- What to see
- Disability access
- Underground access
The atmospheric remains of Magpie Mine are one of the best places to visit in the Peak District and one of the top industrial heritage sites in Derbyshire. It was the last working lead mine in the Derbyshire orefield and is one of the best surviving examples in the UK of a 19th century lead mine. The mine has a fascinating history spanning more than 200 years of bonanzas and failures, of bitter disputes and fights resulting in the “murder” of three miners, and a Widows’ Curse that is said to remain to this day.
Magpie Mine is located near the village of Sheldon in the Peak District, about 5km west of Bakewell. Its Ordnance Survey Grid Ref is SK173682 and postcode DE45 1QU (please be aware that some sat-navs may take you to Sheldon village). You can also see it on Google Maps here.
The mine site is crossed by several public footpaths as well as being Open Access Land (see here for a map of Magpie Mine), allowing public access on foot at any time.
The access track to the mine from the Bakewell to Flagg road is, a private road for use only by the local farmers and PDMHS members. There is a very small amount of roadside parking – take care not to block the gateways if you park by the roadside.
Please consider alternative approaches, there are several other parking places less than 1/2 mile, 1km from the mine including Sheldon Village. The chimneys make it easy to find the mine from a distance.
Many popular Peak District walks from starting points including Ashford-in-the-Water, Bakewell, Monyash, Flagg, Over Haddon pass through the Magpie Mine site too.
Every era of working has left its mark on the Magpie Mine site. There are numerous mineshafts – all now blocked, or capped for safety – so there is no longer access to any of the underground workings. The most impressive features are the ruined Cornish Engine House which dates from 1869, and the adjacent circular chimney (built in 1840 to serve an earlier engine, but then re-used).
A similar thing happened to the Square Chimney, which was originally built in 1840 to serve a winding engine, of which all trace has now disappeared. When the horizontal winding engine (easily identified by the winding drum on the outside of the engine house) was installed later in 1869, a flue was built to connect the existing chimney to it. The Square Chimney and flue had suffered from their exposure to the weather and were in urgent need of repair, so were renovated in 2016 with the help of a substantial grant from the National Lottery.
Just in front of the Cornish Engine House is the 728ft deep Main Shaft, marked by the steel headgear and cage dating from the mine’s last phase of operation in the 1950s. On a bright day it may be possible to look through the grille on the Main Shaft and see the water over 500ft below (the lower part of the shaft is flooded). The mine is drained by a sough (drainage tunnel) which emerges over a mile away on the south side of the River Wye (at Grid Ref SK180698) about 1½ miles west of Ashford-in-the-Water, just upriver from the Bobbin Mill and its bridge over the River Wye. It still discharges about 4-6 million gallons of water a day. The corrugated iron shed housed the winder and has the distinction of being one of only three corrugated iron buildings in the country to be accorded Scheduled Monument status.
North of the Cornish Engine House is the circular powder house (1840), whilst to the east a replica horse gin has been erected on the Redsoil Engine Shaft. Another gin circle can also be seen at the western extremity of the site, serving the original Shuttlebark Engine Shaft (1760).
The Agent’s House and adjacent Smithy were built in the 1840’s. They have been renovated, and are now used as the Field Centre of the Peak District Mines Historical Society. Except on Heritage Open Days or by prior arrangement, neither of these buildings are open to the public, but Society members wishing to use them should contact the Cottage Warden. Guided tours are available on our Heritage Open Day, or can be arranged at other times for groups of six or more visitors if booked in advance – please contact email@example.com or the Peak District Lead Mining Museum. We welcome educational visits to the site, and a free downloadableTeacher’s Pack is available.
You can read more about the history of Magpie Mine here. The Society has also published a guide book (copies £1 each) which is on sale at the Peak District Mining Museum in Matlock Bath, and also from the Agent’s House or Smithy when Society members are on site.
We are very proud of the work that we have done to preserve this important and unique industrial heritage site for over 50 years, making it one of the top attractions in the Peak District. But please remember that it is a former industrial site – as well as a Scheduled Monument with legal protection – so facilities are very limited. For example, apart from a small area at the centre of the site, the ground surface is uneven and unfortunately not suitable for wheelchair access or children under 5.
