Guided Walks in the Peak District - Derbyshire

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New for 2014 - Derbyshire Life & Countryside

I am very excited to say that from January 2014 I am taking over the regular walking features in Derbyshire Life & Countryside. For many years I have harboured a dream to write for a 'glossy' and it just goes to show that dreams really can come true. This will give me the chance to dip into South Derbyshire for inspiration, an area that is virgin territory to me and for once I will not always know what can be found around each corner! Why not subscribe to a monthly copy of Derbyshire Life and follow in my tracks - each walk feature will include detailed instructions and a map as well as snippets of information. www.derbyshirelife.co.uk

 

New for 2013 - Peak Indulgence Days

These are 5* days of enjoyment in the stunning Peak District incorporating pampering, luxury, well-being and fun! I am working in conjunction with Rosalind Hoyes who is a qualified Body Control instructor to offer a day of gentle exercise with an hour of Pilates followed by a Peak District guided walk. Each day will be tailor-made to suit the size of the group and ability of its members but will include only the best hospitality with a fine dining experience and refreshments as part of your day. It is also possible to include a visit or tour to somewhere special or unique and spa treatment (subject to availability) to end your day with relaxation and a gentle winding down. There are several choices of venue to choose from and a pricing structure reflecting the content and itinerary of the day. Peak District Indulgence Days are subject to quote - please contact me for more details.

 



 

Environmental Quality Mark

On Thursday 16th June I was very proud and pleased to attend a rather posh award ceremony and
dinner at Haddon Hall where I was presented with my EQM certificate.
 
The Environmental Quality Mark is a certification that can only be achieved by businesses that actively
support good environmental practices in the Peak District National Park.
 
When you buy a product or service that has been awarded the EQM, you can be confident that
your purchase directly supports the high quality management of the special environment of the Peak District National Park.
 
EQM businesses
* Conserve the special and characteristic features of the Peak District National Park, for example, wildflower
meadows, special habitats for birds and wildlife, moors, dales, woodlands, dry stone walls and traditional buildings.
* Use products grown or made within the Peak District National Park
* Minimise waste by reducing, reusing and recycling
* Use environmentally friendly products
* Use energy and water resources efficiently
* Provide environmental information to customers
 

NEW FOR 2011 – ‘THE TRIT,TROT TRAIL’
Imagine the delight of walking in the wonderful Hope Valley, set in an amphitheatre of rugged Peak District hills overshadowed by the amazing Shivering Mountain (Mam Tor)! This fabulous walk of between 3-8 miles (different routes available) incorporates the picture postcard villages of Castleton and Hope as well as the site of the former Roman Fort at Navio. We head to the stables of Peter Eyre to watch him harness up his majestic shire horses to a dray before hopping on board for a relaxing and restful hour long drive back to Castleton with the added treat of ginger beer and home-made lemon drizzle cake along the way. Join me for this extra special adventure in the heart of the Peak District National Park for only £15 per person (booking essential as limited numbers apply)


 








“I was featured in Episode 3 of The Boat That Guy Built on BBC1 in March 2011 taking Guy on a guided walk around the World Heritage sites in Cromford Village which is famous for its association with Sir Richard Arkwright”  - Sally Mosley

 


PRESS RELEASE

‘SALLY AND THE STATION WALKS’

The popular Hassop Station Cafe which underwent a complete transformation in 2010 is working together with local guide and writer Sally Mosley to offer a selection of circular guided walks around Bakewell, Chatsworth, Hassop, Ashford and the Monsal Trail, all starting from Hassop Station.

The first walk ‘Beautiful Bakewell’ has been scheduled for Saturday March 26th at 10am, when Sally will lead the group on a leisurely stroll of approximately 3.5 miles around Bakewell and the Monsal Trail with the reward of a wholesome and hearty bowl of soup with tea or coffee at the end. There will be lots of snippets along the way on local history, fascinating facts and bits of gossip!

