Walkers hear tales of counterfeiting and wallabies...
THE rarely-visited Quarnford area in the isolated Staffordshire Moorlands of the Peak District was the focus of a recent 8.5-mile walk by East Cheshire Ramblers, described here by leader Barbara Jackson.
Starting from the car park at Gradbach, the party of 15 walkers set off towards Flash, at 1,519ft/464m above sea level reputedly the highest village in England and once an early centre of the Wesleyan faith.
At one time it was notorious for counterfeiting – fake coins being sold to travellers by a bridge across the River Dane at nearby Three Shire Heads (also known as Three Shires Head) at the point where Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire meet beneath Axe Edge Moor.
When the counterfeiters got wind that the police were coming they would escape arrest by crossing over the river into a different county, hence the expression “flash money” and their ringleader being known as “Flash” Harry.
The walk continued through beautiful countryside to Roach End, where binoculars were out in the hope of catching sight of a wallaby – the last surviving descendant of five marsupials that were released in 1940 from the menageries of local landowner Henry Brocklehurst when wartime rationing forced the closure of private zoos.
Although it is thought all have since died out, reports of sightings still occur.
The most recent was in April this year.
Continuing along the ridge with its fantastic panoramic views, the group descended into Forest Wood past Lud’s Church – a dramatic, 50ft deep cleft in the underlying rock with steps leading into a chasm.
The route returned to the car park past the old Gradbach YHA, a former 18th century mill, which is now set to get a new lease of life as an outdoor education centre.
For details of East Cheshire Ramblers’ programme of weekend and midweek walks in the Peak District as well as other historic and scenic locations go to ramblerseastcheshire.org. uk.
●● The East Cheshires take a break on the Staffordshire Moors. Photo by ECR cameraman Andy Davies