Author Topic: Help keep the "Derbyshire Key" system going  (Read 1081 times)

Offline Jenny P

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Help keep the "Derbyshire Key" system going
« on: March 20, 2016, 12:55:02 pm »
The "Derbyshire Key" system (aka a large adjustable spanner), popularised by DCA, is widely used throughout the Peak District; generally farmers and landowners are happy that it prevents accidents to livestock and people in areas where there are open shafts and cave entrances, whilst cavers are happy that it allows hassle-free access without requiring permits or paperwork in advance. 

However, just a reminder that at sites where DCA has set up this system to maintain access, it is really important that the nuts on lids and gates are tightened up with the spanner when you leave so that they cannot be undone by fingers alone. 

We have recently had some nuts go missing from the top of Knotlow Climbing Shaft - many thanks to AR for replacing these this morning.  It is suggested that, to avoid losing the nuts or dropping them down the shaft once you have opened the lid, you replace them on the bolts and spanner them tight straight away, i.e. before you go down, so the lid can't be accidentally bolted down to prevent you exiting and the nuts don't go astray.  After your trip it's important to make sure that the lid is closed securely with the nuts spannered up tight so they can't be undone by just fingers.

This is particularly important where the system is used for an adit or shaft close to a popular footpath, e.g. Mandale Mine in Lathkill Dale.  We have been warned by N.E. that recently the bolts were found to be missing on the shaft and gate on the Mandale mines.  This is an area which is heavily visited all year round by lots of families with children and there is a real health and safety issue if the mines are accidentally left accessible.  We'd hate to have to put a lock on these sites so please make sure that the Derbyshire Key system can continue to operate by taking care always to spanner up the nuts tight after visiting.

DCA hopes gradually to work through the various sites and replace the existing separate nuts with a system which allows a spanner to loosen a captive nut above a short swinging arm - so nothing to lose, drop, etc. and the Derbyshire Key system will work as before.  It will be quite a job to complete the change for all the many sites in the Peak District as, for each one, a hole will need to be drilled in the frame outside the lid to take a threaded bar, which will then need to be resined in, to take the swinging arm and the nut. 

Meanwhile, if you do come across a site which is missing its nuts, please contact DCA a.s.a.p. so they can be replaced: or

Thanks for your co-operation.

Jenny Potts,
DCA Hon. Sec.


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