Society Of Lancaster University Graduate Speleologists

Ecton Mines Weekend: 1st/2nd October 2016

Elen doesn’t want us to get too far from our Troglodyte roots, so she organized a trip down Ecton Copper mines in Derbyshire - mucking about underground disguised as “cultural heritage” – and very successful it was too!

However, first things first. Many of us arrived Friday night (the Daykins still on the way home from their month in Corsica, Martin on a business trip, John with Ritchie) ready for a Saturday out biking. It was a pleasant stroll-by-bike along the High Peak Trail and up to Minninglow ancient burial site for lunch. Ritchie got to try out an all-terrain mountain-bike wheelchair while the rest of us got to try out his electric bike, which makes the uphills far too easy!

Saturday night we were joined by Pete and Meg, Eleanor and Adam, for great food and a pre-birthday cake for Ritchie in case we miss it when he turns 60 shortly! And all this was just a fore-runner for our Sunday out down the mine…

Sheila, Chris Owens, Simon, Jes and Sue, all turned up Sunday morning, so there were 17 of us expectantly meeting our guide Andy, dressed in an array of borrowed wellies, boiler-suits and old raincoats. Ecton is a surprisingly long and complex mine system of walking passage, iron ladders and wading water. There are deep shafts, open or water-filled, and the remains of machinery including signs of a full-size waterwheel to power the pumps. A really interesting day out that was not too challenging for a group of lapsed cavers whose average age was brought down to an acceptable level by the four second-generation Sluglets on the trip!

The weekend finished with an extra treat for the engineering-inclined, a tour round Bill’s barn full of jacks and machinery for his business, and the opportunity to finish up all the cake. Many thanks to Elen and Bill for a fantastic weekend.

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