Many months ago Bill asked the question: “Did mining take place at Ecton in the bronze age?”. As is often the case with Bill’s nonsequiturs, we had no idea. One thing led to another and a trip was suggested; Bill wanted to learn about early mining, Clive wanted to see what he remembered of Ecton Mine from 30 years earlier and Richard and I were pleased to go along because we haven’t explored many mines. In preparation, we, along with Clive, went to a talk on the Ecton Engine, the Boulton-Watt beam engine that had been installed in 1788 to haul ore out of the mine.
John, of the Ecton Mine Educational Trust, was our leader for the day and he was accompanied by a number of mine experts. Throughout the trip they provided commentary on the mine and hence we learnt about lots of things including the mine’s history, the geology of the mine, the mineralisation on the walls and the questions that remain unanswered.
In the morning we went into Ecton Mine. The majority of the passage at Ecton is flooded, however we were pleasantly surprised by how much mine there was on the level we entered. At the end of the entrance passage we got to the main shafts, which meet the surface some ~300 feet above and reach the bottom of the mine about 1000 ft below. Nearby we visited the ‘pipe’ which once contained the chalcopyrite-rich ore deposits that were mined here. This pipe is quite interesting as it twists and turns to the surface. Around this area we saw our first examples of malachite and azurite.
We were allowed into the pipe via ladders that were replicas of the ones that would have been there originally:
In the afternoon we explored Clayton Mine, the entrance of which is about 100 m away from Ecton. The geology in Clayton was fabulous – lots of folded and synclined rocks – here is Bill modelling such a syncline:
In another part of the cave we came across these cave pearls. They have formed since the mine closed in the late 1800s.
and these cool floating rafts!
We all had a great time. Bill got his question answered in the first 5 minutes, yes the mine was active in the bronze age, and Clive did remember parts of the cave, but a second visit was worthwhile to refresh the memories.
We entered the Edale Skyline ages ago when I was actually running well. Since then, running has been sporadic for about 5 months, but given that I survived a flattish 15 miles around Cannock Chase last weekend, we figured that 21 miles of the Edale Skyline with 4500 ft of climb wouldn’t be that different. We were joined by Mark (Peel Road Runners) who ran the event for the first time last year – this meant we couldn’t drop out before the event! The key thing about this race is the halfway cut-off; runners need to reach Mam Nick in 2 hrs 30, otherwise they are stopped from going any further. I wasn’t entirely sure that I could complete the race at the outset. Anything could happen … I could feel rubbish, I could be absolutely knackered as a result of the hills, my calf might decide to protest…. so I decided to focus on reaching the halfway point. A few hills before, Mark caught me up and spurred me on … so much so that I made the cut-off with 10 mins to spare. “Damn it”, I thought, “there’s no excuse not to finish now”. So, 4 hrs 40 after setting off, Mark and I finished the Edale Skyline. My legs ache.
Richard didn’t have a good start, his neck was causing him pain and then his knee started to protest on Win Hill, but he managed to finish in 3 hrs 50, which is extremely good given that his training has also been reduced over the past few months, and by the end he couldn’t bend his right knee.
A great weekend