On the Edge at Stanage

For those of you that follow my photographic journey, you may recall that although the UK’s first National Park, the Peak District is my closest, being no more than 30 minutes from my home I rarely venture into the park just for photographs.  However two weeks ago on the spur of the moment, I decided to head-out there with the intention of visiting Mam Tor and walking along the ridge.  It was the day before Storm Ali hit the UK so it was rather blustery.  As I approached the area the weather suddenly changed to look rather threatening although in the distance it looked more promising.  I decided to try Stanage Edge with stunning views of the Dark Peak moorlands and the Hope Valley. The gritstone edge stretches for approximately 4 miles and was featured in the 2005 version of the classic film ‘Pride & Prejudice’ starring Keira Knightley.

Parking at Hook’s Car I took the direct route on the well-trodden path which is easy to follow up onto the Edge. This being a spur of the moment outing I hadn’t planned photo locations so just walked slowly along the Edge, looking for photo opportunities as I headed north-west towards High Neb although it was unlikely in the time I had that I would actually get to High Neb on this occasion.  Although Stanage is known to be windswept with the approaching Storm Ali I suspect it was more so than usual to the extent that going anywhere near the edge you had to be extremely careful. Trying to keep the camera still was also a challenge. What not using a tripod I hear you say!  I think that would have made it even more of a problem. So the secret was to try to find a sheltered location which in most instances meant trying to find a safe route down the cliff edge although even that was not ideal.

I walked as far as the Plantation and clambered down to try to find a view that would include some of the trees which were just starting to show the first signs of changing to their Autumn colours but instead came across a lone tree growing in the rock face which I thought provided a more interesting composition.  It reminded me of an image I captured on my Peak District National Parks – First Steps short notice trip when I visited the Roaches.  This can be seen along with other images from the National Park in the Peak District gallery although surprisingly this tree seems to have survived better at the moment.

Stanage Sapling

Clambering back to the top I decided to retrace my steps from where I started and beyond to the southeastern end of the Edge revisiting the opportunities I had discovered on the first leg.  At one point in trying to find a sheltered interesting view, a stumbled across what I subsequently found out to be Robin Hood’s Cave where legend states the outlaw was said to have used as a hideaway.  Access to Robin Hoods Cave is relatively easy, though care is required because you are on the edge of a rock face with a very steep drop of around 30 metres which with the buffeting wind felt rather precarious especially when also trying to take photographs.

The Hope Valley from Robin Hood’s Cave

Moving back on to the relative safety of the escarpment I approached the end and found the trig point at 457 metres which marks the second highest point on the Edge; the highest being just 1 metre higher at Nab’s End at the extreme north-west.

Stanage Edge Trig Point

I had known before my visit that one of the most sought-after images from the location was the inclusion of the millstones which in the past had been cut from the rock on site. Looking over the edge I spotted some directly below so I found my way down from the top by a rather long way round but I couldn’t see any safe alternative without spending more time in the area. Just as I was getting down to the lower level I noticed two other photographers making a beeline to the same millstones and they were quite clearly going to get there before me. The time was now late afternoon and the area was getting more popular so I decided to leave that particular shot for another day and slowly make my way back to the car park. 

Considering the late decision to make this visit I was quite pleased with the couple of hours work and it helped me to understand the location better which will be of great benefit when I return which I almost certainly will do.

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