Nature vs Man… An industrial world long forgotten… Overgrown and magical…
Middle Peak Quarry is the ultimate UK highline spot. This place has potential for 400m+ highlines all at around 80-120m of height.
We arrived on a warm Thursday night. The team was made up of Dane and myself from Newcastle, Sarah from York, and Dora from Sheffield. After the long drive, rigging a line in the dark was not an option. I did however walk down to the edge of the gap. Although I could see nothing in the dark, the simple presence of the void was overwhelmingly powerful. This place felt immense and I couldn’t wait to see the spot in the morning.
The sun steams down through the leaves and a gentle breeze wakes me from my sleep. As I scoot myself higher in the hammock, as I take a look around. The place that we had set up camp was amazing. It was a collection of trees right at the top entrance of the quarry. After a breakfast wrap, we collected the gear that we thought we would need for the rig. As soon as we got to the spot, the laser was out and we started measuring.
300m… 280m… 250m… these spaces are all too long for the material that we had with us! Using the measuring laser, we eventually found a 116m spot that would be perfect. Rigging started and after just 2 hours, the line was ready- Right, who’s up first?!
While we were rigging, we noticed a car that had parked right at the bottom of the quarry next to the lagoon and there was a man watching us. We took no notice of it at the time and simply continued with the mission.
Luckily, I got the first try of the line. As I was tying in, I took in the exposure. This line was a project. Rigged on double nylon with about 10m of sag, it was not going to be easy. As I walked, I felt the void opening up to my right. In my peripheral vision, I could see the outline of the lakes, 100m below me. The feelings that I got while walking this line were so positive and filled with hope and excitement that it was a constant mental battle for me to return to the task at hand!
I crossed the line with about 4 catches. On my way back, facing the sun now, all I could see was the ripple reflections from the lake and the narrow pathway of the line set out in front of me. As I was enjoying the walk, I noticed some movement down at the bottom of the quarry. Squinting, I could make out the outline of two police cars, accompanied by the original car racing towards our level of the quarry. I knew it was just a matter of time before this magical project was to get shut down. I enjoyed a few more seconds of line time and then got straight off the line. I felt strongly that because of this sudden time limit, I would prefer that the others have a chance to enjoy the line too.
As soon as I was untied from the line, Sarah was there in no time. Tag team style, she ties in and gets straight on the line. After a few minutes on the line, Sarah just reaching halfway, the authorities appeared around the corner.
I did my best to sweet talk them into letting us stay but they were going on about the quarry being private land that was unsafe and unstable and about how we were trespassing there… I don’t remember the fence being that big…
After about 10 minutes of trying to convince them, Sarah being encouraged off the line, and fruitless attempts to explain the safety precautions that we were adopting, the conclusion was that we were the uninvited guests of the quarry and we had to leave.
So we proceeded to derig the line and pack up our things from the quarry.
It’s a shame that the authorities of this spot were so difficult to negotiate with but we plan to contact the land owner to arrange authorized rigging missions. Alternatively, the UK highline scene should team up and buy the quarry. We can create suspended structures to sleep in, and have high and waterlines rigged there all year round. BBQs every night in summer and daily lagoon swims. We could rig a zip line from the highest tier going straight into the water. We could even set up some rope swings and host monthly parties in our paradise. This place would be the UK Mecca of the slackline scene…
…in an alternate universe.
Photos Cortesy of Dora DC Photography