Simon Harrod via flickr
When we're asked to picture the perfect beach, most of us would think of clear blue water gently lapping white sands.
So it's little wonder that locals find it hard to resist taking a dip in the lake on Harpur Hill in The Peak District - known locally as the Blue Lagoon.
But the Daily Mail
reports that this water-filled disused quarry (pictured) is actually a toxic heath hazard - and visitors are ignoring warning signs explaining that the high pH levels mean that the water is almost as powerful as amonia or bleach.
Signs warn that the polluted water can cause skin and eye irritations, stomach problems, fungal infections and rashes - and that it's known to contain car wrecks, dead animals, excrement and rubbish.
Nevertheless, the Daily Mail reports that parents have been taking their children to swim in the lake, even though beer cans, glass and plastic bottles, condoms and syringes have been spotted near the water's edge.
Although the water looks inviting, the turquoise blue colour is caused by the surrounding limestone rocks, which leach chemicals into the water.
In March last year, an anonymous post appeared on a blog about the Blue Lagoon which read: "I went down last summer, it's quality, however it's only so blue because it's limestone water, I had a good swim - my misses only had a paddle. I was probably in for an hour. On the drive home I felt numb all over. Not sure it was such a good idea now.
"It was one of the hottest days when I went last year, and the water was still freezing, at the end of day it's a disused quarry and it's stupidly deep.
"The water's littered with cars and large sharp objects and you sink into the lime sand stuff and can get stuck easily.
"My opinion, I loved it, I'm going to go again, but be warned - it's a very dangerous place."
Now that the Blue Lagoon is becoming something of a tourist attraction, the county council are looking at ways to clean up the area.
The Daily Mail reports that Pam Reddy, the area's county councillor, said: "Both councils are pursuing different possible long-term solutions with possible permanent solutions being the quarry being drained or filled in.
"Before this can be considered and undertaken full research has to be completed on flood risk and site drainage and then a full planning application would need to be completed and submitted."
Councillor Carol Hart, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health, added: "I would just like to assure residents that at Derbyshire County Council we are doing all we can to help resolve this real problem. It is complicated by the fact that this is private land but nevertheless we will continue to work to come up with a solution to tackle this awful situation."
Click on the image below to see the world's weirdest beaches...
- Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas
White, yellow, brown and even black are all common sand colours – but pink? Three miles long, gentle and wonderfully wide, this otherwise textbook Bahamanian cove is a weird Barbie-colour due to microscopic coral insects called foraminifera: when they die, they considerately leave their pink shells behind to be crushed into the sand by waves. <strong>Fancy staying here?</strong> This one’s easy – <a href="http://www.holidaysplease.co.uk/" target="_blank">holidaysplease.co.uk</a> suggests holing up at the boutique and adjacent Pink Sands Resort, complete with 25 pastel-coloured cottages. </p>
- Papakolea Beach, Hawaii
Oh, and sand also comes green, too. There are two green beaches in the world: one is on the remote Western Pacific island of Guam, and the other is this Hawaiian oddity on Big Island. The reason for the strange shade is, in this case, olivine crystals; the result is a shore that looks like a grass verge. <strong>Fancy staying here?</strong> The quirky Big Island B&B is Hawaiian-owned and full of local charm, set in an elegant old plantation house. </p>
- Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
Set on the Coromandel Peninsula, this strip offers the seaside equivalent of under-floor heating. Subterranean hot springs filter up through the sand, and either side of low tide, visitors can burrow down and create their own hot-water pool in which to soak. It's a sort of peculiar, DIY thermal-bath experience. <strong>Fancy staying here?</strong> For proximity, try the Hot Water Beach Park on Hot Water Beach Road. For a dash more luxury not too far distant, <a href="http://www.holidaysplease.co.uk/" target="_blank">Holidaysplease.co.uk</a> suggests the historic Whitianga Hotel, set on the town’s pretty marina.</p>
