Shrugging off Sunday morning hebetude for a rare scrap of sunshine, we’ve headed up higher than the current average height of the water table to the not quite nose bleeding heights of Robin Hood’s Stride and the Nine Stones Close stone circle. Any chance to escape flooded and boggy ground has proved futile, each step is a slog through cloying mud, a 50/50 chance of your boot coming off with involuntary slips that could easily be mistaken for an avant-garde dance craze. Eventually we looked like a cross between tramps and mud splattered yokels, finally understanding why all those hardcore walkers (not the zombie kind) wear gators.
Nelson’s amazing ability to sniff out ancient monuments and wee on them is unparalleled. It’s as though he looked it up on google maps. Today he’s dragged us past Robin Hood’s Stride through farmers fields suitable enough for the world bog snorkelling championship to be contested, eventually arriving at Nine Stones Close stone circle. Immediately apparent to anyone who can count up to 10, you only see 4 stones. I didn’t need to use the fingers on my other hand after all. This bronze age monument had more stones in the past, at least 7, and they stand against the backdrop of Robin Hood’s Stride as the tallest stones in the Peak District, some up to 2 metres high. The stones, according to local tradition, are also known as the Grey Ladies, so called because they are supposed to represent ladies who dance at midnight.
Finally trudging our way up the limestone way to the knee jarring Robin Hood’s Stride. A tor of gritstone rocks and boulders with tower like stones at each end that give a commanding and pretty view of the countryside. Legend has it that Robin Hood could stride between these two ends despite them being 15 metres apart. These formations also give rise to its other name of Mock Beggar’s Mansion. From a distance its easy to see why as they look like tower fortifications. Nowadays it’s chock-a-block with walkers, hikers, scramblers and crag-hopping rock climbers. There was a 4 year old kid free climbing his way up like he was auditioning for the role of Jack in the Giant Beanstalk. Mind you, I don’t think his parents liked it, he was embarrassing all the hardcore climbers who had all the gear and no idea.
Next time we’ll come back in the summer when it’s not so muddy. Nice walk and climb, sit on the rocks with a picnic and take in the view, lots of bronze and iron age enclosures, barrows and other formations to see from the stride.