Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Dark Peak

After a last minute change of plan, this morning saw a whistle stop tour of the Dark Peak and the chance to photograph some of my favourite locations...

An early start to hopefully capture some early morning light was somewhat hampered by the time I arrived at Edale by thick fog...In fact a real pea souper!

My time was limited today, so rather than hang about waiting for the mist to clear, I decided to keep moving and take the short drive to Mam Tor.

Mam Tor or 'Mother Mountain' is the second highest peak in the Peak District behind the world famous Kinder Scout.
Around the summit of Mam Tor there is a ringed 'ditch' which is the remains of an Iron age hill fort.

The other famous feature of the mountain is a 4000 year old landslide which has attracted studies by Geologists from all over the world.
In 1819 the A625 Manchester to Sheffield road was constructed, but unfortunately the road which winds around the slopes of Mam Tor, twice crossed the main body of the landslide.
Over the next 160 years the road was under constant repair due to land movement and in 1977 a large movement restricted the road to a single lane.
Another large movement in 1979, resulted in the permanent closure to traffic.

I have always had a fascination with Mam Tor with it's unstable slopes and the remains of the former A625 prove that man really can't compete with the power of nature.

Next stop this morning was a short 2 mile journey to Castleton and an interesting feature known as Cave Dale...
A dry limestone valley which was formed by glacial meltwater carving the soluble limestone into a deep narrow gorge at the end of the last Ice age.
Over time, the river found it's way underground leaving a dry valley and many caverns and chambers below.

I first visited Cave Dale as a schoolboy and have always loved the area.

It is a very unique place and although only a few minutes walk from the centre of Castleton, it can give a sense of great isolation...In fact it can be quite eerie sometimes, especially at dawn with nothing but the squawking of Ravens and Jackdaws to keep you company!

Jackdaws are something of a feature of the Castleton area and they seem to be just about everywhere you look.
In some cultures, the sight of a Jackdaw on a roof is the sign of a new arrival.
Alternatively, a Jackdaw settling on a roof or flying down a chimney is considered to be an omen of death and even coming across one is considered a bad omen...hmmmm!!!

Finally, after an aborted stop at a very busy Derwent Valley, I arrived at the very quiet and remote Bleaklow.
Conditions were much improved on my last visit a fortnight ago, with nearly all the snow now melted leaving a very wet and boggy footing on this unforgiving peat moor.

The reason I wanted to visit Bleaklow today was to photograph the Red Grouse again and I'll tell you more about it in my next post...

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