This short walk takes in the major sights of Stanton Moor and Birchover, an area rich in historical associations and with superb views across the surrounding countryside. It gives an interesting outing for a winter's day, or one when covering a lot of distance doesn't seem important. On the way you can let your imagination wander as you consider the Bronze Age remains and the tales of druids, witches and wizards.
The walk as described starts from a small lay-by on the B5056 opposite the track which leads up to Cratcliff Tor (gr 229619). This spot can be reached by car or by bus. Alternatively, you can save a bit of distance by starting from the bottom end of Birchover village, or you could extend the walk by starting from Elton and walking down Dudwood Lane, the line of the old Portway.
Walk about 100 metres north along the B5056 to reach a stile on the right hand side. Cross it and head steeply off up the hillside. After about 100 metres you meet a track which contours around the hill. Turn left to follow it around to the other side of the hill but don't forget to look back at the fine view of Cratcliff Tor and Robin Hood's Stride across the valley. At the other side of the hill you meet the other branch coming around the hill - fork left and take the track which heads up towards Birchover.
You soon arrive at the fantastic sight of Rowtor Rocks, an irregular jumble of gritstone blocks which have been embellished by the carving out of stone seats and steps. Most of this was done by the first incumbent of the Old Vicarage opposite, the Rev Thomas Eyre. The rocks make an excellent scramble and at the north end there is a rocking stone which can be moved with a firm push.
Descend the north end of the rocks and you emerge almost in the Druid Inn, a distinctive hostelry and an alternative starting point for this walk. From the apex of the bend in the road, almost opposite the inn sign, a path leads up through the trees and takes a wooded ridge behind Birchover village. It's hard to make out whether it's a natural ridge or just quarry spoil - probably a mixture of both.
This leads via a quarry car park onto the small road which links Birchover and Stanton. Turn left towards Stanton and follow it for about 200 metres. Then a cart track branches off to the right onto the moor, but don't take it immediately - continue along the road another 100 metres to admire the Andle or (Aigle) Stone which lies in a field below the road. There is a magnificent view of Youlgreave from here, and another up the valley towards Elton. Though there are druidic legends about these stones, this one is natural in origin and has metal rungs in it to aid ascent, plus an inscription commemorating the Duke of Wellington. It lies on private ground however.
Return to the cart track and head up onto the moor. After 200 metres you arrive at the Cork Stone - another natural stone with rungs to aid ascent. Even so, you need to have long arms! Just past this stone the path branches - take the left fork and then fork left again to follow a track which passes about 100 metres west of the trig point.
Follow this track for about 1 kilometre. It meanders around the tops of abandoned quarries with fine views of the Wye valley to Bakewell. Eventually it is forced eastwards by a fenced quarry and the track here is marked by gritstone markers in the ground. At the second fenced quarry a small path leads off right through the trees - this leads to the Nine Ladies stone circle. If you miss this path then don't worry - just continue along the track until it meets the main north-south track across the moor and turn right (south) and backtrack for a few hundred metres to the Nine Ladies.
From the Nine Ladies take the main north-south track for a few metres and then branch left (south-east) along a track which leads across the moor to the tower at the eastern edge. This commemorates the Great Reform Act of 1832 but is now bricked up and in quite poor shape.
At the tower turn right along a path which heads about south-south-west across the eastern edge of the moor - to the west of the fence which marks the boundary of the National Trust property. This path skirts the eastern edge, giving good views of the Derwent valley below until it arrives back at the boundary fence at a large natural stone - the Heart Stone. Continue in a south-westerly direction for another 200 metres and exit from the moor onto the minor road between Birchover and Stanton Lees.
Turn right onto the road and after 50 metres cross a stile and follow a path which descends to Barn Farm below. This leads into the farmyard and you must go right around the farmbuildings in a clockwise direction to exit along the farm drive. You shortly arrive back in Birchover and can retrace your steps to the start.