Visitors are asked to take care not to interfere with any aspect of this Scheduled Monument to ensure the site, with its historic artefacts and buildings, remains in good condition for the enjoyment and education of future generations.
This is a volunteer operated non-commercial visitor attraction with no entrance fees. We only normally offer guided tours and basic catering facilities on Heritage Open Days, can be arranged at other times for groups of six or more visitors if booked in advance – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the Peak District Lead Mining Museum. Refreshments may be available in nearby Sheldon.
For the enjoyment of yourselves and others who visit, please observe these guidelines:
- Safety: There are some potential hazards on-site and as the site is open 24×365 you visit at your own risk, getting assistance should you need it could be difficult. Visitors should alert the society to any vandalism and photographs of the damage (and if possible, the perpetrators or their vehicles) will be helpful.
- Buildings and other structures: Magpie is a scheduled monument, as such it is an offence to damage or deface any part of the site. It is also an offence to use any form of metal detector or to dig anywhere on the site.
- Mine shafts: don’t drop stones (or anything else) down the shafts. Only the most powerful torch will illuminate the main Magpie shaft down to water-level 500ft below. Do not interfere with any of the protective grilles, a fall down any of the shafts by persons or animals will be fatal.
- Personal safety: there are some steep slopes on the spoil heaps, unprotected drops, and lots of uneven ground on the site – so please take care where you walk and keep young children under control.
- Animals: Dogs must be on a leash and any waste picked and taken off-site. Cattle and sheep are grazed on the site and in the surrounding fields. Cattle become agitated by the presence of a dog especially if there are also calves. If the cattle do show signs of distress and are causing you concern it is then best to release your dog from the lead, it can run faster than the cattle and will lead them away from you. If your dog is one of the varieties which might become aggressive around livestock then exercising it in fields with cattle is foolhardy. Safety: Walking near livestock
- Drones: If you wish to see aerial footage of the site there are numerous videos on YouTube. There have been problems with drones being flown at Magpie Mine. We had no problem with those who operate in such a way as to respect other visitors, the livestock that is often on the site, wildlife and the historical buildings and artefacts. The requirements were simple: keep your distance (to prevent disturbance from noise), a drone must not be flown within 50 metres of any structure, vehicle or person or within the structures.
Unfortunately after numerous incidents when the guidance of the Civil Aviation Authority has been blatantly disregarded even by holders of the CAA PfCO license, disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of the site by others, flying far too close to the historic structures, scaring livestock and wildlife.
Drone fliers and their drones must be properly registered and adhere to our (and the CAA) terms but we have needed to take enforcement measures. Those include legal action, reporting violations to the CAA & Police and implementing technical counter-measures. We accept no responsibility should a drone be damaged by any counter measures but those measures are not intended to impact those who adhere to the guidelines. Any commercial use of drones at the site without prior written agreement is not permitted.
- Wildlife: Magpie Mine has protected status because of its fantastic range of wild flowers – including several nationally rare species. It is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) to pick or dig up any wild flowers. So admire their beauty, photograph or draw them – but leave them for others to enjoy as well.
- Filming: Magpie Mine is often used for TV and movie filming. Prior agreement is required and additional facilities can be provided including parking. Access to the on-site field centre can be provided with access to indoor spaces with basic services such as toilet access, simple cooking facilities, heating, electricity.
- Disabled access: As a former industrial site with protected status as an historic monument and as an SSSI on account of the endangered plant species, there are limits on what can be done to provide disabled access. There are steep slopes, steps, grazing livestock and difficult ground with mining hillocks and (grated) mine-shafts. With advance notice it may be possible to arrange for a volunteer to be on site to assist but the site is normally unstaffed. The gated driveway has a cattle-grid is private but with prior agreement access and parking can be facilitated.
- Underground access: The mine shafts are grated and there is no underground access. Tourists and educational groups may like to book a tour of Temple Mine in Matlock Bath via our associated Museum. For more serious underground trips the various regional caving clubs and our own associated UEG (Underground Exploration Group) are best equipped with the knowledge and expertise to provide underground access to the numerous historic Derbyshire lead mines.
Prices: Access is free however the costs of maintaining the site are very substantial and contributions are most welcome. You can help by visiting the museum, Temple mine, joining the society or by buying the guide book (available when there are volunteers on-site or from the museum)