|Cromford, Black Rocks (or Stonnis)
During the nineteenth century the Black Rocks overlooking
Cromford were often referred to as Stonnis. Local tour guides
and booklets would describe the rocks much as Thomas Holmes
did around 1875:
"BLACK ROCKS, OR STONNIS, midway between Cromford and
Wirksworth. - From the summit of these dark gritstone rocks
most extensive and magnificent views may be obtained, for in
that species of beauty, which the landscape approaches to grandeur,
it is unequalled in Derbyshire".
The fields on the Middleton hillside behind Black Rocks
still had the same stone wall
boundaries in the 1950 image below. The sky on the original
is more of a pale lilac colour.
Rock climbing in Derbyshire developed as an outdoor pursuit
at the beginning of the twentieth century. In 1915 J.
Charles Cox observed: "It is only during the last ten
years that the crags of Derbyshire have become well known to
climbers ; but the county has now a good place on the list
of climbing districts. Wherever the gritstone crops out it
affords climbs more or less severe, but the best collection
of them is found near Matlock, viz., at Alport Stone, the Black
Rocks, and Robin Hood's Stride".
He went on to say that "the cliffs are 80 ft. high, and
the walls are either vertical or overhanging ; parts of the
face have fallen away, leaving a series of natural bastions,
five in number, all pointing due north, with gaps between of
varying width and slope". Cox observed that "they
afforded an excellent variety of climbing" and "Anyone
who can do the Stonnis crack unroped must be a first class
Below are two climbers on the Rocks around 1950. The view
glimpsed down into the valley below, past the Wirksworth road,
There are a three views from the rocks in the Matlock section
of this web site:
from the Black Rocks, overlooking Cromford Cotton Mills (the
first built in England), Willersley Castle, Heights of Abraham
and the High Tor. This is a nineteenth century
Castle and the Matlock Hills, from Cromford Hill
Varied Fortunes of a Derbyshire Spa", a 1963 magazine article
There are also references to Stonnis, or the Black Rocks on
the web site:
Guide" to Matlock, Bakewell, Chatsworth, Haddon
About Derbyshire", by Edward Bradbury.
Excursions from Derby to Matlock Bath and its vicinity; being
a Descriptive Guide".
Directory, Cromford, 1858
1. Postcard "Black Rocks, Wirksworth", published by
Lilywhites of Sowerby Bridge. Not posted. © Ann Andrews collection.
2. "Black Rocks, Cromford, near Matlock Bath". Valentine's Series,
No.21591, Printed in Great Britain. First published in 1894.
3. Photograph of "Black Rocks, Cromford" forms
the centre pages of "Derbyshire Beauty Spots, No. 2" (about
1950), Copyright Simpson's the Printers, Friar Gate, Derby. Ann
Andrews collection. Published with the kind permission
of Michael Simpson on behalf of the Simpson family.
All information researched, provided by and © Ann
Intended for personal use only.
 Holmes, Thomas H (about 1876), "Holmes'
Guide to Matlock Bath and Neighbourhood" (booklet)
 Cox, John Charles, (1915, 2nd edition,
revised), "Derbyshire" - Illustrated by J. Charles
Wall, Methuen & Co., London.