Peak District Mining Heritage Walks, Field Meets, and Underground Mine Trips

Featured

Here are the guided walks, field meets, and underground mine visits we currently have planned for the next few months in the Derbyshire Peak District. Do keep checking back here, as more walks and underground trips will be added to the list. Walks/meets are organised by the Society, the Museum, and by the Underground Exploration group, with slightly different logistical arrangements: see below.

If you want to find out more information about any of our guided mining and industrial heritage walks, contact Adam at meets@pdmhs.com.

The schedules will usually be updated quarterly, when each newsletter is published.

Online calendars are now available:
https://tinyurl.com/pdmhs-meets-webcal
https://tinyurl.com/pdmhs-meets-ical

Mining Museum Heritage Walks

Sturdy footwear and waterproofs recommended. Walks always end near a pub! Tickets are £3 from the Peak District Mining Museum; pop in or phone 01629 583834. Walks are open for anyone to join, well behaved dogs on leads welcome.

5th July 2022 (7pm) – Stanton in the Peak.

2nd August 2022 (7pm) – Alport Mining field (surface only).

6th September 2022 (6.30pm) – Bakewell Chert Mine (surface only).

Society Field Meetings

Walks/meets organised by the society are free, and are open to all (not just PDMHS members, although you might like to join PDMHS.). However, pre-booking is required when walks are limited to a certain number of people, and contacting us in advance is recommended.

The format of some Society Field Meetings will sometimes be very similar to Museum Heritage Walks, but we might spend a little longer discussing interpretation, and participants other than the leader are likely to chip in their knowledge, as well as asking questions. Society Field Meetings are definitely not “just for experts”, and any meets which involve more than walking around on the surface looking at the remaining features and learning about the history will be clearly indicated as such.

As the walks are weather-dependent, changes due to weather conditions will also be posted on the website; it is advisable to check back here before you set out.

Finding and Exploring with Your Phone

Meet at Magpie Mine at 7pm on Tuesday 12th July. Leader: Adam Cooper

We will use the Magpie Mine site and surrounding area as a “playground” to learn more about using GPS-enabled mobile phones for fieldwork, both finding known features and for recording observations. The aim of the day will be to gain some practical experience and to better understand what this kind of software is good for (and what it is not good for).

The focus will be on using the Android app “SW Maps” (softwel.com.np/download_software), although participants are welcome to give a show-and-tell about apps which they use.

You should install SW Maps and copy several files to your phone before the meet. The required files will be sent by email on request to arc@hilltop-cottage.info.

Matlock and Matlock Bath: Geology and mining and some quarrying (part 2)

Sunday 9th October. Leader: Lynn Willies

Meet at 12.30 with cars at Spa Road (leads to Snitterton from Sainsburys Petrol Station (a few yards from the last-time meeting place. We will distribute cars so some are left there, whilst others take the party to the start, parking just before the highest point on Salters Lane, near Jugholes and the road on towards Masson Quarry. From there we will walk to the quarry, and on over Crichman and High Loft Mines and Great Rake, paralleling Spar Veins, above Masson Cavern. Then through the woods to Ember and Coalpit Rake (Devonshire Cavern). Then via Upperwood, past Hopping Pipe, and Tear Breeches Steps and down the Wapping, past Cumberland Cavern and Wapping Mine. This will take us to Masson Mill where we can pick up a bus back to Matlock bus/train interchange, and a short walk to the cars.

This will be an easy, largely downhill, walk but some rough ground, so boots and weatherproof clothes.

We should see excellent mineralisation controls, follow the course of the Masson Pipe, an abandoned fluorspar mine c. 1970, possibly a buddle, the upper opencast and mine entries on Coalpit Rake, the Monks Wall, more spar mining remains and as well as the fine views, the locations and entries to Matlock’s major mines.

Contact: Lynn Willies (01629-584322)

Underground Exploration Group

Underground mine trip in Maury Sough © Martin LongOur underground mine trips are organised by the PDMHS UEG (Underground Exploration Group), which is free to join for PDMHS members. Insurance is compulsory for those going on underground trips, but the UEG can arrange this if you don’t already hold BCA insurance. Meeting times/places for UEG meets may be found in the members’ newsletter or by contacting the UEG.

You can contact the UEG here.

