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Underground in the Peaks

June 18, 2013
June 18, 2013 - Underground in the Peaks
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Peak Tangent are a group of girls who meet every two weeks and in the summer we like to get out and about to make the most of our stunning Peak District. This week we ventured underground into one of the richest and deepest copper mines.

Ecton in the Manifold Valley has been mined probably for much of the last 3500 years, but became famous as one of the highest grade and productive copper mines in the World during the 18th century under the ownership of the Chatsworth Estate.  It is said that the fifth Duke of Devonshire made such a huge profit of over £300,000 that he was able to finance the building of the magnificent Buxton Crescent, and the stables which are now the University of Derby campus in Buxton.

Today, access to the mine is restricted, and we entered through a long passageway which was flooded with water. It is incredible to think that the hard Limestone rock was mined mostly by hand, by candlelight in cramped conditions. Once extracted the ore was smelted for a wide range of uses, including the manufacture of brass and the sealing against barnacles of Royal Navy vessels.

The copper found at Ecton was up to 60% purity which is amazing as most of the modern mines in South Africa have low purity of less than 1% - no wonder the Duke made his fortune!

As the mine became deeper, the Duke engaged Messrs Boulton and Watt to build a steam engine at the top of the shaft to lift the ore from the depths below. This was completed in 1788 and the Engine House, which was bought by the NT along with the land, still stands and is thought to be the oldest mine-winding engine house in the world.

Ecton is of great historical importance as in its heyday in the late 18th century it was at the forefront of developments in mining technology. It was the site of:

  • the deepest shaft mine in Britain at the time
  • place where explosives first used in British mines
  • the development of an early Boulton and Watt steam engine
  • the pioneering of the use of water power for mine pumping

It was a fascinating tour and although not officially one of the seven Wonders of the Peak District it really is worth a visit. If you want to find out more you can trek up to Ecton Engine House run by the National Trust, or join one of their  "Ecton Underground Overground" days during the season.

However a word of caution - if touring the underground mine make sure your wellies are actually waterproof or you may end up with soggy socks like mine!

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Hoe Grange Holidays Tripadvisor Comments...

  •   We had a lovely time staying in one of the incredibly well equipped pods. I bought my pony along and we had some great rides on the high peak trail.... read more

    plopster1
    6/07/2019

      We have just returned from a short stay in one of the pods on site at Hoe Grange Holidays. We couldn’t recommend them enough. The pod has everything you could... read more

    Catboy86
    8/17/2019

      On arriving at Hoe Grange in a downpour, we doubted if we’d made the right decision to go glamping, but after the warm welcome from David and a quick tour,... read more

    karenmD4738KD
    6/25/2019
  •   We wanted a complete break and some peace and quiet and this was perfect. The caravan was secluded with beautiful views over the countryside. Everything was spotlessly clean and well... read more

    joanne B
    6/04/2019

      It's been three years since we last visited but once we arrived it certainly didn't feel like it!
    We stayed in Hipley again which had had a refurbished wet... read more

    ElizabethA717
    9/21/2019

      Lovely place to holiday near to interesting locations and easy access to the High Peak trail and Carsington Water. Part of a working farm with fresh produce to enjoy during... read more

    Angie B
    8/03/2019
  •   lovely surroundings real farm country with chickens paying you a visit nice decking area to chill at the end of the day accommodation very good plenty to do nearby... read more

    vincent s
    7/28/2019

      For the second year running, we have had a great family holiday at Hoe Grange. We had one cabin for the week, for two sisters and our elderly wheelchair-using... read more

    EJYork2013
    6/25/2019

      Recently spent a week in "Pinder" and had a lovely time. The location is stunning - the site is nestled in a beautiful valley on the edge of the Peaks... read more

    Peachey167
    7/16/2019
  •   Loved every minute of our stay, and so did the family and friends that came to stay. Excellent facilities in our cosy Hipley log cabin. By far the best... read more

    krimpenijssel
    10/25/2019

      Arrived and was shown to our pod, fantastic location and the pod was very good indeed plus we had home made bread and milk and tea and coffee. A... read more

    mickvfr
    7/28/2019

      Myself and my sister travelled to Costa Rica and Panama via Viva Holidays Ltd. The holiday was exceptional and one to be treasured forever. Andrew at Viva Holidays... read more

    Paula C
    7/04/2019
  •   Stayed last week, from 6th to 13th September in the log cabin called Hipley. This was amazing, it was our first visit but certainly not our last. Gold standard disability... read more

    548julie
    9/14/2019

      Second visit to the accessible holiday cabins at Hoe Grange. David and Felicity were as helpful and friendly as ever. We had a welcome pack of freshly baked bread, butter,... read more

    Charlotte M
    8/07/2019

      We stayed in Pinder cabin and had a lovely stay, the cabin was spacious and comfortable, nice and warm after cold days out. The children loved meeting the animals and... read more

    Tiggywinkle15
    11/05/2019
  •   We stayed in the Skylark pod last October (2018) and had a lovely time. There was homemade, rustic goods (bread, biscuits etc) when we arrived. Felicity and David who run... read more

    KBarry
    9/15/2019

      We spent four nights at Hoe Grange and had a lovely time. The location is fantastic and right next to the High Peak Trail. The cabin was very clean and... read more

    Big_Al_0000
    7/16/2019

      We've just returned from our second visit to Hoe Grange. The suggested riding routes with stunning scenery were enjoyed by my daughter and I while the menfolk were delighted with... read more

    Jdrichie12
    7/11/2019
  •   We love this place. Very wheelchair friendly, really well equipped and comfortable, with easy access by car to lots of places of interest particularly Crich Tramway Village, Chatsworth, Bakewell and... read more

    David H
    10/25/2019

      What a lovely weekend away! We stayed in the lovely gypsy caravan, which was a wonderful and really unique experience. We took along our two horses, who also had a... read more

    rachelthomas2015
    6/18/2019

      Another great holiday at Hoe Grange - such a great place for us all to holiday as a family - this time with a baby, a 3 yr old, a... read more

    Thesamps
    10/04/2019
  •   What can I say?
    Absolutely superb!
    We have just returned from a family weekend staying in Daisybank cabin and the Skylark pod.
    It was our first trip away with my... read more

    Wheelieuser
    6/13/2019

      We stayed in Rainster cabin for a long weekend 6 th to 9 th September. This was my 5 th visit to the amazing Hoe Grange. I had visited before... read more

    Jan Horsman J
    9/17/2019

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