Ecton Copper Mine by Tim Rolfe

As many club members headed out last Saturday to take advantage of the first glimpses of spring sunshine, those more (fool) hardy souls wellied-up and headed to the beautiful Manifold Valley to explore the delights of the Ecton Copper Mine.

Our guide for the day was to be John Barnatt, archaeologist, mine surveyor and formidable expert on history of the Ecton Mine.

Ecton has been mined since the Bronze Age, and in the late 18th century was the deepest mine in the country and possibly the world.  It was at this time that the mine also earned the Duke of Devonshire a fortune, with the huge profits paying for the building of the Crescent in Buxton and the Devonshire Dome, now the University of Derby campus in Buxton.

Today, access to the mine is restricted and we entered via the water drainage tunnel that was obviously flooded, but at a good foot deep in places thanks to the recent rains, it was a little deeper than we’d been lead to expect.  This made walking on the uneven tunnel floor somewhat challenging, especially for those who’d missed (or foolishly ignored?) the recommendation of sturdy wellies!

John explaining how canals, kibbles and eventually railways were used to carry the ore to the surface

Once underground, John began to explain the history of the mine, and this set the scene for the day as we were to explore the maze of tunnels, chambers and canals, interspersed with the odd fact or two about the mine and how the technical innovations of the industrial revolution were adopted to increase yields.  

ecton 2
Rare evidence of a copper seam left unmined

Around lunchtime, deep in the heart of the hill, we reached the head of the main shaft which although now flood, disappeared a phenomenal 300m below us.

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The main shaft – 1000ft of crystal clear water

After lunch, the tour continued with the same mix of history lesson and exploration, including the cavernous water-wheel chamber which also used to house the capstan/barrel engine for pumping out the water and keeping the deep mines dry.

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The realisation that we’d only seen a tiny fraction of the mine

Having spent around 4hrs underground, the cold had started to penetrate even the most well wrapped up members of the group, but the climb up the 9 ‘traditional’ ladders to the exit at the salts level helped to get the blood pumping and as we were hit by the welcome rays of the sunshine soon all shivers were long forgotten!!

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Underground via ferrata anyone?

All that left to say is thanks to John for such a fascinating guide & Alan P for organising a brilliant trip!!


Another wet evening

Alan so far has made all 2018 Tuesday meets… admittedly they have all been wet and at Castlenaze he didnt actually climb, but he has made them all.

So whatever happened today… Birchens was ON!

It was still drizzling when we arrived… but we wandered up feeling hopeful. It turns out though that optimism counts for nothing. It was damp… quite damp… very damp. Undetered we roped up and climbed trafalgar wall. A VDiff with a normal Birchen stiff start made stiffer due to zero friction.


Alan led and i followed

We decided that one route was enough and we headed down meeting Andy Nibbs on the way down who had been wandering around searching for dry rock… he had not been succesful


First Aid – By Ross

Last weekend myself, Dave and Jaimella attended a 2 Day Outdoor First Aid Course with Will4Adventure . I had to do it for work and to keep some qualifications valid while Dave and J just wanted to make sure they were ready if anything happened.


As climbers/walkers we are often away from roads and easy access as well as carrying out activities where an accident is not out of the question. It is not a matter of just waiting 10-20 mins for an ambulance….. we maybe the only people nearby and help could realistically be hours away. So whether you do a course or not, being prepared for taking control if an accident happens is not a bad idea.

The course was held in Youlgrave village and had people from around the country attending. The first day was spent indoors, learning the basics of managing a situation, working out what the problems are, protecting the airway, CPR and bandaging.

Dave with a head injury and pen stuck in his leg

The second day was when it started to get more related to the outdoors. We spent a lot of the day practicing moving our victim off the ground (preparing for the long wait for help to arrive) as well as making them feel more comfortable during this wait.

We then spent a number of hours putting all this into practice during mock scenarios down by the river. We took it in turns to be the victim, the first aider and the random helper named Tom (Totally.Obedient.Moron).


