to get there. It was a lovely bright frosty morning, just the way i like it.
Stanton Moor is an area of gritstone that stands at a height of 280-320 metres above sea level in Derbyshire between the villages of Stanton in Peak to the north and Birchover in the south and with the River Derwent to the east. The area has been occupied since at least the Bronze Age and contains the remains of 2 definitestone circles (Nine Ladies and Doll Tor), 3 other possible circles or ring cairns (Stanton Moor NorthCentraland South) and an estimated 120 other cairns as well as several natural standing stones and rock outcrops. Most of these sites lie on the eastern and southern slopes of the moor and have fine views towards the Derwent and the hills beyond but stone quarrying in the central area could have robbed us of many other unrecorded cairns or circles. The sites have also received the attention of antiquarians and early archaeologists since the 18th century who have actually done them much harm and made modern interpretations difficult, in particular the father and son team of the Heathcotes whose 1930's and 40's excavations and inaccurate reconstructions have hindered our understanding of the original form of many of the cairns. Much of what remains is now covered in thick layers of heather while increasing visitor numbers have lead to erosion on the moor particularly around the area of the Nine Ladies which has lead to the site being resurfaced with new turf.
Geoff getting his leg over again!!
Andle Stone on the outskirts of Stanton Moor
Rob, Geoff & Ike at the Andle Stone
Inscription on the back of the Andle Stone

The Andle Stone or Oundle Stone is a dominating outcrop of sandstone, standing alone in the middle of a field, surrounded by a dry-stone wall and a mass of rhododendrons. Approximately 5m high by 4.5m wide, the rock is supposedly carved with ancient cupmarks on the top, modern graffiti, a relatively recent inscription and climbing holes on the sides. An inscription on the Andle Stone pays tribute to the Duke of Wellington and to a member of the family that owns the land. It reads: 'Field Marshall Duke of Wellington, died 14 Sept 1852 Aged 82 years. Lieut. Colonel William Thornhill 7 Hussars. Died 9 Dec 1851. Aged 71 years.' And underneath: 'Assye 1803. Waterloo 1815.' 
I had researched the night before and found a reference to a small stone circle in the woods close to the Andle Stone, so we set off GPS in hand to find it.
None of us had heard of this circle with the odd name of Doll Tor. It was quite easy to find only being a couple of hundred meters into the woods, and pretty spectacular it was.
Doll Tor Stone Circle is maintained by English Heritage and the Peak National Park Authority, Doll Tor is a delightful little stone circle consisting of six standing stones, no more than a metre in height, with an adjoining cairn. The circle is approximately 6m by 4.5m in diameter with five stones of similar size and height, and one smaller wider one. It is surrounded on three sides by trees, but there are wonderful views to the west across the valley and hills beyond. Recently restored by English Heritage and the Peak National Park Authority, the site is seen today as it would have been originally in the Bronze Age. 

Sun rise on the stones
The 4 of us at Doll Tor
Doll Tor is a wonderful stone circle and cairn that is hidden beneath the dappled shade of a small wood (of much later date) a short distance from the natural rock outcrop of the Andle Stone and the circles and cairns of Stanton Moor beyond. The tiny circle of six stones, with a diameter of around six metres surrounding a central levelled platform is unusual for this area as it has no bank, although the stones were once connected with a low dry stone wall. The circle itself was first excavated by Thomas Bateman in 1852 who found bucket urns and small cups. Heathcote re-excavated between 1931-1934 and discovered five cremations and more urns, there were further discoveries in the low cairn that is built on to the eastern side of the circle incorporating one of the circle stones. It was found to consist of a central rectangular stone grave pit which contained a female cremation along with a segmented faience bead, with four other cremations having been placed round the inner edge of the stone bank before it was all eventually filled in to form the cairn.
There are nice views from the woods at Doll Tor overlooking the surrounding valleys.

Lovely views form Doll Tor & The Andle Stone
We made our way back to the road via an old barn that Rob spotted. It does look quite old and in need restoration. Such as shame when you see these old buildings just left to fall apart. From the barn we went back past the Andle Stone

Des Res, just needs a lick of paint.
Another view of the Andle Stone
We had plenty of time so decided to cross the road and go onto the Moor and have a look at the Cork Stone, the name deriving from its obvious cork shape.
The Cork Stone is one of a number of impressive natural outcrops on Stanton Moor. Composed of weathered sandstone it resembles a huge mushroom or cork. As with the Andle Stone nearby it is covered in graffiti from the 19th and 20th centuries and has steps carved into the side to allow access to the top.

The Cork Stone on Stanton Moor

We had our breakfast in the quarry adjacent to the Cork Stone where it just catching the low sun rays.
Breakfast in the quarry

Partly finished mill wheel
After we had snacked we set off for the Stanton Moor Trig point which was only about 10 minutes away.
Tree on Stanton Moor
Ike, Rob and Geoff at Stanton Moor Trig point
Me at the trig point. This is about 1075 feet above sea level.
From the trig point we thought we couldn't leave without a quick visit to the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, it was about 15 minutes walk past several huge quarries. You definitely didn't want to be wandering around here in the dark with these massive quarries to fall down.
Frosty morning at Nine Ladies Stone Circle

The Enchanting Tree 
Majestic Nine Ladies Stone Circle 

There are eight feast days or fire festivals celebrated at Stanton Moor, beginning with Imbolc, which celebrates Candlemass on February 1st. Next comes the Vernal Equinox on March 21st, followed by Beltane on 1st of May. But the largest gathering is on June 21st when crowds of up to two or three thousand come from all over the UK to the Nine Ladies to celebrate Midsummer Day. Lugnasad follows on August 1st, also a Fire Feast at Lammastide, and then the Autumn Equinox on September 21st. Samain follows All Hallows Eve, on November 1st and the final festival of the year is the Solar Feast of Midwinter's Day on December 21st. 

This was a cracking walk visiting some new places and revisiting others. The weather was really kind with a crisp frosty morning, just the way i like it.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Loch Long with Lochs & Glens

Just had a fabulous trip to Scotland with Lochs & Glens Holidays. We went to the new hotel "Ardgartan" they have just opened on Loch Long. There were 3 trips on 3 consecutive days, Edinburgh, Inveraray and Oban then Glen Coe & Fort William.
The first pics show the Ardgartan Hotel and views from the grounds. 

The next few pics show around Edinburgh

 The next few pics show around Inveraray

 This last pic is one of my favorite castles Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe
 Back to normal next week with the Blackbrook walkers.