By Paul Simms
The Peak Pilgrimage is a 39 mile long-distance footpath from the Church of the Holy Cross in Ilam to St Lawrence’s church in the plague village of Eyam, taking in ten other churches on the way. East Cheshire Ramblers are undertaking a series of circular walks to trace this pilgrimage route and we did the fourth of these recently.
A small group of Ramblers set off from the top of Lathkill Dale on an overcast day in mid-July that quickly brightened up and had us shedding fleeces and jackets and donning sun hats. Many spring wildflowers were still in evidence including the lovely blue Jacob’s Ladder.Also in the dale is much evidence of historical industry with mine tunnels and shafts, screes from quarrying, weirs and mill stones, and the pillars of an aqueduct that supplied a mill for pumping water out of the old mine workings.
The limestone of the dale is some 340 million years old, laid down in shallow tropical seas and coral lagoons with plenty of fossils to see when you know what to look for. At the village of Over Haddon, the stones of the Victorian church of St Anne’s have lots of crinoids and brachiopods. Leaving the dale here we set off across farmland and over many stiles to reach Magpie Mine.
Magpie Mine is the most complete example of lead mining in the Peak District. The picture shows some of our party enjoying their sandwiches in front of the old engine house where a Cornish beam engine was installed in 1840, again to pump water out of mine. Disputes over the rights to mine the lead seams led to the deaths of three miners at adjacent workings in 1833 and their widows put a curse on Magpie Mine which remains to this day!
From the mine we headed back across the fields to Bagshaw Dale and so to our start point.
For more details of the Peak Pilgrimage go to peakpilgrimage.org.uk. For information about lead mining in the Peak District go to peakdistrictleadminingmuseum.co.uk.