Bull Tor Rummage, Cressbrook

Sunday 17th July 2022. Leader: Adam Cooper

Observations & Discoveries 77 (newsletter 179) reported a recently rediscovered mine site with an intriguing level entrance which was not explored. The sound of falling water could be heard within and in 1948, Nellie Kirkham described the site as “quite promising” but didn’t have a good enough light to explore (and seemingly never returned).

The aim of this trip will be to: visit the surface remains previously noted; to investigate the level entrance; and to look around for things which were previously missed. Those wishing to take part in any underground exploration must have BCA insurance.

For further details email ueg@pdmhs.com with Bull in the subject line.

Gell’s Mine, Via Gellia

Sunday 14th August 2022. Leader: Martin Long

A continuation of the winze recording in Gell’s Mine.

Those descending the winzes will need to be competent SRT practitioners, though non-SRT roles are also available.

For further details email ueg@pdmhs.com with Gell’s in the subject line.

Mouldridge Mine, Pikehall

Wednesday 7th September 2022. Leader: Paul Chandler.

An easy grade, dry trip, ideal for novices but also of interest to more experienced explorers. Quite a complex, but compact mine on different levels. The passages are mostly walking or stooping size, with very little crawling! An optional challenge is the ‘ore chute’ squeeze! A great little mine, a fun trip and one of my favourites! Evening trip. Eight places available. Preference will be given to novices & new members. Meeting time/place will be supplied when you book. Please email ueg@pdmhs.com to book or Tel: 07908-607513 (text is best). Optional drinks after the trip at the Miners’ Standard Inn, Winster.

Deep Ecton Mine, Staffordshire

Sunday 18th September 2022. Organiser: Martin Long

See the Heritage Open Days article in newsletter 183 for full details.

To register as a volunteer please email ueg@pdmhs.com with Ecton in the subject line.

Pretoria Chert Mine, Bakewell

Tuesday 20th September 2022. Leader: Paul Chandler.

One of the premier mines in the Peak District and you will see why if you attend, it is truly ‘special’! An evening trip to explore this fascinating mine, with its impressive packwalls, artefacts, and in places, more holes than rock! An easy grade, dry trip, which is suitable for novices, entry to the mine involves a 15ft(5m) fixed ladder climb, so a belt or helmet mounted light is essential, boilersuit or old clothes will be fine. The passages are mostly large walking size, steeply inclined in places. An optional short crawl leads into another section of the mine, with a colourful surprise at the end! Well worth bringing a camera/smartphone. Eight places available. Meeting time/place will be supplied when you book.

Please email ueg@pdmhs.com to book or Tel: 07908-607513 (text is best).

Reference:

Mining History (PDMHS) Vol.19, No.6 (2017).

Holmebank Chert Mine, Bakewell

Wednesday 5th October 2022. Leader: Paul Chandler.

An evening trip which is ideal for novices. Further details will be in the October 2022 Society Newsletter.

Wapping Mine/Cumberland Cavern, Matlock Bath

Tuesday 18th October 2022. Leader: Paul Chandler.

An evening trip which is ideal for novices. Further details will be in the October 2022 Society Newsletter.

 


Updated: Adam Cooper, June 12th 2022

Smeaton and Watt: unleashing the power that changed the world

steam engine drawingThe 2019 Smeaton Lecture is taking place on 23rd July at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London. The title is “Smeaton and Watt: unleashing the power that changed the world”. 

“The 18th century saw unprecedented advances in our ability to harness power. Much of this was down to James Watt whose invention of the separate condenser and other improvements to the Newcomen engine was the key that unlocked the full potential of the power of steam. Watt then mastered rotative power for factories, accelerating the industrial revolution. Smeaton had also made improvements to the Newcomen engine and he and Watt shared a mutual respect.

This year’s Smeaton lecture will explore this relationship with the help of some letters, not previously published or archived, and uses engineering hindsight to explore the factors influencing successful innovation – then and now.”

Full details of the lecture can be found here.

Froggatt Wood Lead Smelter Walk Report

This walk took place on Wednesday May 22nd, and was a gentle 3 mile evening walk to look at a early lead smelter hidden in the heart of Froggatt Wood. 

The walk had been arranged at short notice to coincide with the bluebells still being out in Hay Wood and Froggatt Wood – a fantastic sight with their lovely scent being an added bonus in the still evening air.