“A healthy walk packed with interest as well as a scrumptious lunch back at Hassop Station, should be just the ticket!” said Sally of her new venture.

The cost is £10 per person and booking is essential as there will be limited places available. Either telephone Sally Mosley 01629 814108 or Duncan Stokes at Hassop Station 01629 815668 to book or for further information. Alternatively, this and future walks will be featured on www.sallymosley.co.uk and www.hassopstation.co.uk websites.

 


                            
 
 



 

Lucy Kite, ITV News presenter and weather girl joined me on a cold and snowy day in February 2010 for a hike around Castleton as part of her training for walking the Great Wall of China later in the year in aid of charity.  After leaving Castleton and heading up through the remains of the Odin Mine to Mam Tor, we visited Cocoadance Chocolate factory for a tour and tasty samples before descending into the Blue John Mine beneath the famous Shivering Mountain. The show was broadcast as a special Easter Feature on Good Friday.


   





Feature in Spring 2010 issue of FAMILY LIFE CLUB Magazine
Click on picture above to view

 

BBC RADIO DERBY

TAKEN BACK IN TIME – LILYBANK  

          

I was recently asked by Radio Derby to give an interview about my schooldays at The Lilybank Presentation Convent, having been one of the first pupils to attend there. The wonderful former hydro building has just reopened as Lilybank Hamlet, offering high quality residential and sheltered accommodation for the elderly and persons in need of care, and was featured on the radio station during an afternoon show.

The interview took place at Lilybank where I chatted to presenter Suzanne Perry. Suddenly I found myself whisked back over 40 years and was given the chance to nostalgically tour my old school which in parts remained amazingly unchanged. During the visit my memories were in turmoil, my tongue twisted on air and at times my eyes brimmed with tears of emotion! 

A guided tour of Lilybank followed which was provided by Shabir Ali, Director of Progressive Care who now own the building and are in the throes of sympathetically returning it to its former glory. I saw the impressive results of their first phases with luxurious fixtures and fittings in the residential care section as well as beautifully appointed self-contained apartments which offer independent living but with assistance readily available on call. It was evident that Shabir loves the building as much as I do.

Way back in 1962 I had been a chubby little 5-year old in a stripy yellow summer dress, white cardigan and straw boater when I first walked through the large front door at Lilybank, my new classroom being in what had been the cocktail bar! Lilybank had been one of only two hydros in the town to reopen after the Second World War and continued as a hotel for several years until it was bought by the Convent to be used as an infant school, the main Convent and upper school remaining further up Chesterfield Road.

Back in the 1960’s Lilybank still contained many original features, fixtures and fittings, and I remember school dinners being taken in the luxurious dining room where we sat at antique tables and chairs to be served by the nuns with delicious food on silver salvers. On my recent visit I noticed that an original huge ornate mirror still hung in the hallway but my reflection revealed wrinkles and grey hairs instead of puppy fat and curls!

The circular Ballroom with its sweeping views over Matlock had been our indoor playground where we dashed about on the sprung dance floor playing British Bulldogs as we leapt up and down on the fitted window seats. This was also our Main Hall where we held assemblies as well as musical productions and operettas. The window seats and stage have gone, but the room makes a wonderful lounge for the residents whose winged chairs now sit upon a carpeted floor. 

Acres of landscaped gardens were our outdoor playground and we dashed about as pretend horses on the terraced paths or made dens in the bushes and flower borders. The croquet lawn was where we had races and played ‘squashed tomatoes’ or ‘tig’ with forward rolls on the handrail alongside. Sometimes we didn’t hear the bell ringing for the end of play and nuns would have to search and drag us back to lessons.

We had our own private tennis courts, whilst games of rounders were played on a grassy slope with the ball forever disappearing down into the bushes and trees which flanked an old cobbled path leading from Henry Avenue to Steep Turnpike, and I remember the terraced front lawns being great for doing a roly-poly! 

