Places near to Ashford in the Water

Sheldon – Magpie Mine

Sheldon is a little village a bit further on from Ashford in the Water and very easy to walk to – have a look at our Ashford in the Water walks page and see a wonderful walk through the countryside to get to it on foot.

The village of Sheldon is a very typical White Peak village high on a plateau, with gorgeous little limestone cottages lining the long village green. There is a beautiful little parish church of St Michael and All Angels and this village was a mining community with Magpie Mine providing the main source of employment for its inhabitants for many years.

Magpie Mine is now a very quiet and peaceful spot, but it is reputed to have ghosts who still haunt the area, three miners who were suffocated by sulphurous fires, which were deliberately set underground by opposing miners. There was a many disputes over the rights to the various lead veins, which pass under the mine in the early 19th-century. No one was ever prosecuted for this act of violence. Today, in early spring, there is some of the best displays of wildflowers tolerant to lead such as the yellow, purple mountain pansies which cover the spoil heaps and in summer, wheatears nest in the dry stone walls around the mine buildings. Sandwort provides a spectacular display, the white flowered clumps of spring flowers which are now locally called ‘leadwort.’

The mine itself was worked off and on from 1682 for about 300 years and it had over 20 shafts, and is the most complete remains of the lead mine in the whole of the Peak District. Today the remaining buildings are in the care of the historical society and it is used as a field study centre. One of the most impressive buildings is the Cornish engine house of 1869, with its round Cornish chimney. It is reputed that Derbyshire miners were supposed not to have been able to construct round chimneys but this one certainly is. The black painted corrugated iron shed, which is near the main shaft, is now a protected ancient monument.

Magpie Sough (pronounced ‘suff’) is the mile long drain which took eight years to build and cost between £18,000-£35,000. It’s basically a tunnel built to drain from an old lead mine, Magpie Mine, as water in the mines was a constant problem for miners of the 18th and 19th centuries. This was a considerable sum of money in 1881 when the first water ever flowed through it, but it also reflects the importance placed on this particular mine. Magpie Sough became blocked when a shaft collapsed into it in the 1960s and a huge amount of water built up behind the blockage which led to a tremendous explosion of water in April 1966. Several hundred tonnes of shale partially blocked the River Wye but the sough was cleared and reopened by members of the Peak District Mines Historical Society in 1974.