Gritstone Edges

View from Stanage Edge

The Peak District is split up between the White Peak and the Dark Peak, named because of the colour of the lighter limestone and the dark grit stone.

The escarpments in the Peak District are usually known as’ edges’ and they are stunning natural wonders and a haven for rock climbers, walkers and ramblers. They are literally a sheer wall of rock with heather blossoming in the spring and summer months transforming their rather fearsome appearance into somewhere lush and lovely, and in winter, the moorland stretching above them can look very barren but home to lots of wildlife and cattle roaming free.

The most famous of the gritstone edges of the Peak District are Stanage, Curbar, Burbage, Froggatt, Baslow, Birchen and Gardom’s. Each have their very own atmosphere and varying degrees of hard to reach places, but most are fantastic places to take the children to scramble upon their rocks, dog walking and simply places to go for a picnic and wonder at the spectacular views below.

They represent a 12 mile long, almost continuous wall of rock and all the while, the wooded valley of the River Derwent runs beneath and north towards Eyam Moor. In autumn, the valley below is shrouded in mist as the rocks loom above and in the summer, the views stretch for miles. Walking along the crest of these edges, the views stretch to Win Hill and the distant line of Kinder Scout and Bleaklow. They are an absolute Mecca for rock climbers who come from miles around and delight in the abrasive quality of the rock and the short, steep but technical challenges different rock faces that the gritstone has to offer. There are over 650 rock climbing routes on Stanage edge alone and many internationally famous climbers have learned the ropes here, leaving behind them descriptive names which match the severity of the climb.

Names like Desperation, The Left And Right Unconquerables are on Stanage Edge.  On Curbar, there are The Insanity and The Peapod, on Birchen Edge above Bamford, the claims have nautical names like The Crows Nest, keeping with the historic Nelson Monument on top of the moor and the three very impressive weathered rocks named after Nelson’s three ships. Birchen is also home to Kiss Me Hardy and Emma’s Dilemma. Froggat is home to the very scarily named Eliminate.

The Edges were once home to a thriving industry, as the course gritstone was in great demand from the 17th-century as grind and millstones, used for flour mills and also the emerging cutlery industry in nearby Sheffield. On many of the walks you will do on these edges, abandoned millstones can still be seen littered around the moorland, or on ledges in the rock faces themselves. They were cut from the living rock in quarries and rolled off the moor using wooden axles fixed between them. The industry collapsed when imported carbonundrum stones came in, but the millstone remains the boundary marker for the Peak District National Park and very proud of it we are too!