Last weekend we had visitors to Buxton, my sister and her family with two young boys. With a wet weekend forecast we were on the hunt for indoor activities, but unfortunately quite a few are closed this time of year. After a hunt through some tourist brochures we came across an advert for Peak District Mining Experience – open, indoors and suitable for kids, result!
We were terribly organised and made a packed lunch the night before so turned up at 1120 so we could have some grub before the midday tour. When we arrived we paid for the tour / museum and asked if there was anywhere we could have some food before heading to the mine. We were gruffly told no, there were 24 cafés down the road or sit on seats outside. We had a look around outdoors, but as it was raining we instead went back inside and asked if the children could share the table they had for drinks. The member of staff didn’t reply, but the other people at the table were more than welcoming.
Whilst my sister let her children eat, I used the outside toilets to change baby E. Not a pleasant experience 😦 It was cold, the changing unit was filthy and, as I often find, no strap so I worried about her wriggling off.
Once E was changed we headed back to the museum where we were handed a dustpan and brush to sweep up the crumbs the children had made! It felt as if the member of staff was going out of her way to make us feel uncomfortable, the adults before us who had dropped crumbs on the floor hadn’t been asked to sweep up…
Housework done, it was off to the mine!
The mine is the otherwise of the road to the museum, up a steep path. On arrival we were told that when we brought the tickets we should have been advised it was wet underfoot, lots of talking (the guide seemed put off by some other children who were starting to fidget) and lots of crouching down to get through tunnels. Nope, we hadn’t been told anything but felt we could probably cope! Anyway, I had it lucky, hubby was the one carrying baby E – with hard hat for safety 🙂
The tour guide was a nice enough chap, stopping at various points and giving info. on how mining used to be carried out – I’m surprised anyone survived, a horrendois job – or how much gold was still in the hills. Quite a lot apparently! But excavation would destroy the local area so thankfully that wasn’t allowed, but this information made my nephews even more keen to try out the panning at the end!
The weather had been quite wet the last few days so it was also wet in the mine, our feet and jeans got quite muddy. Mental note – wear wellies next time!
The tour round the mine was just the right length to keep a group of small children engaged and we didn’t have to walk too far. It was tricky in places bending down and walking through tunnels – well it was for the adults but not the walking children! There were a few of us carrying children and this was tricky, it would have been helpful if we had been advised of this when booking our tickets.
When we came out there was the option for panning for gold, I declined but my nephews were very keen so we left them in the cold and walked back to the museum.
After the slight disappointment around the tour, the museum was an eye opener. There was so much to see including real artifacts, films to watch, tunnels to crawl through, pictures to see, text to read… it is fantastic! There was mining equipment that had been dug up from the depths of the ground and was on display, such a lot to see.
Once back from panning, my nephews enjoyed crawling through all the tunnels. There was a digger to sit in and lots to do – they had a lovely time!
Overall with the museum experience as well, we enjoyed our visit. The initial attitude of staff and lack of information did taint the visit, but the explorative and engaging offer from the museum won us over. Not a bad trip for a rainy afternoon in the Peaks.
Thanks for reading, here’s to our next adventure!