Froggatt Wood smelt mill © Jill Hulme

The gritstone channel which fed the water wheel

Apart from the walk leader, none of the other people who met near the Grouse Inn had ever been to the smelter before – and even the leader had only first visited it a week before. This is not surprising, as the site is well hidden in the woods away from the main footpath, and was quite overgrown until the National Trust (who own the land) did some scrub clearance work there recently. It’s now much easier to see the site’s features. The site is a Scheduled Monument and the Historic England listing for it states: “The Froggatt Wood smelt mill is one of the very few 16th-17th century smelt mills in England to retain any standing structures. The water channel and wood-drying kiln are unique within the lead industry, and the survival of an undisturbed complex of this date, with a wide range of features, is very rare”.

White coal kiln, Froggatt Wood lead smelter. Photos © Jill Hulme

The kiln was used for producing “white coal” fuel for smelting the lead

We were met at the mill by PDMHS member David Dalrymple-Smith, whose website Baslow History was where the walk leader first found out about the site’s existence. David gave us a tour of the site, which includes part of the structure where the water wheel was situated – fed by water coming down a beautiful gritstone channel. As we returned to the main path, we passed part of a large gritstone mould for making pigs of lead, and the nearby stream contained lots of pieces of slag. Very little information about the smelt mill’s history exists, but more information about what can still be seen at the site today can be found on the National Trust’s heritage website here.

Stream in Froggatt Wood © Jill Hulme

The stream contained plenty of pieces of lead slag

The path we then followed used to be one of the major packhorse routes up the Derwent Valley, and there were several places where the original gritstone paving was still clearly visible. The woods have obviously been the site of much industrial activity in previous centuries. Evidence of gritstone quarrying was everywhere, and David also showed us a curious little pond – obviously man-made – whose purpose is unknown.

Two of our walkers left us at Froggatt village, while the rest of us went up an old quarrymen’s track to Froggatt Edge. We emerged at a former millstone quarry, where there are still nearly a dozen millstones lying around – including some of the older domed types. In the quarry face itself, we examined some inscriptions – including one with the date of 1622. On the top of Froggatt Edge was plenty more evidence of quarrying, and also some very intricately carved C19th inscriptions in the gritstone boulders. 

By now it was past sunset, but we were treated to a beautiful sky as we walked back along the Edge towards the start point. On our way, we saw 9 red deer at quite close quarters, and also a pair of nightjars. A fine end to a good walk which everyone enjoyed.

Thanks to Jill Hulme for allowing us to use her photos.

Matlock Cable Tramway Walk Report

Sunday 28th April dawned a pleasant day after the horrendous weather of the previous day. Nine of us met Paul Chandler at the picnic site / car park in Darley Dale. We started off towards Warney Mill, a former corn water mill. This was acquired by one Herbert Harding from Matlock and used as a caravan site. He later sold furniture direct to the public. On Sundays the items were included in an expensive pound of carrots to work around the then Sunday trading laws. The site is now better known as DFS. 

Continue reading

Museum Heritage Events

The Peak District Lead Mining Museum (part of PDMHS) hosts Derbyshire Heritage Events and offers Guided Heritage Walks in Derbyshire – for dates, times, costs and other details please check the Museum Web Site news page or their Facebook page.

The guided heritage walks are led by local expert Tony Wood and others. Tickets must be purchased in advance from the Peak District Lead Mining Museum in Matlock Bath. Not only does Tony have an extensive knowledge of local lead mining history, but also the people and places. His walks have usually been sold out and attract many “repeat visitors”. You can buy tickets in person at the Museum (check the Museum web site for opening times) or you can email here or phone 01629 583834. Card payments can be taken over the phone for a minimum of 2 or more tickets.

Evening walks usually begin at 7.00pm and aim to finish by 9.00pm. The starting point will be given when you purchase your tickets. 

In addition to walks organised by the Museum, PDMHS also operates a series of free heritage walks and underground trips. For underground trips, BCA public liability insurance is mandatory – this can be arranged for PDMHS members by the Society’s Underground Exploration Group.

Derbyshire Heritage Talks are hosted at the Museum in Matlock Bath. Talks are on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 and cover a wide range of historical aspects of the area, including the mining heritage but also industrial archaeology, folk-lore and social history in Derbyshire. These heritage events are well attended and tickets should be purchased in advance (at the museum or by phone to 01629 583834) to avoid disappointment. For ticket prices see the museum web site.