Schoolchildren were given milk for their mid morning break in little 1/3-pint bottles, which in summer tasted sour but in winter transformed into milky ice lollies.  

Lilybank was a boarding school with children coming from around the world. Long distance travel was much different in those days and the boarders often stayed for a whole term without a break, so they did not see their parents for months at a time, and I certainly remember lots of tears.

When the boarders first arrived they had huge heavy trunks which contained their clothes and a few toys and a large box full of sweets and chocolates for their tuck. These were kept in a special tuck room down in the basement. I so wanted to be a boarder and to have a big box of sweets, but as I only lived along Smedley Street in Matlock, my parents would not allow it! 

There were lots of prayers, processions and confessions as part of the Convent education, with mass twice a week, sometimes in Latin. It was difficult as a small child to think of sins to confess to, but as I wanted to be punished with a few prayers so that I could use my pretty rosary beads, I often made a few up. Generally it was that I had tormented my sister or been rude to my parents. With the Ten Commandments drummed into me at an early age, there was no way I could ever do anything really bad. 

It may be hard to imagine but I was often caned when very little – a light whack across the hand with a bendy cane, meted out by the nuns, which was generally for talking in class. It certainly didn’t cure me, as I am constantly described as a chatterbox! 

The best teacher at Lilybank was Miss Ballington, a local lady who taught the final year before eleven plus. I still use some of her artwork ideas and sewing techniques on my grandchildren and think of Miss Ballington with very fond memories. Mother Benedict and Mother Leila were also very kind and nice to me, but Sister Fidelma on the other hand was the one I seem to remember held the cane – need I say more! 

As readers will know, I am passionate about the Peak District and love to walk in the countryside, this probably stems in part from the lovely nature rambles that we had, when nuns would take us on walks to Lumsdale and the Wishing Stone. 

Back in the 1960’s a nun’s habit was like those worn in The Sound of Music. They had long black gowns with a huge white bib and a wimple or headdress, with only the flesh on their scrubbed faces and hands exposed. It was always a bit of a puzzle to know what colour hair the nuns had and we would regularly scrutinize their faces in the hope that a wisp of hair had escaped. Jangling from their waists were beads and keys - the sound of them swishing along the corridors of Lilybank was like some wicked chatelaine from a Bronte novel.  

Lilybank was highly polished and squeaky clean – the nuns loved dusters and bees wax! They were also very sympathetic and I often remember tramps being given food at the kitchen door to help them on their way to the nearest workhouse.

The kitchens, bustling with rosy cheeked nuns in full habit and blue aprons, seemed to be permanently full of steam from huge saucepans of boiling cabbage and potatoes. I also remember that we had wonderful Doxey’s sausages or spam, followed by rice pudding or semolina.  

Our winter uniform was a horrible ‘poo’ brown and yellow colour, making us look like banana toffee-striped sweets. It consisted of a tunic, cardigan, and a gabardine sleeveless body warmer topped by a heavy raincoat, scarf and beret. But lurking beneath were enormous thick cotton pants with old fashioned knicker elastic which would occasionally snap and leave them dangling around your ankles! This expensive uniform had to be bought from Henry Barry’s in Manchester who sent out a representative to the school once a term to take orders. Having an older sister at the school though meant that I often got to wear cast offs and hand-me-downs! 

Pupils would belong to a ‘house’ and also wear a coloured sash which tied around their waist and draped down their legs. I was a Greek so my sash was green. 

I escaped The Convent when I was eleven as by then my family had moved to Bakewell and I finished my education at Lady Manners. Now I look back with mixed emotions on my early schooldays – happy play times and the privilege of being at school in such a wonderful building and location; sadness that I did not keep in touch with some of my friends and a sense of poignancy that The Presentation Convent School as I knew it has gone for ever. Lilybank has survived though, and has been transformed into a place of luxury. Maybe in years to come I will find myself once more staring out of those ballroom windows and reliving my memories whilst dozing in a winged armchair!

