Danger lurks below surface

Empty bottles float on an oil slick at the blue lagoon, Harpur Hill
Empty bottles float on an oil slick at the blue lagoon, Harpur Hill

Community leaders are warning of a tragedy at a flooded quarry in Buxton which has become a bizarre holiday destination thanks to photos on the internet.

The Blue Lagoon at Harpur Hill has seen young people and even families turn up to camp out, swim and hold all-night drinking parties there because the web pictures show an idyllic stretch of water with a ‘beach.’

The disused Hoffman quarry and so called blue lagoon, Harpur Hill

The disused Hoffman quarry and so called blue lagoon, Harpur Hill

But the lagoon is only blue thanks to chemical pollution, the water hides the rusty wrecks of abandoned cars - and the ‘beach’ is limestone chippings, covered in old tin cans.

“A recent water test registered it as being only slightly below bleach,” said the area’s county councillor Pam Reddy.

“But people are putting their babies in it in rubber rings.

“You mix alcohol, young people and water together and it’s asking for an accident.”

She and other councillors met police chiefs last week to discuss the issue, which has been a drain on officers’ time as they had to set up a mobile police station in Harpur Hill over the Easter weekend to deal with problems caused by the influx of Blue Lagoon ‘tourists’ – which have even included stag parties.

And now one local woman is warning that the lagoon is covered in diesel fuel after her pet dog took a swim in the water and it cost her £66 to have the poor animal cleaned later by a vet.

Charlotte MacMahon took her Springer Spaniel on a walk along an old footpath that runs along the boundary of the site and he ran off. When he returned he was covered in the oil.

“It was pretty bad,” said Charlotte. “I tried to clean it off with hot soapy water but I had to take him to the vets. They had to use Swarfega on him in the end and managed to get most of it off.”

As a precaution a course of tablets were also prescribed because if a dog ingests oil it can cause respiratory problems.

She is now warning other dog walkers, who use the popular footpath, to be on their guard because of the lack of proper fencing around the site.

“There is so much rubbish down there. I looked at the top and it seemed someone had dumped diesel oil.”

Inspector Martin Coey said: “Local residents have reported incidents of anti-social behaviour at the quarry where people often go to meet up or drink, being noisy and leaving litter.

“The quarry is sometimes used by off-road motorbikes and quad bikes.

“We have increased patrols around the Blue Lagoon and move on anyone we find there.

“I would warn people against going into the water.

“Quarries are dangerous places and although the water may look inviting, you can never be sure what’s under the surface to cause you injury.”