|The way to Chrome Hill|
How pleasant it is to park for free. No parking attendants lurking in Longnor. The local farmers would probably drive them out with pitchforks. I found a space on the old cobbles of the market square and set off hiking, over the ridge and into the Upper Dove Valley. The title of the walk is simply "Chrome Hill" even though the route was six and half miles long with various other sights to see. Chrome Hill, a toothy mass of limestone, guards the top end of the valley. Here the word "chrome" has nothing to do with the metal of that name. It is believed it comes from an Old English word - "croom" meaning both "curved" and "crooked".
|View of Dowall Hall from Chrome Hill's summit|
What is quite astonishing and probably as hard to take on board as the breadth of our universe is the geological history of Chrome Hill. Around 340 million years ago - give or take a couple of million - during the Carboniferous Age, Chrome Hill was submerged beneath a warm tropical ocean. Over thousands of years, it grew tiny animal by tiny animal to become a massive coral reef. Yes - a coral reef! Geologists, palaeontologists and indeed observant walkers have found much calcified evidence of ancient reef life on Chrome Hill. And yet it sits in the middle of England, miles from the sea.
|Limestone cave on Chrome Hill|
I saw a limestone arch and a cave where sheep will sometimes shelter and I thought of the ancestors of marine life we know today - swimming or lying in wait amidst these rocks - millions of years before human beings evolved from apes. We've only been around about 200,000 years but Chrome Hill - well it was a jagged hill, high and dry for a long, long, long time before the first caveman said "Ug!". Mind you, current evidence suggests it was most likely a cavewoman!
|Natural arch or an eye looking back 340 million years|