Stanage Edge from the road
Stanage is the largest and most impressive of the gritstone edges. Situated on the moors north of Hathersage, and visible from miles away down in the Hope Valley, it stretches for a length of approximately six kilometres (3.5 miles) from its northern tip at Stanage End to the southern point near the Cowper Stone. At about is mid-point the edge is crossed by Long Causeway, the old Roman road from Navio (Brough) to Doncaster. It is a famous location for rock-climbing and a popular spot for walkers.
High Neb, Stanage
Stanage's situation is high and it can be snowbound in winter. For most of its length it lies between the 400 and 450 metre contours, and the rock face itself attains a maximum height of 25 metres, but for most of its length it is between 15 and 20 metres high. The high point of the main edge is at High Neb, which lies near the north end.
Goliaths Groove, Stanage
The edge is made of one of the finer gritstones and is therefore ideal for rock-climbing, and the visitor on a summer weekend will see plenty of evidence of this. The climbers have given the sections of the edge colourful, sometimes fanciful names - Marble Wall, Crow Chin, Goliath's Groove, The Tower, The Unconquerables, Mississippi Buttress, Robin Hood's Cave, Black Hawk, Flying Buttress area etc - and the edge currently has over 800 recorded rock climbs with more being invented every year.
Looking south down Stanage Edge
It now seems quite far-fetched to record that at one time this was a private grouse moor to which access was forbidden and the early pioneers of rock-climbing were forced to make furtive visits or bribe the gamekeepers with barrels of beer. Despite this, climbs were made here as early as the 1890s by pioneers such as JW Puttrell, joined in the early years of this century by Henry Bishop. For ten years from 1915 a small group led by Henry Kelly and Ivar Berg visited the edge to make numerous climbs. This continued through the 1930s, despite the activities of the gamekeepers.
View north from Robin Hoods Cave
However, after the second world war the floodgates opened as access got easier and more climbers visited the edge. This began with Peter Harding's ascent of Goliath's Groove in 1947 and gathered pace in the 50's with the appearance of legendary figures such as Joe Brown and later, Don Whillans. Climbing standards made a great leap forward, and the sport gained more adherents, leading to its present popularity.
Stanage is now suffering from its popularity. The edge, which once had heather and bracken to its foot and heather in many of the cracks, has had much of its vegetation worn away with erosion occurring around it, and many of the more popular climbs are becoming quite polished through the ascent of many climbers.