There must be a hundred or more places amongst the landscapes of the Peak District National Park and South Yorkshire that could be rated as my ‘favourite’.However the one I have selected isn’t a valley, peak, river, or traditional ‘honeypot’ location. Rather it is a small hole in the gritstone of the Stane Edge.
I have history with caves (albeit not in a speleological way).. Growing up i was an avid reader of the literature of adventure, I came across the story of Millican Dalton. Fed up with the ‘rat race’ in 1903, Dalton,a pacifist, vegetarian, teetotaller, gave up his London based life as an insurance clerk and went to live in Borrowdale, Cumbria, in what become known as ‘The Cave Hotel’ high up on the slopes above Grange. From there he offered camping and adventure holidays, and is widely regarded as one of the first providers of professional outdoor instruction in this country. His business cards described him as the ‘Professor of Adventure’. I spent a Summer in the early 90’s as a resident of the ‘Hotel’. It offered shelter, quiet, and a place to order ones thoughts. Those qualities are also available at my local favourite place – Robin Hoods Cave. Place name and associated legend abound in the countryside, and the origins of RHC are suitable clouded in folklore. Ws Robin Hood ever there (noting the grave of his sidekick in nearby Hathersage ?), or did George Eyre, the long term tenant of North Lees, rename Sled House to fit in to the fantasy of Robin Hood and Little John. The pre-enclosure map of the Edge shows the Cave as Sled House. Sleds were used to bring peat and stone from the Edge to Hathersage.
For clarity, and I know the old maps include the belevedere as part of the Sled, and ergo part of the Cave, I think of the Cave as being the triangular shaped hole in the crag that, if you’re a climber, ‘Tea Leaf Crack’ VD goes to the mouth of. I’m not convinced Robin and John would have hidden very well on the gritstones shelves off to the right !
In the Summer months, as i womble along the Edge, i’ll climb down to the cave and have to climb out with a bin bag full of the detritus of barbecues and such like, such is the popularity of the cave. Climbing has taken place on the Edge since late Victorian times, and it is likely that the humans used the caves there as far back as Neolithic times. Some residents are just less respectful of the cave than others. If i had to pick favourite times to be in the favourite place it would be either, outside of the key climbing season, waking from a bivvy to sit on the lip of the cave with a brew and watching the wildlife, or perhaps in really foul winter weather, ensconced in lots of layers watching the rain or snows lash the Edge. I was there on a few of the storm-with-a-name weekends of late, brew in hand, busy doing nothing ….