During cold phases of the Ice Age, meltwaters from snowfields cut into the limestone surface forming valley features. When the climate changed, the volume of drainage water reduced and lacked the capacity for valley excavation. What little drainage remained now flows underground through cave and fissure systems, leaving a network of dry valleys.
The Via Gellia is a steep-sided, narrow, wooded valley running eastwards from Grangemill to Cromford. Most of the Via Gellia is a dry valley, although it does carry an ephemeral stream in wet weather. Its curious name 'Via Gellia', is thought to derive from the name of a local landowner, John Gell of Hopton, who first drove a road along the valley floor.