Birchover, gateway to Stanton Moor and the Nine Ladies stone circle
Birchover is situated on the south-western slopes of Stanton Moor, close to Winster and Youlgrave with the major centres of Bakewell and Matlock nearby.
Above the Peak District village of Birchover lies the flat-topped plateau of Stanton Moor. Stanton Moor itself is steeped in history that can be traced right back to the Bronze Age. Stone circles (see the stone circles section of this web site) and burial mounds have been identified, the most famous of which is the Nine Ladies. The Bronze Age burial mounds on the moor were excavated by a local father and son team – the Heathcotes. Their finds were originally on display in the local Post Office but now reside in the Weston Park Museum at Sheffield. Nearby, there are other places of interest, some other stone circles, Robin Hood’s Stride, Cratcliffe Hermitage, Castle Ring earthwork and the remains of old lead mines … Birchover is a great area to explore on foot, bike or by car.
Part way up the main street, you will find the Red Lion pub. This is worth a visit for the well kept real ales and the view down the well in the bar! At the western end of the village lies the Druid Inn, a pub/restaurant of some renown in the region, rightly so, the food is excellent and there is always a good choice including vegetarian. Close to the Druid lie Rowtor Rocks, a small gritstone outcrop. Rowtor chapel was restored by Thomas Eyre and features earlier stonework and carvings. Romano-British and Bronze age artifacts have also been recovered from Here. Local legends suggest that Rowtor Rocks was once a Druidicial temple, hence the pub name. An exploration of the pathways and tunnels reveals post holes, rock basins and cup and ring carvings plus several chairs carved by the Eyres in the late 1680s. It’s fascinating. At the time of Eyre, 3 rocking stones were known and possibly the name is derived from the Old English for rocking stones. On Whit Sunday in 1799, 2 of the 3 rocking stones were wrecked by local youths. So nothing new there then! If you do explore Rowtor Rocks, please take great care as there are some sheer drops and slippery surfaces.
Whilst walking round Rowtor Rocks, you will notice patches of chalk since the rocks are of interest to climbers. It is a relatively small bouldering venue and faily tough problems are found, including some ‘mantles from hell’. So if mantling is your bag as a climber … get thee to Rowtor! It is less popular than the nearby Cratcliffe and Robin Hood’s Stride venues.
The name Birchover I believe translates as the place where birch trees grow on a ridge, the birches certainly abound around the village and on Stanton moor above the settlement.
As you pass through the village, you will note there are an abundance of 17th and 18th century stone cottages, most likely to have been built using stone from the quarries on nearby Stanton moor. Birchover, despite its rural setting, has been home to a thriving industry in the past, based on quarrying on Stanton Moor. Relatively recently, there has been a big protest about the re-opening and expansion of one of the quarries. This led to the establishment of a colony of environmentalists who have built homes in the trees close to the quarry in order to defend the area.Needless to say, the quarries were reopened and developed despite the protests – hopefully, at some point, the quarrying companies might shell out a bit of their profits to pay for the minor roads that their heavy lorries have damaged.