Goldsitch Moss Nature Reserve

A Site of Special Scientific Interest – and beautiful landscape to boot

images/impressiverocks.jpgNational Grid Ref: 022648 on The White Peak 1:25000 OS map. (Recommended).

If you fancy a stroll around a really impressive moorland landscape, with a feast of wildlife on offer, but you don’t have the legs for the likes of Kinder Scout, then this is the place for you.

Goldsitch Moss and Blackbank Valley Nature Reserve, to give it its full but rather wordy title, is located easily off the A53, between the more famous Roaches and the village of Flash.  Heading South from Buxton, pass the turning for Flash and take either of the next turnings on your right.

If you take the second of these, at the former inn of Royal Cottage, a number of parking places will become apparent on this single track road, from which you can explore the open country. (But be careful not to obstruct a passing place).  Drive further on to access Gib Tor Rocks and beyond.

images/mossandheather.jpgThe reserve, managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, takes in a small area of pine forest, a few brooks, damp meadows, bog and classic heather moorland from which erupt some truly spectacular outcrops of gritstone.   Most of it is open access land, giving you the freedom to have a good explore, but be warned, the bog is proper bog and even in summer months you might find yourself up to your knees in sucking mud.

Fortunately there are many excellent paths through the reserve on which you should be quite safe if you don’t fancy such an adventure.  The other danger around the outcrops of rock is the presence of hidden holes, obscured by heather and bilberry – best take a stick and prod before you step, if at all unsure.

One of the delights of stepping away from beaten track, however, is the presence of great pillows of sphagnum moss, through which everything seems to be growing; it is like walking over a luxury goose down duvet, (until you come across one of those boggy bits!)   And what a plethora of plants there are; the botanist will be in absolute heaven here.  Besides the almost ubiquitous heather, purple moor grass and bilberry, such rarities as moonwort, mountain pansy, water avens, globe flower and small fern are to be found, along with bog asphodel, devil’s bit scabious, valerian, cowberry and crowberry, to name but a few.

Birds at the site may include snipe, merlin, short-eared owl and of course, red grouse – this being a nature reserve they seem to know they are safe from being shot and are a little less flighty than elsewhere.  But it is the landscape itself which is the real star, with views extending as far as Shuttlingsloe to the North West and the purple slopes at the back of The Roaches nearer to hand.

/images/viewtoramshaw.jpgThe impressive tors of typical, pink Staffordshire gritstone are strangely deceptive; they seem nothing from a distance, but get up close and they transform into towering monsters.  The odd thing is that most of them seem un-named, at least as far as the OS map is concerned.  The exception is Gib Tor Rocks, which loom over the dark woodland; it is like a great tongue sticking rudely from the earth.  At the southern end of the reserve you can see the more famous Ramshaw Rocks and this is a popular walk if you fancy stretching your legs a little further.

If you do, then you will come across the delightful Tisha’s Tea Rooms, just where the path out of the reserve touches the road that runs down from the junction with The Winking Man Pub, (or see grid ref: 018646).   Tisha serves tea, cakes and scones right on the edge of the moor, with an open-air terrace for fine weather.  It is currently only open at weekends.  It is a new venture in an old moorland house; there are beehives just behind the propery, so presumably they are making their own heather honey, which would be a real treat.

/images/richlandscape.jpgAny of the rocky areas will prove a great place for a picnic, as they stay relatively dry, perched above the more boggy zones.  In fact, this would be great place to bring fairly young children if you wanted to introduce them to some less familiar wildlife; at the first sign of boredom they could be directed towards the bigger rock formations which would be sure to fire up their imaginations.  The rock is good firm stuff, not at all crumbly and easy to grip with almost any kind of sole, so they would be relatively safe, also.

The Winking Man, mentioned above, serves traditional home-cooked food (much of it locally sourced) and is very reasonably priced also.  They are open lunchtimes and evenings and all day at weekends.  Another nearby option with good real ale is The New Inn in at Flash (the highest village in England).  As you might expect, it also has wonderful views from its small terrace.

Simon Corble