Toad’s Mouth is an ill-defined area of land near Hathersage in Derbyshire, England named for a slightly modified but largely natural piece of rock called “The Toads Mouth Rock.” No one knows exactly when the toad’s eye was carved onto the rock formation (it only has one) but it has been suggested to be mesolithic in origin.
It’s unusual that a view is given a name, but if driving from Sheffield as you turn the first sharp right corner after The Toad’s Mouth Rock you are confronted with what is aptly named “Surprise View.” The vista spans two valleys, and is framed by the impressive cliff face of Mam Tor in the distance.
The other attraction of Toad’s Mouth is the millstones. There are sites where millstones and grindstones were made all around in the northern part of the Peak District but this place has hundreds of stones in all phases of completion. In the 17th to 19th centuries these stones would have been transported, by horse and cart, about 9 miles to Sheffield, some carried a further 15 miles to the inland port at Bawtry. They were then shipped down the River Idle and then via a canal dug by the Romans to the River Trent for trans shipment to the rest of the country and even as far as the Netherlands. Why so many were never finished is not known.
The millstones were ordered by benevolent local land owners during periods when many agricultural labourers were unable to find work during depressions. They hoped the stones would come in useful eventually, and they were left there because there was no point in shifting them until they knew where they would be used. That approach was often used, and a more recent example was made in the 1920s depression when Earl Fitzwilliam, a Yorkshire landowner, gave land in a Sheffield valley to make a public park. That included a huge open air swimming pool, which occupied a large number of unemployed men with spades to dig it out and line it with stone.
Know Before You Go
Park at the Surprise View Car Park. To see the Toads Mouth Rock walk down the hill towards Sheffield until the road crosses the small stream. For Surprise View and the millstones walk uphill to the sharp right hand bend. The millstones are on both sides of the road.If travelling by train use Grindleford Station and take the pleasant walk along the valley (about 45 minutes) past Padley Chapel.