A trickling noise gives away the presence of flowing water, the first we have encountered, since climbing Chrome Hill; but where does it go? Seemingly nowhere. In fact it plunges down a swallow hole at the bottom of that pit, whose rim is just visible from here. Get closer to the tiny stream and you will see a small pit, with a large, rusty metal disc lying in its bottom. Gently and carefully lift this by the handle and suddenly you are staring down a shaft. Unless you have come prepared for serious pot-holing, do nothing more than replace the cover. This disappearing little stream brings us to the final chapter in the story of the Dragon’s Back.
Having been built up by tiny organisms in a tropical sea, left high and dry as a playground for dinosaurs, covered by muddy shale, scoured and cleaned by ice, it is fresh water that has the final word. Ever since the retreat of the last glacier, rainwater has been exploiting small weaknesses in the rock. The water has found, found secret routes down towards the river, further eroding the rock as it travels on its journey, creating dark, underground caverns for the adventurous to explore and the perfect home, perhaps, for sleeping dragons?
Continue up the hill on the concessionary path; where it then turns sharply to the left, along a stone wall. Follow the wall until you meet the farm track (for Stoop Farm), turning right onto this, to meet the minor road. Turn right and walk about half a mile along the road down Dowel Dale. Quite deep down in the dale, just where it makes a turn to the right, take the public footpath on the left, steeply over a ridge, through an open field. Go over a stone stile and then follow the wall to emerge onto another minor road. Right onto this takes you back into Earl Sterndale and The Quiet Woman.
This trail was originally developed by Simon Corble for the Royal Geographical Society’s Discovering Britain.
Simon Corble is a theatre director, playwright and actor based in Derbyshire’s Peak District, is passionate about the countryside and discovering the hidden secrets of the natural world.