A ‘toxic’ blue lagoon has again been filled with black dye in a council bid to stop Instagram selfie seekers flocking to the Derbyshire beauty spot during lockdown.
The flooded lime pool, once the site of an industrial kiln that towered above Harpur Hill, near Buxton, in the Peak District, was the source of huge problems for locals last year, as thousands of people were attracted to the water’s bright blue hue.
Scores of badly parked cars caused traffic chaos and blocked driveways, and there were dozens of reports of anti-social behaviour, including people urinating in gardens and in the church yard, as they made their way to and from the quarry from surrounding towns and cities.
At the site of the pit itself, which is privately owned and has no official access other than a gap in a fence, litter was scattered everywhere, including evidence of drugs misuse, open fires and barbecues.
And despite signs near the site, officially known as Hoffman Quarry, warning people that the water has the same PH level as bleach, due to the toxic mix of chemicals, some people were seen swimming in it as the hot weather arrived last year.
As the problems caused by visitors came to a head during 2020, Derbyshire Police, which had been making regular patrols at the site, poured black vegetable dye into the water to make it less appealing to ‘Instagrammers’.
And following a sunny weekend that saw more than 100 people travelling in to see the quarry each day, this process has now been repeated by High Peak Borough Council.
High Peak Borough Council has filled a ‘toxic’ blue lagoon in Derbyshire with black dye in a bid to stop Instagram selfie seekers flocking to the beauty spot during lockdown
The harmless dye was spread on Tuesday, and then again on Wednesday, and it is now starting to disperse across the water, gradually turning it an uninviting jet black.
Borough Councillor Keith Savage, for the Cote Heath ward, says the dye will now continue to be poured in every eight weeks or so.
He told Derbyshire Live: ‘We’ve got enough dye for the rest of this year if we need it, and we’ll make sure it’s done. So it won’t be blue again this year.
‘This weekend we’ve been up there to keep an eye on the place and there’s not been thousands of people up there like there was last summer, but it’s early in the year yet.
‘There were probably around 100 people per day, and they’re coming from Sheffield and Manchester and so on, so the first thing is, according to the pandemic guidance, they shouldn’t be there at all. They shouldn’t be leaving home.
‘And they’re also travelling in groups, not just household bubbles.
‘They’re mostly between about 18 and 25, the people that are coming, and I’m not going to make it sound like they’re rampaging, most of them come and have a look, take some pictures, but from the local residents’ point of view they’ve got memories of what happened last year and they’re worried it might happen again.’
The current roadmap out of lockdown could see the ‘stay at home’ rule eased at the end of this month, and people would be allowed to meet up outdoors in groups of up to six, or in two households.
The flooded lime pool, once the site of an industrial kiln that towered above Harpur Hill, near Buxton, in the Peak District, was the source of huge problems for locals last year, as thousands of people were attracted to the water’s bright blue hue
Some fear this stage of the easing, especially if it coincides with sunny weather, could see a return to the chaotic scenes the village saw last summer.
Cllr Savage said: ‘If a couple of dozen people go up there and take a look they’re not going to cause any huge nuisance, but it got to the stage last year where over one weekend over 2,000 people came, and they left a huge amount of stuff behind.
‘Harpur Hill is a growing place, but it’s a quiet place, and that’s why people choose to live there. That’s why they get a bit perplexed to have thousands of people rocking up for a party.
‘I can’t imagine what it’s like to live with that, even if it’s just once or twice a year.’
Derbyshire Police first took action last March, having been told that people were continuing to congregate beside the water, despite Boris Johnson’s stay-at-home orders.
In a Facebook post, Buxton safer neighbourhood policing team said: ‘No doubt this is due to the picturesque location and the lovely weather (for once) in Buxton.
‘However, the location is dangerous and this type of gathering is in contravention of the current instruction of the UK Government.
‘With this in mind, we have attended the location this morning and used water dye to make the water look less appealing.’
A man raises his arms as he swims in the lagoon last year, after police had used dye to turn the water black
But despite the well-publicised move, just weeks later, a man was caught swimming in the lagoon.
The man, who was not named, was said to have abused firemen nearby before deciding to take a dip in the water – which is full of toxic chemicals from a quarry.
The site is also said to be full of animal carcasses, excrement and even a rusting car floating just beneath the surface.
Derbyshire Fire And Rescue Service tweeted at the time: ‘Despite a friendly chat from one of our prevention team this person still decided a swim in toxic black water was in order.
‘What wasn’t in order was the abuse our officer, who could be called to save his life if he got into difficulty, received when trying to warn him of danger.’