As the Peak District falls so the hills rise again in North West Leicestershire. Seven hundred million year old rock at degree protrudes from the ground reaching out to the sky here . Swannymote is located next to the village of Whitwick and also located on a huge tectonic lay line running North West to South East from Breedon hill to the Alter Stones in Markfield. Here as a child I found sanctuary as a child from a troubled home / school life, affinity with nature developed amongst these auspicious rocks, trees and the abundance of wild life this place lovingly nurtures. This was also a place where wise men of Leicestershire would meet, called Swains or Swans hence the name Swannymote.
Many local people come to Blackbrook Reservoir and enjoy this open space, water here is used as a drinking supply for the surround towns and villages. As children we would come here, throw ourselves off the bridge and swim, completely ignoring the ‘No swim’ signs. The area is rich in fauna; in Leicestershire were there is water I found a lot of game being bred. Along the blind corner lanes it’s been known that locals here will fight over who takes the road kill (deer,pheasant etc) home to eat!
There wasn’t any time to photograph more of these places as our stay was limited to five hours in Leicestershire.
I couldn’t key and turn the Nine ladies circle stones which felt extremely disappointing; this was largely due to the quarrying of this hillside making the ground fractured, unstable to resonate the required tectonic energy but magic still abounds about this small circle of stones attracting people from across surrounding areas to encamp and celebrate the festas of the Celtic eight fold year.
There has also been a successful nine year long land occupation in protest against Stancliffe Stones (Marshall’s) plan to reopen a fifty year dormant quarry. Extraction of sandstone from this hillside would have encroached within forty feet of the Nine Ladies Stone circle. This extracted stone was destined for export oversea to America; to build a shopping centre, how absurd!
I visited the protest camp on three occasions during the length of the nine ladies anti quarrying campaign and made a short film (activists complained they didn’t like the film) about the site in freezing mid-winter of 2006.
Stone extraction needs to be carefully monitored across the entire Peak District national park to prevent re-occurrence or emergence of similar environmental atrocities.