Posted by: lensweb | August 31, 2015



Sat Aug 29 Birchen Edge – a circular walk (5 miles) in heather season with fine views, a variety of antiquities and different types of woodland. The walk is strenuous with steep, rocky & uneven ground. Bring a packed lunch.

Meet 10.30am at car park close to The Robin Hood Inn, just outside Baslow, on the Chesterfield Road (A619). There is a charge (NT & RSPB members free).


Grid ref SK 280 722    Nearest postcode DE45 1PU

Leader   Marion Bryce and Adrian Orrell

Our day started at Aldi where we stocked up with salad snacks for our healthy heather expedition. A smooth drive up to Baslow where we met LENS at the Birchen Edge car park. One last drink of coffee and off we set to the stony uphill track to the edge.


Lime green trefoil leaves of woodsorrel are an ancient woodland indicator species, have you tasted them? The cracked corky tiles on the trunks of dusky birch invite inspection. Were all the leaves diamond shaped? Why weren’t the twigs hairy? Was the dancing leaf canopy delicate and fine and dusky?

The white yarrow flowers of sneezewort stood tall in a wet flash with marsh thistle. Then we saw the yellow pea flowers and the birdclaw seeds of greater bird’sfoot trefoil. Tiny blue flowers and trailing stems were creeping forget-me-not, Myosotis secunda and from the buttercup family, lesser spearwort sprawled amongst soft and jointed rush. Dark green pennies scattered liberally low around were the nasturtium-like leaves of marsh pennywort. Eagerly we looked forward to our next boggy patch but helmeted figures clinking up the trail beguiled our youngest member who merrily scampered to join the party of rock climbers, fortunately he had taken the walkie talkie with him.


More treasure! Marsh violet, carnation sedge, bog stitchwort, heath woodrush and compact rush with white moth pupae projecting from the brown florescence like petals. Sensory Immersion in viridian bracken and back to the fine bents and wavy hair grass spangled with gold Maltese crosses of tormentil by the trodden path.

Are you receiving me? Our youngster makes contact, ‘Meet you at Nelson’s monument’.  A short push up the steep path and scramble over the gritstone edge and we have reached purple heaven.

birchen edge

Photo pause. We are now puffing perfumed pink pollen, heather or ling, Calluna vulgaris


Three ships arrest us, Victory, Defiant and Soverin and in their massive rocky shelter we find the missing boys, eating. Wind blowing our hair we smile for the group photo, touch history at the 1805 sandstone monument to Admiral Lord Nelson and marvel at the scene. Panoramic viewing unwound to Curbar edge and Chatsworth’s Jubilee Woodland, Eagle Rock on Baslow edge with Wellington’s monument hidden behind. Just before we descend to Gardom Wood Adrian spots his FIRST EVER common lizard in a tuft of purple moor grass, smooth black speckled olive skin, pale pink flushed belly gliding through grass stems.

The wood is cool and swallows our clamour,  gravely our eyes understand a low table rock art form of cup and pin, rough to our touch and strangely warm.

rock art

Shrug off that weird feeling and look for the season stone, camouflaged grey and leaning among the grey upright birch trunks. On midsummer day no shadow is cast.


Time for lunch, again, seated on a warm weathered log photographing a hyperactive kidney spot ladybird.


Walking to the wall our muted feet sink in soft cushions of the brightest green, Polytrichum commune, common hair cap moss sending up brown spore smoke signals.

On Gardom Edge, ill formed grindstones and troughs are abandoned by a grassy incline.  An orange tip butterfly is a bright jewel on fern fronds and a huge black and bristly yellow eyed tachinid fly tumbles through the sward.

tach meme

Down a sandy track we search for tiger beetles.

tiger meme

It is dark below the precipitous boundary and birch crowds between gritstone boulders, screening an ancient forge and furnace with quenching pits. Among twisted oak grotesques we meet the king of the forest, centuries old sessile oak.


Heading home, a cross marks the spot of a hermits cave, with a hole for the chimney.


Of the old quarryman’s cottage nothing remains but shaft holes in the steep rock face and a heap of large rectangular shaped gritstone bricks. Stone tiles have tumbled off the roof of White Moor Farm leaving gaping holes, history erased by time and weather.

Are you receiving me? Are you receiving me? Radio silence. Bathed in sunshine we await the children coming sitting on a root over rock amongst harebells of palest blue and pink foxglove spikes. In the distance, are 3 ships on the horizon, Victory, Defiant and Soverin.


Marion Bryce 29 August 2015


  1. Many thanks for a most readable account. I’m pleased that the day went well; sorry I could not be with you all.


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