With Spring seemingly having arrived the pull of getting out and about to visit some megaliths proved irresistible. Even better was the fact that Five Wells was somewhere I’d never been before. Not sure why it had taken me so long to visit, I’ve been coming to the peaks for the last twenty years, but perhaps Mr Cope’s terse directions of ‘requires an OS map’ in the big papery TMA had put me off in the past, possibly expecting the requirement of advanced navigation skills, or at the very least somewhere safe to leave the car. Today I’m armed with Andrew Johnstone’s terrific ‘Prehistoric Peak’ book, and its detailed directions and map make finding the place a piece of cake.
Traveling east on the A6 towards Ashton in the Water, a right turn into a lane (opposite the sign for Beech Croft Lane Caravan Park, if you get to the brown sign for Tideswell you’ve gone too far!) takes you to the Taddington recycling centre, which although operational is now fortunately nice and tidy, rather than the open sore of a landfill described in much earlier fieldnotes. Here it’s easy to park right by the start of the footpath which leads up to the hill to the chambered tomb.
It’s an impressive place, another of those hidden delights of the Peak District, and I berate myself for not visiting it before. High on its hill the substantial remains of the mound which once covered the tomb spreads out around the two chambers which remain, still giving a good impression of the circumference of the tomb in its pomp. The craggy grey stones of the uprights looking suitably time worn and ancient, nevertheless provide an excellent shelter, as I sit within the surprisingly comfortable eastern chamber to write some fieldnotes.
The construction of this place reminds me of a smaller scale Bridestones, perhaps due to the portal stones flanking the chamber, although the setting at Five Wells is much more open and airy.
As the wind feels its way around the outside of the chamber providing a soothing soundtrack, I remain snug inside with a thermos of coffee, and feel a real sense of peace and tranquility. A skylark hovering overhead serenades me, and there is something about this place, nicely situated away from it all, that seems to encourage a sense of introspection, and a feeling of being at one with the elements (or perhaps it just my old hippy sensibilities coming to the fore). It’s certainly helped by the fine blue skies today and an actual touch of warmth from the sun when out of the wind.
Views from up here are lovely, although the quarry to the north is still a bit of a blot on the landscape, but it’s nice to see that after reading the early fieldnotes about this place, how the surrounding environment and access has improved, and somewhere as special as this really deserves it.
There’s a real sense of the quickening of Spring today and of life returning to the land, and there's no better place to experience it than at Five Wells.
Visited August 2009. The site was somewhat overgrown and it was difficult to see the position of anything other than the main cist. We walked up from Chelmorton, but you could easily drive quite close to the site from the lane going past Five Wells Farm. A peculiarity of access to the site is that when you follow the line indicated by the (now broken) finger post, you need to go *past* the site maybe 50 yds to a gateway which isn't obvious as you approach, meaning the temptation is to scramble over a collapsed drystone wall - I'm sure the farmer would rather you didn't!
You don't quite get a 360 degree view now, but when the mound was there you would have done from the top.
I was up there this week and must say that it was a real joy. The footpath from the end of the tarmaced road at SK120705 is now clearly signposted and there is no longer any sight and certainly no smell of the former landfill site! The tomb itself was looking majestic and well cared for by the landowner and the national park - lets dream of the same happening elsewhere!!
Not difficult to find thanks to a number of homemade wooden signs, you can see where you're heading as this place is so high up. The remaining two uprights of the best preserved chamber peep up above the drystonewalls as you approach. But it's not until you're virtually on top of it that you realise just what a whopping great mound this must have been not so very long ago.
Someone had already been to the tomb when we got there, for a small fire had been lit at the back of the main chamber. The farmer had dumped some empty chemical canisters in there and Moth discovered a dirty nappy, recently dumped.
What a shame that such a special place should be so disrespected.
