Gritstone; Sentinels of the Moors

Gritstone; Sentinels of the Moors

Jonathan Hyde explores the ancient rock formations of the Peak District and how we are humbled by the stones that will outlive us all.


Crow Stones - Jonathan Hyde

Legs weary from hours trudging over and around the labyrinthine peat hags that snake across Bleaklow and Alport Moor, the grey line of a gritstone edge hangs on the horizon. Grinah Stones is one of many curious solid features in an otherwise barren sea of boggy heather and sphagnum moss. Lofty perches from which the land below appears deceptively smooth and easily traversed. It is only by navigating across this terrain that the ancient bedrock islands gain their reassuring stability. Sculpted over millions of years and contorted into a surreal scattering of shapes, we cannot resist naming them - Salt Cellar, Mother Cap, Big Daddy and Boxing Gloves to list but a few.

Fairbrook Naze - Jonathan Hyde

People have existed on Earth for a paper thin time frame, compared to the Eons and Ages that layered towering tomes of sedimentary rock, themselves formed from the erosion of ancient mountain ranges. 'Deep time' is unfathomably vast when viewed from our human scale. For this reason we are forever drawn to perennial rocks, a mark of strength and power against our fallible flesh. We worship them, carve our names into their sides, topple from great heights or destroy them altogether to avoid trespassing visitors on 'our' land. Perhaps it is a way of trying to dominate a foe too old to grasp, asserting our superiority for a few seconds at least. A futile attempt to leave a mark in time, knowing our finite existence.


Woolpacks - Rowan Briscoe

Mist descends on the top of Kinder Plateau. Nestled in the warren of Woolpacks with visibility at a few meters, this natural garden of bizarre sculptures takes on a moonscape quality.  Although well trodden, a playground on summer days, it is now eerily still and foreign. Scale is warped as colours fade into dull greys and browns, whilst the wind drops and distant sounds are muffled as though behind a wall. The blanket of cloud skirts only the top of the hill, and descending through it reveals a totally different view; diagonal columns of light lancing down to the valley floor, familiar and serene.

Dog Stone - Jonathan Hyde

Exploring the high moors teaches you to be flexible and patient. Myriad routes criss-cross the open access land. Desire lines become footpaths, overgrown in Summer only to be revealed again with the rot of bracken in Autumn. Direction can change any number of times as new options or hurdles appear.
However the Gritstones are ever present, standing tall and stoic amidst the waxing and waning of the land below. Frozen sentinels keeping watch over a place that bore witness to all manner of changes.
They will remain long after we have gone, comfortingly permanent in our temporal lives.                                                                                                                             
Boxing Gloves - Jonathan Hyde

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