A trip into Alderley Edge Copper Mines

by Jane Bradbury

Sunday 13 November 2011:

After club members spent Saturday investigating Jug Holes and Knotlow, I had arranged a trip round Alderley Edge West Mine with the Derbyshire Caving Club for November 13, so it was an early start from the Orpheus Caving Club Cottage near Monyash. Breakfast was on the table at 8 am and the hut was swept and mopped by 9 am. The journey over to Alderley Edge was uneventful and we arrived more than half an hour early, much to Neil’s disgust: “I could have stayed in bed an extra half hour”.

Our guide, Paul Stubbs, duly arrived and, after signing the necessary indemnity forms, we wandered down through the woods and over an open field to the locked entrance to West Mine.

Inside the mine, we discovered a rabbit warren of small tunnels and huge caverns with smooth sandy floors. Our guides led us through the maze and showed us the sights — a green river of copper salts,

the Twisted Pillar, Lion Rock, the Laundry Shute, the Hour Glass climb and much more.

As we went, Paul told us about the history of the place — how long mining had being going on here and in other local mines (back to the Neolithic era in one case), how the council had paid for the mine to be filled with sand in the 60s (not completely effectively but enough to give Derbyshire Caving Club members hours of fun rediscovering and digging out passageways), and how vandalls had blown up the Twisted Pillar. In most places, the going was easy, but there were a couple of “interesting” traverses above large shafts, a rope descent down a steep slope above another large shaft, and a couple of more taxing climbs.

The whole fascinating round trip lasted about three and half hours, an excellent Sunday “cave”.

Members present: Jane Bradbury, Mike Clark, Neil Burgess, Gordon Scott, Stuart Aldridge, Rob Wake, David Higginson, Reynard Speiss, Kelcy Davenport, Ian Morrissey

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