The view back up to Minninglow from here provides a layer-cake scene through the historical use of this landscape. On the hill’s summit the prehistoric burial site; below that the natural outcrops of limestone (which provided the slabs for those tombs); then stone walls dating back to the enclosure acts of the late eighteenth century; finally the magnificent railway embankment of 1831.
But what are these huge earthworks in the foreground all about? A clue lies in the track surface we have just walked over. You may have noticed that, unlike the rest of the route, it was very sandy back there. By a happy accident, a large pocket of very valuable silica sand was discovered just below the surface of the soil and right next to the railway line.
It is part of series of such deposits, stretching in a line between here and Brassington, to the south east. The silica deposits were laid down in the hollows of the limestone by some long vanished river, during the late Miocene Era – around 10 million years ago.