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Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor (Stone Circle) — News

Quarry protesters win court fight

Environmentalists have won a campaign to stop quarrying at a beauty spot in the Peak District.

The Court of Appeal ruled on Friday there should be no more work at Lees Cross and Endcliffe quarries, near Matlock in Derbyshire.

Wells Museum (Holed Stone) — Images (click to view fullsize)

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Stonehenge and its Environs — News

Stonehenge centre plans unveiled

Plans for a £67.5m visitors' centre, which will help rejuvenate facilities at Stonehenge, have been unveiled.

The proposals, submitted by English Heritage, are for a single-storey building two miles from the stones.

Around 750,000 people visit Stonehenge each year, but the site's facilities have been slammed by critics who have called them "a national disgrace".

Sir Neil Cossons, chairman of English Heritage, said: "Until now, we have let our ancestors down."

He added: "If successful, this planning application will allow us to remove the worst excesses of the modern day and create a seamless downland landscape."

'Inspiring and uplifting'

The proposed new centre is the product of three years' work by English Heritage.

It will be built just outside the World Heritage site and will contain exhibitions, educational facilities and a cafe.

A new land train will take visitors on a 25-minute journey from the centre to the stones, via a series of drop-off points across the site.

The plans have been submitted to Salisbury District Council and a decision is expected in 2005.

"At last, it looks as if the millions of people who come to visit Stonehenge from all over the world will receive the inspiring and uplifting experience that they expect and the stones deserve," said Sir Neil.

A public inquiry was held earlier this year into a separate £193m scheme, which would see the busy A303 re-routed away from the Stonehenge site through a tunnel.

The findings of that inquiry are being examined by an independent planning inspector.

A report from the inspector will be used by the government to decide whether the plans get the go-ahead.

White Moor Stone Circle — Fieldnotes

Having researched the scant information available on-line about this circle, I decided to wait until the best possible weather before attempting to find it. Given the difficulty that it presented, this was a smart move.

Looking at the OS map, the footpath leading to the circle appears to skirt the edges of the Raybarrow Pool (not so much a pool as a marsh). This is very, very misleading. While the marsh may technically be at the bottom of the hill, the boggy area extends right up the slope, with the footpath cutting straight through the middle of it. When I visited on a very hot August day, the terrain was impossible to navigate. I was only able to make progress by back-tracking substantially and climbing pretty much to the top of the hill. Every other route eventually ended in marsh. Even getting up the hill was troublesome due to the heavy vegetation. I would imagine that in poor weather, this terrain could be extremely dangerous.

All in all, it took two and a half hours to get from the road to the circle. There is an alternative (but less direct) route, but I can't comment on this since I didn't have the time to check it out. On the plus side though, for the return journey, there's a path leading from the circle up the hill that borders the footpath (doesn't appear to be marked on the OS map). It's possible to follow this most of the way uphill, and then cut back down to the main path.

All in all, I'd advise great caution if attempting to visit this site. Poor weather could make this potentially life-threatening for the inexperienced walker. In good weather it's a challenge, but shouldn't be a risk if you're careful. However, it is a strenuous walk (mostly uphill), and I'd allow at least four hours for getting there and back.

For those who are up to the challenge, the reward is very much worth the effort. This is about as remote a site as I've ever seen, and the views are breathtaking. Sitting in the middle of this beautiful circle, you really feel as though you're in the middle of a wilderness - and that's no common achievment in this crowded modern-day Britain.

Deerleap Stones (Standing Stones) — Images

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Deerleap Stones (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

I was lucky enought to end up here on a glorious October day, with a fantastic view, lovely clear skies, and warm weather.

I'm not convinced of the antiquity of these stones, but the location is so stunning it hardly matters. The views out over the levels are second to none.

The stones are easy to find - park up at Ebbor Gorge, then follow the road on foot uphill. There's a couple of footpaths off to the left, and I think it was the second one that leads to the stones, which are clearly visible from the style.

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