Sally Mosley 

For more details on Lilybank Hamlet, please contact Progressive Care (Derbyshire) Ltd on 0800 0434334 or visit www.lilybankhamlet.co.uk.  


WALKS WITH TALKS - THE ECTON EXPERIENCE
 


Ecton Copper Mine and me

Ever since I was a young child I have been fascinated by the Ecton Copper Mines. I used to regularly visit family friends in the Manifold Valley with my parents, and was always intrigued by the mysterious Ecton hill with its copper topped folly, mine shafts and tunnels. I never imagined that one day I would be given the chance to explore within! 

My brother-in-law Richard Ellis is a geologist and was recently asked to take some radon readings from inside Ecton Mine, and obtained permission for me to accompany him. So on a mild day in August, clad in wellies and pit helmet with modern LED lamp attached, my adventure to the centre of the earth began! 

Accompanying us on our trip into the mine was John Bramley who is Chairman of The Ecton Mine Educational Trust.

Way back in 1969 a professional mining engineer named Geoff Cox, who had lived locally for a while, bought the mineral rights to Ecton Hill from the Chatsworth Estate. In the 17th and 18th centuries the Ecton Mines had provided the 4th and 5th Dukes of Devonshire with vast wealth, more than enough to build the wonderful Buxton Crescent and indoor riding school with its distinctive dome, but with no commercial viability the mine had now become something of a liability. Geoff had a dream though - to educate and to encourage children and young adults to be interested in geology, chemistry, mining and the fascinating history and preservation of the Ecton Copper Mines.  

A somewhat basic Field Study Centre was established in outbuildings next to Castle Folly or The Hillocks as it is also known which for a while was Geoff’s home. Groups of older schoolchildren as well as university students and local study groups were given tours over the hill and workings, and then brought into the Centre to do some chemical testing and analysis before being taken on a trip into a small and safe section of the mine through an entrance at the Salts Level, named after two brothers.

Geoff gave lectures at university and colleges and encouraged tutors, geologists and friends to help him in his quest, who later established the Ecton Hill Field Study Association. 

The tours had to stop in 2001 due to restrictions during the foot and mouth outbreak, as access to the hillside was prohibited, and when Geoff died in 2003 a decision had to be made as to the future of the Ecton Mines. Geoff’s executors set up The Ecton Mine Educational Trust which now owns the mineral rights and, dedicated to Geoff’s memory, carries on with his mission. 

The Trust provides facilities for the Ecton Hill Field Study Association and any other similar organisation or university to visit the mine. They are now actively seeking to recruit new tutors and volunteers and to obtain funding and assistance to enable them to update their premises and to continue the field study trips into the future. The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining support both the Trust and Association, and also use the mine for their own Schools Affiliate Scheme. 

John, Richard and a nervous little me headed toward the Salts Level entrance which looked a little like a Wild West Gold Mine, having thick wooden props to shore up the adit into the hillside.


The salt level entrance to Ecton

After only a few yards however we came to a very substantial metal door with a combination of locking devices to prevent unauthorised access to the mine.  

The section of tunnel we first entered was driven back in 1794 using only hammers and chisels, at a time when people were much smaller and I had to stoop as we ventured into the darkness, although I was told that this tunnel is actually quite high for a mine.  

The light from my headlamp picked out streaks of damp calcium carbonate which glistened like veins of silver on the solid rock walls. There was no longer any need for props as the limestone here is extremely hard and in many places throughout the mine I found drill holes where explosives would have been laid to break it down. On the ground were old stone sleepers which had supported the rails for a short stretch of narrow gauge line where carts full of rock and ore would have run. 

Soon we came to a beautifully cut oval shaft running vertically through the hillside. Here I peered up to see a glimpse of daylight filtering down from the shaft top some 200 feet above at the Deep Ecton engine house on top of the hill. There are notices all over Ecton Hill advising people not to drop stones down shafts, and as I looked up I could now understand why! Within the mine there are further notices and barriers as it contains many hidden dangers, although the section used for the school trips is relatively level and safe. However, I was given special permission to go deeper into the mine, and began a long descent on a series of narrow ladders with thin metal rungs, down into the depths to the lower levels of Deep Ecton Mine, normally reserved for advanced groups and authorised members of mining and potholing societies.  