- Maho Beach, Sint Maarten, Caribbean
If you like a little aviation action with your beach holiday, this is ideal. Set just a fence away from one of the Princess Juliana International Airport’s runways, Maho is perfect for watching huge Boeings swooping in to land. As you’d expect, the cove has become a planespotter’s pilgrimage; its Sunset Beach Bar even reportedly has a speaker that broadcasts transmissions between pilots and the airport's control tower. <strong>Fancy staying here?</strong> The right room at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort allows you to watch Boeings from your bed, or jumbos from the Jacuzzi... </p>
- Traigh Mhor Beach, Barra, Scotland
Then again, any self-respecting aviation beach-buff knows that Maho doesn’t even compare to Barra, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides – for here, the beach is also the runway. Twin Otters from Glasgow and Benbecula land directly on the wide sand of Traigh Mhor – or at least they do when the tide is out. Yep – it’s a pop-up airport. On a cloudy day (this is the Outer Hebrides, after all…), additional light is provided by vehicles in the car park. <strong>Fancy staying here? </strong>To get really close to the aviation action, try the Eoligarry self-catering cottage. </p>
- Loango National Park, Gabon
Sprawling Loango extends to miles of pristine beach, enabling animals including elephants, buffalos, wild pigs, gorillas and ‘surfing hippos’ taking a dip in the ocean. <strong>Fancy staying here?</strong> Try the coast-side Loango Lodge. It's advisible to leave your own trunks at home and just watch these strange swimming spectacles from the safety of the shore. </p>
- Cow Beach, India
The madness of Goa's Cow Beach sees heifers hurdle and bulls blundering in search of a tasty lunch, with cattle generally sprawled on the brown sand while working on their tans. Despite the inevitable sanitary issues, the beach remains full of human visitors, too. <strong>Fancy staying here?</strong> There are actually a few beaches in Goa frequented by cows, but the classic is Palolem, between Gokarna and Majorda. <a href="http://www.holidaysplease.co.uk/" target="_blank">Holidaysplease.co.uk</a> recommends the SwaSwara Resort in Gokarna; it’s a bit hippie and holistic, but also peaceful and luxurious.</p>
- Barking Sands Beach, Hawaii
How about a beach that sounds like a dog? The squeaky golden grains on Hawaii’s Barking Sands Beach emit a canine-like sound when rubbed. This is a phenomenon caused by a particular kind of quartz, and is actually present on beaches in the British Isles; but Barking Sands ramps the weirdness factor up numerous notches by also housing a rocket-launch site. Oh, and a missile-defence testing centre. There’s barking, and there’s barking mad. <strong>Fancy staying here?</strong> Real devotees will hole up at the Barking Sands Beach Cottages Resort, which are part of the Missile Range and thus very, very close by – the only small snag being that you need to have served the US military to get digs here...</p>
- Glass Beach, California
For much of the 1900s, locals in the coastal California town of Fort Bragg threw rubbish onto their local shoreline, a place known subtly as ‘The Dumps’. In 1967, the area was closed for a long, gradual clean-up; one aided, in part, by the ocean’s waves wearing down all the leftover glass into smooth, multi-coloured trinkets. ‘Glass Beach’ reopened in 2002 as part of the MacKerricher State Park, and is now a confirmed tourist attraction. <strong>Fancy staying here? </strong>The closest accommodation is the Glass Beach Inn, a dainty B&B, but as Fort Bragg is rather lacking in opulence, try the Heritage House Inn, 37 attractive seafront acres around an ivy-coloured main building in Little River.</p>
- Punaluu Beach, Hawaii
Take the perfect white-sand beach of clichéd brochure covers, imagine the complete opposite and you’ll have some idea of what Punaluu looks like. It’s rocky, cold-watered and entirely black, its basalt sand being the product of ancient volcanic lava cooled by the sea. All of which seems to appeal to endangered Hawksbill turtles, who are regular frequenters of this curious cove. <strong>Fancy staying here?</strong> Sea Mountain Resort has a collection of condos and cottage-style ‘apartments’. There’s also an 18-hole golf course adjacent while just up the road is Kilauea, considered the most active volcano in the world...</p>