Starting from the Robin Hood carpark and pub, the well trodden footpath goes up the hill, first passing a small but identifiable ring cairn, winter being the best time to see it as it's still got its summer coat of bracken on, making it hard to find and harder to distinguish.
Then passing what I presume to be about half a dozen small cairns possibly of the clearence variety, we come to a long outcrop of rock, huge boulders stacked atop each other, nothing like Sacsayhuaman in Peru, but it still makes me think of that faraway wonder.
Passing between two standing stones guiding us to the edge, next up is the three men cairn, an odd thing without a doubt, but the mound beneath the three peaks is undoubtedly a barrow of some sort.
Then the path strolls meanderingly about the giant rocks that litter the Edge that is Gardom's, sometimes a vertigo inducing drop is just a few feet from the path, it is truly spectacular, well maybe not, that kind of statement should be reserved for places like Patagonia or the Himalayas. But it is beautiful, the colours, the clear air, darting little brown lizards, it all conjours up words close to spectacular.
Then we leave the edge and go through the hole in the wall.
This is the abode of Megs walls,pit alignments, the standing stone and two pieces of rock art one of which is covered by a replica, the other stubbornly refuses to let me find it.
From the replica, cairns can be got to between the two edges, Gardom's and Birchen edge with its little monument to Nelson on top, then its back down to the pub carpark.
Third time lucky! Twice before I’ve fruitlessly searched for this cup and ring marked stone, but given the preponderance of gritstone rocks strewn around Gardoms Edge it was like looking for a needle in a huge pile of needles. Today I’ve got Andrew Johnstone’s rather excellent ‘Prehistoric Peak’ book with me, which gives excellent directions and maps, and once we had arrived back at nearby standing stone we fanned out and walked back along the edge of the woodland, where just before coming level with the Nelson monument atop Birchen Edge across the moor a likely looking large flat stone became visible.
On the edge of the trees, long afternoon shadows pick out the intricate inscribed whorls and indentations of the cups and rings on the stone. I know the visible stone is a fibreglass copy, but it’s done so well, the naturalistic colouring and speckling of lichens giving it an uncanny realism, only broken if you tap the stone. Normally I’d be in two minds about such a replica, but the fact that the original stone is still here albeit buried out of sight, and the quality of the reproduction means that things seem to work, and the original location means you don’t lose the context of the placement as you would if the stone had just been unceremoniously dug out to be placed in a museum.
The patterns on the stones are intricate and intriguing, and some the best I’ve seen in Derbyshire, so I’m glad the decision to protect them this way was made. I don’t suppose we will ever know what inspired someone several thousand years ago to take the time to carve out these markings, but they still hold the power to make us wonder today, and enjoy the beautiful surroundings in which they are set.
It’s a pleasant place to sit by the stone, whilst Ellen sketches the designs, and the sun sinks lower, bringing the motifs into even sharper relief. I’m so pleased to have finally found the place, the efforts have been worth it, and after enjoying the rock art there is nothing else for it but to head back to the Robin Hood Inn for a celebratory pint of Hobgoblin before heading for home after a great day out.
Last time I was here was in the gloaming of a summer evening after a frustrating couple of hours searching for the nearby rock art, and when the stone hove into view after my fruitless search it was an ample consolation prize. Today things are a bit more relaxed though. After a nice lunch at the nearby Robin Hood Inn (lovely veggie quiche) a walk up Gardoms edge past the Three Men cairns, brought us to the woodland where lurks the stone.
Easily hidden amongst the trees, we nevertheless managed to find the stone with a little searching. It’s an interesting menhir, charismatic and bent over like a stooped old hag as you approach through the birch trees, whilst deep curved erosion of its other face gives it a raddled aspect.
Long afternoon shadows only add to the atmosphere, but the closely surrounding trees make it difficult to discern the orientation from the penumbra of the stone, so whether it was selected to act a gnomon for a sundial, or merely because it had a distinctive shape is something for conjecture.
It’s a fine stone whatever it may have been used for, and certainly worth a visit amongst the fine walks and rich archaeological heritage of Gardoms Edge.
"The story was that 'Meg' the witch or fortuneteller, was driven out of the village and lived near this wall, or near the Nelson Monument, and that the wall was named after her. But 'Meg' is probably one of the usual excuses offered in clerical-medieval days to explain away the credit for remarkable works made by primitive, or pagan, man...........'Meg' however, is also Greek for big, or great, i.e megalith for big stone.
From the 'Sheffield Clarion Ramblers' 1942-3 by G.H.B Ward.
[visited 30/6/12] I tried to find this before, just following Stu's instructions on here and failed, giving up after an hour or so. This time I was better armed with an 8 figure grid ref and a GPS which got me to within 10 metres of the stone, a quick search of the vicinity then proving fruitful! As it turns out I got witin 50 metres last time and decided against trying yet another last group of trees. If I had persisted I probably would have found it last time. Stu's instructions are basically sound, I'd clarify them by adding what I thought first time was the wide peat gulley wasn't, the gulley we want being closer to Birchen Edge just before the land starts to climb again.
The stone isn't very imoressive but worth a look if you are up here. It looks like it was perhaps part of a larger piece and has been broken off. The carvings are visible but quite weather worn.
Access is possible from a few directions, the North-East being perhaps most accessible though I haven't approached from that direction.