|Sunday 13 July 2003
Arriving at Elderford's layby at 119 229 619, we discovered it was full. But luckily there is room for one car at the bottom of the lane on the west side of the road. This is right by the gate to the track leading up the hill towards Robin Hood's Stride, Cratcliffe Rocks etc and Nine Stones Close.
We didn't stop at the Hermit's Cave as there are far too many really old stones in Derbyshire to bother wasting time looking at medieval holes! (I guess it may well have been significant before that really, but I liked the phrase!)
The track bends left as it approaches Robin Hood's Stride directly towards the craggy outcrop, leaving Cratcliffe Tor (as I believe the outcrop with the hermit's cave is called).
Robin Hood's Stride is pretty impressive, but we weren't going to bother climbing it (too hot!). We kept to the track, not taking a footpath to the right which I'd guess goes out onto the top of Cratcliffe Tor.
It probably passes Cratcliffe Rocks and Cratcliffe Rocks Fort. I'll have to go back for a looksee, but today time was whizzing past.
As you pass Robin Hood's Stride on your left and the hill flattens out, there is a field gate in front of you, a stile on your left and another gate on the right. Someone has painted arrows to try to clarify where the path actually goes, but they probably make it more confusing from this direction.
If you're going to Nine Stones Close, however, it doesn't matter! Although John and I took ages to realise it – too busy working out where the path goes – the stones are in the second field right in front of you!
At this point they are about a quarter of a mile away, slightly to the left, in a field bounded by a dry-stone wall, next to a single tree.
Nine Stones Close caught me off-guard both by the fact that we looked virtually straight at it without seeing it and by the fact that it was somehow not as I had imagined it.
I knew its stones were pretty big. I knew it was in a 'good' setting. I'd even seen quite a few pictures. But I think I'd let it get 'over-shadowed' (ironically) by how much I was looking forward to seeing Doll Tor at last.
In the end I think the stark contrast between the 2 circles in size and setting actually worked to make Nine Stones Close all the more interesting and impressive. It's not really at all like any of them, but it faintly made me think of one of the Machrie Moor circles on Arran (a wonderful place). Machrie Moor II maybe.
Well, Nine Stones Close is a wonderful place too.
Despite being overlooked by the outcrops of Robin Hood's Stride and Cratcliffe at the south, in the sunshine on Sunday Nine Stones Close was, for me, far from in their thrall. On a clear day, the wide dale opening up to the north allows the circle to be intimate, almost cozy, yet in a place of space under a huge sky.
I found it strangely compelling and now want to see it in more forbidding weather. I imagine it will look and feel very different.
On the way back to the car, I quickly sprinted up Robin Hood's Stride to see if it was worth an 'elevated context*' snap of my now beloved Nine Stones Close, as I had a 300mm lens with me (it wasn't).
*I just made up some jargon! Anyone know what it means?
I was very impressed with Robin Hood's Stride itself and it's wacky shapes though, as well as the views it commands.
This post appears as part of the weblog entry Delerious in Derbyshire
Posted by Moth
17th July 2003ce
Edited 22nd July 2003ce