I have had to do a number of these courses, this one was well delivered, at a good pace and the practical work was relevant to what we may find while on the hill…fallen climber, crashed mountain biker with an attitude problem and weirdly positioned casualties. We had a chance to practice what  we learnt and build on our knowledge from day 1 while under a little pressure.

All in all I think all 3 of us feel that we are more capable of dealing with any incidents, minor or major that we may find while out on the hill… however please don’t put us to the test on Tuesday.


Last week Windgather, this week Aldery.

Like last week it looked like rain was stopping play. But determination saw through and we had 2 outdoor groups and one indoor group.

While Dan and Rob headed to the Roperace others took a chance and headed to Windgather. Alan, Derek, James, Stuart and Jo got three routes in each though reports were that it was bloody cold.

A larger group headed go Earl Sterndale and went for a nice if slightly damp walk around the quarry tops. Flashes of thunder were seen in the distance over the roaches but only showers ever reached us.


Braemar Meet – By Andy Bolger

“Dark at tea-time, sleeping indoors, nothing ever happens in the winter holidays”

To book a winter holiday in Scotland is to take a chance. Sometimes, like last year in Glen Clova, the snow is high and scanty, good for walking but frustrating for skiers. Sometimes the snow is rock hard, great for climbers, but scary for anyone skiing on light nordic touring gear. More often, what snow there is,  blows horizontally and wetly producing conditions suitable for only the hardiest mountain bikers, runners and valley walkers. This year, however, was a year for skiers, or at least for skiers prepared to work hard for their pleasures, as the snow, sometimes as sticky as porridge lay thickly but not evenly, from valley floor to mountain top.

snowy top

Ten Buxton MC members made their way to Muir Cottage, a cosy hut belonging to Cairngorm Mountaineering Club, and lying between Braemar and the Linn of Dee. For reasons I won’t go into, four more members opted for a luxurious  apartment in the nearby Mar Lodge (think Scottish Baronial: wood paneled corridors adorned with the heads of dead animals) while yet another member was further down the glen, with another team, in equally opulent surroundings. I mention this only to point out that, if  for whatever reason, you don’t like sleeping in huts, you can still go on hut meets. I’m sure it was entirely coincidental that, although no epics were experienced by those of us based at Muir Cottage, the same cannot be said of those who stayed elsewhere.

Anyway, Monday and Tuesday provided valley level snow, intermittent sun  and clouds that slid above everything except the Munros. Most of us set off, on foot, or on ski, up from the Linn of Dee (a linn is a watery ravine) through the pine forests of Glen Lui. Those who  started earliest and walked fastest, i.e. Robert and Ros, climbed the only mountain of the day, Beinn Bhrac (931m). Others, explored Glen Derry or made Derry Lodge, windows, their objective.

My team  decided to lunch beneath the red-granite walls of the lodge, which looked forbidding with its  boarded windows . Shortly after, we were forced to take stock as we had run out of snow. Up to then the ascent had been pleasant enough for those of us on nordic touring skis, Adrian’s were brand new, picked up from the shop that morning. Walking along the track did not seem an attractive option for  Declan, on his alpine touring set up including some ancient and not very comfortable looking red plastic ski-boots. In a fit of common sense we abandoned our plans of attempting Carn a Mhaim, opting instead to cross the ridge east of Sgor Mor . We were rewarded by excellent snow on the ascent, tolerable snow on the further side of the ridge, and a testing descent, perhaps not best suited for new skis, back to the forest above the River Dee. Like so many things, our route might have been better if we had attempted it in the reverse direction, but still,  the sun’s light as it was reflected from the red bark of the pines was glorious, even if our skiing was rather less so.

