I'd had my eye on Minninglow Hill for some time, quite literally as I kept noticing its distinctive profile on recent visits to the Peak District. So with the rare combination of a day off work, combined with a rare burst of reasonable (or at least dry) weather it felt like time to make the trip.
I wasn't sure what access would be like now, and as Ellen tends to get a bit twitchy at the thought of having to trespass I thought the best approach would be via the Midshires Way footpath. We travelled up past Ashbourne, as if heading to Arbor Low, but turned off beforehand onto the A5012 road to Cromford. A couple of miles along this road at the village of Pikehall, a right turn is signposted to a parking spot on the edge of the village where the footpath can be picked up.
At the pleasantly large parking area and picnic spot, the tree topped hill of Minninglow was clearly visible. Setting off along the footpath which ran along the site of an old disused railway line, the open countryside, with Minninglow looming ever larger in front of us, looked green and inviting, and so nice to be here after weeks of grey drizzle making life in town seem even duller than usual.
After crossing a high viaduct, and heading through into the remains of a small quarried area, I was more than pleasantly surprised to see a clearly way marked path up the hill. The signage and gates up the path looked fairly new and substantial, and gave no indication that the concessionary path was likely to be closed any time soon.
So safe in the knowlege that access was not going to be an issue we started walking up the hill. The rocky outcrops and large stones on the upper reaches of the slopes reminded me of the remains of ancient ramparts, and with only the stares of curious sheep for company we entered the gate into the tree enclolsed hill.
Two large megalithic barrows spring immediately into view, huge capstones exposed and showing the size this barrow would once have been. Although reduced in size over the millenia when you stand atop the embankment crowning the hill and look around you get an idea of the huge scale of this burial mound.
You feel so enclosed and sheltered here, the outer circle of trees screening you from the outside world, whilst an inner semi-circle of beeches huddles protectivly around the chambers. We unpacked our picnic and basked in the weak sun, just enjoying the magical atmosphere of the place, and as we eat we spot a hare darting from the cover of the trees into the field beyond.
Soon the cold wind starts to buffet at us and dark clouds glower in from the peaks making it too cold to sit around for much longer. But as other posts have said Minninglow is a fantastic place, and so private, we saw several groups of walkers on the footpath below the hill, but none seemed keen to go slightly out of their way to visit this amazing place, although I suppose that makes it quieter for those of us who like to just come to ancient places to chill out!
It may have taken me years to get around to visiting Minniglow but now I have I'll certainly be back!
Agreed with what everyone says! Access seems shady -but we walked right up, keeping out of sight of the farm - all a bit *Frodo in Mordor* lol... This is the place that you can see from all around - stand on the King's Mound at Arbor Low facing out and you see Minning low a little to your right - a tall hill with a crown of beech trees.
Park in the car park and follow the track - then over the fence and up the hill! Amusingly, we got tothe top and clambered over the fence, only to get inside and see that it has an open gate! Aya! It's a very special place - enclosed by shrubs and a fence, it has a totally different feel to many of the more exposed places - no horizon, you are totally inside it. Some of the burial chambers are exposed, and you can lie inside if you want! But, they aren't very long!
The place seems to mess with time a little bit - a bit *Picnic at Hanging Rock* if you get my meaning! Very isolated in a way - not a big tourist place - I figure you could spend to or three days there undisturbed! Don't know about a fire - maybe, if you were careful, and coverd it back up - but it's such a small area really that a fire would damage the look of the place. More of a wrap up warm thing. But I figure you could camp there no problem.
It's a place to spend some time - bring a picnic, do your thing - whatever you do - spend some time with the dead! Left this place feeling revitalised.
If you're looking for it, on the path you see the farm to your right - go past that and when the farm is pretty much out of sight look up the big hill to where there are some very tall beech trees in a shrub-enclosed area at the crown of the hill - it's in there - so up the hill!
I was still buzzing from Arbor Low when me and Stubob hit this site.
Stu sorted out the access and we were away.
It can't be a coincidence that this site and it's beautiful grove of Beeches can be seen from all over the area.
This is an awsome place, full of wonder and dignity.
I gotta big-up stubob for letting me in on this lovely spot.
2 cairns lie in the plantation at Minninglow a massive Neolithic and a smaller Bronze age one, both with exposed chambers.
The Neolithic cairn is still big after much stone robbing, there are four visible chambers a couple with intact capstones, tho' some of the chambers have been infilled, after some dodgy digging unsettled the place. There may be another chamber still in the remaining mound.
Minninglow can be from miles away, (Five Wells, Bamford Moor). Only when you're up close to it the hill looks pretty unremarkable.
An excellent place, and no-one goes up there ...that might have something to do with dodgy access rights...
But it's got to be seen. This is 'the' site of The Peak District.
For what is life? And what is life like? I do not know what Life is but Life is like yesterday at Minninglow where as I peered over the flank of the grassy kist-crowned hill I saw a circle of six unmapped Neolithic standing stones I had not realised were there. Gray in the vernal sun lay they, Dinantian limestone sarsens honed round by the howling hail of ages. Gray as the drystone dykes and ice-plucked slabs and quarry walls about me. Always curious about antique things I strode against the freezing wind to see them, and they raised their heads and skittered in alarm.
James R Warren.
Perditions Illusion. 2006.
Mark the concentered hazels that enclose
Yon old grey Stone, protected from the ray
Of noontide suns:-and even the beams that play
And glance, while wantonly the rough wind blows,
Are seldom free to touch the moss that grows
Upon that roof, amid embowering gloom,
The very image framing of a Tomb,
In which some ancient Chieftain finds repose
Among the lonely mountains.- Live, ye trees!
And thou, grey Stone, the pensive likeness keep
Of a dark chambers where the Mighty sleep:
For more tan fancy to the influence bends
Where solitary Nature condescends
To mimic Times forlorn humanities.
"One large chambered cairn, at Minninglow on a high hilltop between Parwich and Elton, started life as a small mound with a chamber. It was later enveloped in a long cairn with at least four chambers entered from the sides. Later still it was enlarged again, to make it into a massive near-circular mound. There are four or five such “great barrows” in the region, each about 40m (131ft) across, which were probably the local equivalents of later Neolithic mounds such as Silbury Hill and Duggelby Howe (Yorks Wolds)."EH - Peak District John Barnatt and Ken Smith.
Around 24 x 17m in diameter and getting on for 2m high. This barrow is impressive in its own right...
But all the same it kinda struggles to get noticed with the exposed chambers of the huge Minning Low 30m away to the SE.
Like its neighbour the barrow saw of long period of use and several phases of construction.
Thomas Bateman dug the barrow in 1843 and 1849 and found that it was in fact two burial mounds, a secondary earthen barrow being built against an earlier stone cairn.
Bateman found the cairn's cist holding the primary burial had already been disturbed. A second cremation was also found.
The large earthen barrow too covered a cremation, as well as Flint knives, bone tools and burnt bronze knife or razor.
Info on finds from:
J.Barnatt's & J. Collis' "Barrow Corpus"
B. Marden's "The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire"