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Slaley Sough

Slaley Sough, a lead mine level in the Via Gellia near Matlock, Derbyshire

Date: 20th February 2008

Although perhaps not the most inspiring place in the Via Gellia, Slaley Sough is worthy of a visit if only to see some of the efforts T'Owd Man went to in his search for lead. Although entirely mined, this is not really a sough at all as it lies high above the river and most of it is very dry. Combine this trip with a visit to Bonsall Leys Level and Gell's Adit to give a pleasant half-day or so's mine exploring in the Via Gellia.

Weather conditions:
Cold and dry.

How to find it:
Heading downhill along the Via Gellia towards Cromford, the easiest parking is at the "Goodluck Mine" layby, on the right hand side on a bend in the road (you can see the obvious spoil heap of Goodluck Mine from here). Walk downhill and pass the "Tufa Cottage" on your left. Shortly after this a faint track rises steeply up the hillside, vaguely following a small stream. Strike uphill until you reach some obvious spoil heaps (more obvious in the winter, when the undergrowth is less rampant). The mined entrance is at the base of a small "cliff" by a tree.

The land on which Slaley Sough lies is privately owned, but a long tradition of sensible use of the land (eg sticking to public footpaths wherever possible) means that, as far as we are aware, no formal approach needs to be made to the landowner for permission.

Kit required:

The stooping height entrance tunnel can be damp and muddy, depending on the time of year you visit. A few miners' inscriptions can be seen, but otherwise, there is little interest until a T-junction is met and the roof rises to more comfortable proportions. Right soon ends at a forefield - just before this there is a large hole in the floor which can be crossed with care to reach the end of the passage. Left is the way on; a right turn leads quickly to a deep flooded shaft in the floor. Old stemple sockets are clearly visible in the walls and there are a couple of nice inscriptions. The main route continues for a considerable distance in a comfortable sized passage, passing a raise on the left. In a couple of places, collapsed banks of toadstone need to be crawled over. Eventually this dusty passage leads to a forefield. Nowhere is there any significant evidence of mineralisation, and one can only wonder at the amount of effort made by the old miners to gain so little reward.