When Gazza informed me that we were going to visit Nine Stone Close on Harthill Moor in Derbyshire my laziness detector went into overdrive. Some years earlier we visited the Nine Ladies of Stanton Moor, which proved such an undertaking that now the very mention of the word "moor" sends me into nervous convulsions! Imagine then my unbridled delight when he explained the simplicity of this undertaking while applying a cold compress to my forehead. Locating these stones could scarcely be easier. After arriving in Derbyshire follow the narrow road from Alport to Elton (known locally as Cliff Lane) until you come across Robin Hood's Stride, a large rocky outcrop easily visible on the right. You can then park in a little lay-by from where you can see the stones a short way off also on the right. Result!
The first thing you notice about Nine Stone Close is how inappropriately named it is. Hello! There are only four stones! If I was naming this site I might call it...let's see, how about Four Stone Close? If that's not daft enough the second thing you learn is that these stones are in fact a free-standing circle. How do you make a circle with four stones? Try it I bet you can't. Despite these discrepancies I was impressed with the stones themselves, which are large and quite imposing. The views of the Peak District are splendid and the site is nicely chilled despite its proximity to the little road and the obvious problems with naming and categorization.
It was left to Debs to point out that back in the Bronze Age, Nine Stone Close consisted of a few more stones (five at a guess!), which had indeed formed a circle. This assertion was confirmed by a quick look at a nearby dry-stone wall, which now contains one of the original stones. Some farmer has half-inched one of the stones and stuck it in his wall! The cheek!