I clung to damp wrought iron stays driven into the rocks and lengths of heavy knotted rope as my legs and feet gripped the slimy rungs of the ladders. At times huge voids opened up beneath me and the beam of light from my lamp disappeared down into an abyss. Surprisingly I was not frightened but my legs and knees were trembling from the experience – to me it was more exciting than the worst Alton Towers White Knuckle Ride! 

Eventually we arrived at the bottom onto the Ecton Sough Level and I was escorted along a section of tunnel to see where a waterwheel constructed in 1823 had once stood which had then drained the lower levels. Although it felt as though I was deep inside the mine, we had actually only descended about 100 feet and I was now about 300 feet from the summit of Ecton Hill – before it flooded Deep Ecton Mine continued for a further 1,000 feet beneath me! It must have taken miners so long to get down to the lowest levels that they would have stayed there for days picking away at the rock before heading back on the long climb to the surface. 

A separate Clayton Mine was started in the 1730’s whose adit is a few hundred yards away, with shafts also honeycombing Ecton Hill. 

Along one of the tunnels was a type of fungi sticking out from a piece of old timber in delicate long thin transparent fibre optic strands, which probably found its way here on the bottom of someone’s boot, and every once in a while there was a patch of fabulous emerald green ore in the rock which had evaded the miners picks. As I wandered along in the heart of the hillside, I picked up a small piece of rock from the ground to take home as a souvenir of my visit. 

The lower levels are now totally flooded. Fenced off beside me was the Water Engine Shaft, now a pool of crystal clear water nearly 700 feet deep. Puddles lined our route out with a little drainage channel of water to the side from where the waterwheel had been sited, and I had great fun wading along and splashing about in my wellies.  

It was now time for the challenging and tiring climb back up the ladders, with the chance for a rest at the top as Richard carried out a Radon check, his machine whirring away to break the eerie silence. It would have been totally different some 250 years ago when working in the mine was at its height. Then there would have been the noise of constant hammering and the tapping of picks, shouting and noise from the miners as well as the sound of rattling wagons or the dragging of kibbles laden with rocks being brought to the tops of shafts, in an effort to get the valuable ore to the surface. There would also have been charges set and the occasional sound of explosions from deep within the bowels of the earth!  


Copper Ore at Ecton

It was interesting to be told that per tonnage far more lead than copper was actually extracted from Ecton Hill. The heyday for the Ecton and Clayton Mines was during the 18th century. In 1761 the profit from ore and metal output was £2,875, but this increased to £20,945 by 1788. After that time it was all downhill as a result of escalating expenses and a drop in the value and demand for lead and copper, with the mines finally closing in 1889.  

Eventually we made our way to the exit, marked by a little dot of light in the distance which got bigger and brighter as we neared it. The warmth of outside hit me in a wave as I emerged and the dazzling sunshine was blinding to see – now I know what a mole feels like! 

There are no plans to turn Ecton Copper Mine into a commercial venture such as the caverns at Castleton or the lead mines around Matlock Bath, so I feel extremely privileged to have been allowed inside. As I walked back to the car I extracted from my pocket the little piece of rock which would take pride of place at home, but as I looked at it in daylight I was disappointed to see that it contained no green tinge and could easily have been dug up in my garden. Oh well, at least I knew where it had come from and the effort it took to get it to the surface! 

Sally Mosley 

Schools, colleges or local study groups wishing to visit the Ecton Copper Mines, or any person or company interested in supporting or funding this venture should please contact Anita Horton at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, Danum House, South Parade, Doncaster DN1 2DY (01302 380908)
 

Guided Walks in the Peak District - Derbyshire

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