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Alderley Edge Copper Mines, Cheshire

Alderley Edge Copper Mines - Wood Mine, Hough Level & Engine Vein

11 October 2008


These ancient copper mines, some of which are thought to be of mediaeval origin, are situated on the beautiful red sandstone escarpment of Alderley Edge and are owned by the National Trust. Access to the mines is via the Derbyshire Caving Club, whose web site contains a wealth of information about the mines including photographs, surveys, access details, virtual tours and more.

Alderley Edge and its mines are also famed for their association with the famous local author Alan Garner and his books, the first of which, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, has been enthralling readers of all ages since 1960 when it was first published.


We were lucky enough to be invited on a trip to these mines in October 2008, which afforded us the opportunity to take some photographs in Wood Mine, the Hough Level and Engine Vein as well as getting to know a great deal about the history and archaeology of the Alderley Edge copper mines from one of the main DCC members involved with the project.

Wood Mine is a confusing array of passages which sports some large caverns and splendidly-coloured blue-green chrysocolla "waterfalls". The impressive Sand Cavern and Rabbit Caverns are often included in the route taken on public open days.

Wood Mine connects with both the Hough Level and Engine Vein. The Hough Level, which is dry to start with where we entered it in Dickens Wood, reaches an area of waist-deep (or more) water past the Blue Shaft connection to Engine Vein. There's a very smart three-person Canadian canoe in this section which can be used to reach the Brynlow Level without getting wet - providing you don't, quite literally, rock the boat!

The spectacular Blue Shaft in Engine Vein is ascended via a fixed metal ladder and provides a superb underground photo opportunity, with the blue-green mineral deposits flowing down the wall vertically for almost the full height of the climb.

A superb and varied group of mines which really is worth a visit - all credit to the work done by Derbyshire Caving Club in maintaining both the site itself and the access to it.

Main passage in the Hough Level, Alderley Edge Copper Mines

Main passage in the Hough Level, Alderley Edge Copper Mines

Blue-green chrysocolla and other mineral deposits at Alderley Edge Copper Mines

Blue-green chrysocolla and other mineral deposits at Alderley Edge Copper Mines

LED Caving and Mine Exploration Lights

High power LED caplamps for Caving, Mining,  underground exploration, night and confined space working.