Guest Blogger: Cath Lee, of Peak Walking Adventures
August is the perfect time to enjoy a walk in the part of the Peak District known as The Dark Peak. The heather on the moors bursts into flower, and vast swathes of moorland take on the appearance of being carpeted in purple. As you walk along in the sunshine, a lovely honey scent can be released as your legs brush against flowers at the side of the path.
The Dark Peak extends down the east and west sides of the Peak District and takes in most of the northern part of the National Park, so there is plenty of choice when it comes to moorland walks.
One of my personal favourites is Stanton Moor near to the villages of Birchover and Stanton in Peak. It’s also not too far from the towns of Matlock and Bakewell. A lovely network of paths lead around the edges, and across this small area of moorland. You can enjoy far reaching views down the Derwent Valley from the eastern edge.
Stanton Moor is home to the famous Nine Ladies Stone Circle. Believed to date back to Bronze Age times, and a place where ceremonies one took place, possibly of a religious nature. The information board there tells the entertaining story as to how the stone circle got its name.
Other fascinating features scattered around the moor include the Earl Grey Tower which was built to commemorate the passing of The Great Reform Act of 1832, and is named after the Prime Minister at that time. You can also marvel at a number of impressive gritstone rocks, such as the aptly named Cork Stone.
For a gentle walk of up to 3 miles, you could start and finish in the village of Birchover. The 172 bus passes through the village from Matlock or Bakewell. If you have a car, you could even park your car on Birchover Road north of the village at the actual entrance to the moor.
For a longer walk involving a hill, the village of Rowsley on the A6 between Matlock and Bakewell is a good place to start. You can take the footpath running directly south from Cauldwell’s Mill, passing Stanton Woodhouse Farm, then wind your way up the hillside on footpaths and lanes until you reach the moor. After exploring the beautiful moorland, a great route back down to Rowsley is to exit the moor at the northern end onto Lees Road, then take the footpath that runs at the side of Sheepwalk Wood onto Pilhough Lane, then on paths over fields and on lanes back to Rowsley. As you walk down the hillside you can enjoy spectacular views up the Derwent Valley, over the Haddon Estate, and towards the market town of Bakewell.
The Ordnance Survey, White Peak (OL24) Explorer Map is ideal to show you all of the footpaths and to help you find your way.
When walking over the beautiful moorlands, and through the pretty countryside of the Peak District, please follow the Countyside Code to help protect it, and enable others to enjoy a similar experience after you.