The site of old mine workings may not be the first place that might spring to mind if you were looking to escape from other people and commune with nature. In fact it could even be said that Silence Heritage Site is anything but silent these days, even though it is not the sound of mining that you will hear.
Tucked away on the south facing side of Hucklow Edge, between the communities of Foolow and Great Hucklow, it would be easy to pass by without even noticing the 4.5 hectares of scrub, woodland and grassland. Once there though, the air is filled with the sounds of birdsong and insects buzzing from wild flower to wild flower. Out of the corner of your eye you will catch site of the white tails of startled rabbits as they dart for cover, or as in our case on a recent visit, you may witness the spectacle and commotion of two male pheasants fighting for territory.
The area has a long history of lead mining and a complex system of surface soils has developed as a result, supporting a wide variety of plant species not normally found growing in the same area. The character of the site provides an excellent habitat for many species of butterflies, moths and birds. We spent some time watching a newt swimming happily up and down in a tiny pond, completely unaware of us. And that is one of the special things about this site; the animals are unused to being disturbed, the flowers grow freely, un-trampled by feet and the views over the White Peak scenery are simply stunning.
Silence Mine started in 1713 and its workings were 160m deep. Little is left of the mine now except the footings of the 19th century steam engine house, boiler room, coal cellars, access passage and flue. The engine was used to bring lead ore from deep underground and to pump water out of Silence Mine. A local conservation group has carried out an excavation of the mine site and there are several interpretation boards detailing the history, the wildlife to be found there and also the geography of the site.
There are no benches and other than the interpretation boards, the site is perfectly natural. It is somewhere to come and drink in the sounds and sights of the Peak District without disturbing the wildlife and without being disturbed oneself.
During our visit we saw whole banks of cowslips and campion along with many other wild flowers, the names of which are too numerous to mention. Standing on the site, we were able to look down towards Foolow and beyond, the views framed by mature trees and the ground painted pink, blue and yellow by carpets of different wild flowers.
The Silence Heritage site is not widely known about and in one way we would like to keep it that way, but if you are visiting Candlelight Cottage, we would love you to go there and experience for yourself the magic of its tranquillity and ever changing colours.
If this has whetted your appetite, then please do contact us. Candlelight Cottage is on the edge of a site of special scientific interest and there are many other beautiful places we can recommend to lovers of nature, where you can spend all day roaming undisturbed amongst outstanding flora and fauna. You can check our availability here. There are also several more photos taken at the Silence Heritage Site on our Facebook page.