Close up to the Dark Peak

There are lots of photos of views of the Dark Peak available on the web, but it occured to me that there wasn't much that gave you a feel for what the ground under your feet actually looked like. I've attempted to giva a feel for some of the landscape features and plants in the pictures that follow.

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Gritstone Drystone wall Peat and Gritstone
The Dark Peak area is underlain by Millstone Grit, a coarse quartz-rich sandstone that was laid down in a huge river delta. The softer layers within the gristone often weather out in this distinctive way. The entire Dark Peak is criss-crossed by drystone walls made of the local gritstone. The walls have no mortar, but are stay upright by virtue of the 'batter' of the walls - thicker at the base and thinner at the top, and the 'throughs' - large stones that tie together both faces of the wall, as well as the capstones at the top. The gritstone is quartz-rich, and when it has been in contact with the extremely acidic peat for a long period, it becomes bleached, etched and eroded, contrasting sharply with the peat - as shown by this small stone.
Pool Heather Cottongrass
The Dark Peak has extensive areas of raised blanket bog - the flat plateaus at the top of many of the hills have a thick cover of peat, which is punctuated with occasional small pools such as this. The predominant vegetation over much of the area is heather which is actively managed as a food source for the grouse, which in turn are hunted. During the summer the hills are cloaked with the bright purple blooms of the heather. Another important plant that grows in the Dark Peak is Cottongrass, so called because the seed heads resemble tiny tufts of cotton wool. Towards autumn the stems often turn this brilliant red colour at the base.
Cracked peat Lichen Red algae
In some places the surface of the peat is bare, and it often dries out into these polygonal cracks, which remain even when it becomes waterlogged again. Step on one of these and you may go in up to your knee! The gritstone rocks are home to many species of slow-growing lichen - this 6cm diameter example may have taken over a hundred years to reach this size. The startling orange colouration in this stream is not some sort of noxious industrial pollution, it is caused by a bloom af algae. I suspect the colour is mainly derived from the iron-rich water that is present in the stream.

Categories : Peak District

More Dark Peak pictures

I've been so busy over the last few months that I haven't managed to get out walking anything like as often as I would like. However over the last two weeks I have managed to get out on a couple of family walks, and a Ranger patrol as well. The weather has been glorious on both weekends, so I've managed to grab a few photos.

Longdendale Longdendale Mount Skip
View from the top of Didsbury Intake, looking east down the Longdendale valley over Torside reservoir. View from the top of Didsbury Intake, looking west down the Londgendale valley over (left to right) Rhodeswood, Valehouse and Bottoms reservoirs. View from the southern edge of Mount Skip, looking towards Tintwistle Knarr
Crowden laddow Rakes Rocks, Laddow
View over Crowden from Oaken Clough (by Laddow Rocks). In the background is the Bleaklow plateau, the two prominent gullies dissecting the edge of the plateau are Shining Clough to the left and Wildboar Clough to the right. View of Laddow Rocks from the top of Oaken Clough. The rocks are over 200 ft high - note the two tiny figures on the top, who are on the Pennine way. View up Crowden Great Brook from Black Tor. The nearest rocks are Rakes Rocks, and in the background are Laddow Rocks.
Lads Leap Didsbury Intake Valehouse reservoir
View from Lad's Leap over Torside Reservoir, with Torside Clough behind. The Pennine Way climbs up along Torside Clough onto the Bleaklow plateau in the background. View of Didsbury Intake from the south side of Valehouse reservoir. The first two photos in this entry were taken from above the rocks you can see in the centre of the skyline. View eastwards along Valehouse reservoir, from the dam wall. On the left is Tintwistle Knarr and Robinson's Moss.
Rhodeswood reservoir Pony
View eastwards along Rhodeswood reservoir (the next one upstream in the chain from Valehouse). The skyline to left of centre is Highstones Rocks, below which lies a small Roman fort. One of the residents of Deepclough, on the south side of Valehouse reservoir.
Categories : Peak District