The English Peak District (as a potential geopark): mining geoheritage and historical geotourism

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Abstract

The Peak District is an upland region in central Britain with a rich mining geoheritage. It was established as the UK’s first National Park in 1951. It was the region, due to its widespread loss quarries and mines sites to inappropriate remedial measures, which led to the recognition and promotion of the modern geotourism paradigm. It is the birthplace of British geotourism with the earliest recorded instances of leisure travellers purposefully choosing to visit mines and caves. Metalliferous mining in the region can be traced back to the Bronze Age. Gangue minerals, especially fluorspar and barites, later became significant primary extraction activities and underpinned a small-scale semi-precious stone industry. It is home to the World Heritage inscribed site of the Derwent Mills, significant in the development of early Industrial Revolution textile technology and manufacturing practices. The almost equally significant mining geoheritage has yet to be similarly recognised and, indeed, its survival is still threatened because most tourism and many mining geoheritage stakeholders have a limited understanding of geo-history and the geo-interpretive significance of the individuals and geosites that shaped historical geotourism and geological exploration in the Peak District; their exploits and the legacy of their publications, alongside its superbly exposed and well researched geology and associated mining geoheritage, could underpin a bid for the region’s recognition as a geopark. Hence, this introductory paper summarises the key aspects of the region’s geology and major mining geoheritage sites, together with the major works and influence of some key individuals that should be included as a very minimum in such a bid.

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