For me, Tuesday was the day I passed the Walsh Test, or at least the La Sportiva Boot Test. (other brands available). Perhaps, I’d better explain. Enthusiastic converts to cross-country skiing may tell you how much faster it is than walking and in Norway, this is often true. In Britain, however, inadequate snow-cover means that is usually quicker, if less fun, to walk. On this occasion, despite snow from the pay and display car park at Invercauld, Robert and Ros, walking along the cleared road, while I faffed putting on and taking off skis, were soon far ahead of me, so I was pleasantly surprised to catch up with them in the forest. Apparently the foot or so of snow on the tracks was hard work, and indeed it was, even on skis, especially later on the soft snow leading to our objective, the demoted Corbett of Carn Liath Nevertheless, it was sweet to wait for, what is usually, the ‘A -Team’ on the summit and even sweeter to wait for them at the bridge below the hill.


We saw no-one else on  our wanderings, which included a detour in search of the promoted (by one metre) Corbett, Creag an Dail  Bheag, unless you count the white hares and ptarmigan, and I certainly don’t count the black grouse, or was it a capercaillie? The walkers claimed to have encountered in the forest.

While I was busy earning my turns,  on the other side of the glen, Adrian and Declan had driven to the snow. Apparently they found it to be in good nick above 800m which, coincidentally, was the cloud-line. They seemed pleased with their haul of Munros and, despite a good try, managed to avoid skiing off the abyss. Meanwhile, the rest of the team had also been busy.  Tandem riding (Alex and Mark) and valley skiing (Del, Les and Moya) were attempted, while Derek and Wendy climbed the Battery above Glen Ey.

By Wednesday, my boots had made serious inroads into my feet, and I think Declan’s were  suffering too. Despite the sunshine, an easy day was called for. Several parties attempted a hill (Carn Mor? ) on the other side of Glen Ey, and one team, Les and Del, even reached the top. Moya, Wendy and I demonstrated that even an easy valley walk can end in a bushwhacking session. Derek went mountain biking and came back, rather damp, as mountain-bikers often do.

Wendy and Moya

Elsewhere, some impressive epics were being enacted. Susan, climbed the Cairnwell and  came to realise that just because a Munro is described as ‘easy’ doesn’t make it so in zero visibility and strong winds. She may have also wondered if an  axe might be more effective than walking poles for arresting a slide on hard packed snow. Further east, Adrian, in quest of yet another Munro, demonstrated to himself that, “two skis are good, one ski not so good”, and returned from Mount Keen by a longer route than he had planned.

Thursday morning was dreich: grey wet and windy.  Despite this, we contrived to have a right royal time. Some walked from Glen Quoich over to Glen Lui, on a route allegedly favoured by Queen Victoria.  Declan spent so long choosing boots in Braemar Mountain Sports that even I got bored looking at ski gear. Then, of course, we had to try out his new toys, so we set off to the Ballochbuie  Forest, part of the Balmoral Estate. Apparently, this has some of the largest Caledonian pines in the country and is the haunt of capercaillie and crossbills. Needless to say, we didn’t see any exotic birds but did notice a few large trees. Otherwise, this made a good introductory nordic tour as it was reasonably sheltered and had just about enough snow.  We lunched in the Queen’s luncheon shelter , watched the rain and were glad to return to the hut for a mass dining event (see pictures).


So that was it, five nights, four days,  quite a lot of snow, a few hills, a bit of skiing, some bike riding  and quite a lot of pottering, eating and drinking. Oh, and an interesting drive following the snow plough on Friday morning.

BuxtonMC – 40 Year Anniversary

40 years.jpg40 years ago in March 1978 Buxton Mountaineering held its first meetings. The first meetings involved a vote to form a club  swiftly followed by a disagreement over the name… Buxton Mountaineering Club was felt by some, to not be a ‘cool’ enough name.  I presume after this there was a lengthy discussion about what pub to meet in.

To celebrate our 40th we are holding a meal at the Leewood Hotel in Buxton on the 7th April. We would like to see as many current and ex-members there to celebrate the last 40 years.

Steve Riggs are in charge so get in touch with him or contact me through the normal club email.

Hope to see as many people there as possible