Five Wells has two chambers - the western facing chamber is battered about and only the two portal stones remain. Collapsed against each other the southern stone looks like it has been snapped in half, the rest of the chamber is either buried or has been smashed and removed. What is left is the gorgeous eastern chamber with a pair of 1.5 metre portal stones, flanking slabs about 2 metres in length with a smaller stone forming the back of the chamber which is as about a metre wide inside. I can't imagine anybody resisting the temptation to sit inside the chamber and contemplate the meaning of life, which is probably why somebody has put a layer of gravel on the floor of the chamber - it must have got pretty churned up over the years. The whole thing would have been covered with a mound of earth and could well have had a kerb of stones, all of which was removed in the 19th century partly by antiquarian excavations and partly for building material although the chambers still stand on a small raised mound.
One thing you can't miss of course are the views north across the Wye Valley and Chee Dale, luckily for me there was no sign of activity in the quarry and the place was beautifully peaceful with just a few cows grazing in the distance. I couldn't help noticing cow pats covering the field between the stile and the site itself, so be aware that you may have to fight your way through bovine beasties to get here. Well worth it though.
[visited 19/5/3] - What a lovely site. Ignoring the rape of the landscape from the mines, the views are tremendous & the ambiance just right. I parked at the start of the Five Wells farm track & walked the 10 minutes across the fields, setting myself up nicely for the landscape to open up in front of me as I reached the summit. When you are at the site, stand on the mound and rotate 360 degrees, warmed the cockles of my heart that sight!
I live at Fivewells Farm and know how bad the tip smells! The good news is it's closing soon, possibily by Easter 2003. There will be no more refuse tips in the Peak Park. On quarries, as much as you may not like them, they provide employment for myself and at least 3 generations of my family. Quarrying has existed here since at least Roman times. The quarry in the picture is actually Tunstead Quarry, the largest limestone quarry in Europe. Many others in view have actually closed. These provide valuable wildlife sites which include peregrine falcons.
Five Wells chambered tomb is the highest Megalithic tomb, at 1440ft above sea level. There's a reconstruction of it in Buxton Museum.
The good news is - there is now a right of access to Five Wells! Go to the end of Pillwell Lane (off the B-road from Chelmorton to Flagg) and follow the news signposts.
About time! From the chambered tomb you can see Minninglow, Eyam Moor (Wet Withins), Stanton Moor, and - unfortunately - the rape of the Mother that is the refuse tip and Topley Pike Quarry. Grrr!
This is a fantastic site and should definitely not be ignored on a visit to Derbyshire. Five Wells commands superb views for miles around although is a little tricky to find (at least in my experience!) and an OS map will definitely be helpful. Travel on the A6 towards Buxton (from Bakewell) look out for a right hand turn towards Priestcliffe. A little further up the road you will see a pub (on the left hand side, I forget the name) About 600yds past the pub there is a rough layby with a farm track.Park here. Walk up the track (it leads to a refuse tip) about 600yds until you see a group of mounds resembling Tumuli in the field to your immediate left. Head for the said mounds and start to climb the hill, its hard going but keep going until you reach the highest point.You should be able to see Five Wells by now, if you cant then my directions are obviously crap!
Sitting just sitting on a sunny summers day high above the Peak District her patchworked soft rounded beauty laid out before me.
The ancient slumbering stones behind me like frozen surf. An entrance to the Otherworld where centuries seem like minutes and if you drink the wine you have to stay for ever.
The name, "Five-Wells," has arisen from the circumstance that in the vicinity, five fields so abut upon a spring that each has a drinking-place or "well supplied therefrom. The name is also applied to a farmhouse near.
From John Ward's 'Five-Wells Tumulus, Derbyshire' in the Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist (1901). He describes his excavations of the site.
'Archaeological notes made by Captain Francis Dubois Lukis, H. M. 's 64th Regiment, during a visit to Buxton, Derbyshire, in 1865.' in 'Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist.'
This detailed article is illustrated, and also includes text from Mr Bateman, who did one of his lightning excavations years before. The 'kind farmer' who'd lived there for 24 years couldn't remember the place being previously examined. I'm not really surprised.