Why has this gate gone out of use? One reason is it’s dimensions are such that it is too small to accommodate modern farm vehicles. Even tractors of 50 years ago would not have squeezed through. Another is the change in use of the land. Today, the area beyond the gate is a small woodland where the adults walk their dogs and children of the parish roam and play. This has not always been the case.
The woodland forms part of a small dale called Kid Tor Dale or Kitty Dale (Kittydale) which is a dry dale or valley running down the the larger Ashwood Dale and the River Wye flowing down from Buxton to Rowsley where it joins the River Derwent. It’s also the route of the A6 trunk road. The dale illustrates part of the history of the parish in a number of ways. This is best told by starting at the bottom of the dale.
The Pickford family owned the Hall at King Sterndale. This was one entrance to the estate and beyond is a driveway to the hall.
Secondly, just beyond the gateway to the left there is a raised, overgrown area. This is the site of a lodge, built by the family. It is recorded on the Ordnance Survey map of 1885 for example and has the grid reference of SK 08720 72127.
You can explore the 19th century map here.
One of the long time parishioners tells me that not only was there a lodge, but there was a pig sty behind it too. This isn’t recorded on the maps, but there is another, smaller structure a little further up the dale.
Despite being somewhat overgrown these days, the retaining wall is still in good shape for most of its length. The image here is taken about halfway up the drive and the wall is still about 1.5m high.
This is not the end of the story of this small dale. From this point, we can turn to the right and after a few metres we reach the gateway we started at. We can double back and walk through the woodland were there is more evidence of the activities of previous generations.
There are a number of walls within the woods. These date to the time of enclosure and are typical of such walls as they run down the steep dale sides. They are showing signs of degradation and are often little more than a couple of courses of stones but can be seen in the underwood.
So there we have it, a gentle walk around the parish has revealed more of the story of King Sterndale and some of the evidence left behind which might be taken for granted.