Date & Time: Wednesday 20th June 2007. 12.30 pm mine visit.

Location of Start : The Honister Slate Mine, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 225 135 )

Walk details : A couple of hundred yards, no ascent , 2 hrs.

Walked with : Ann, Ann's Nephew Paul and his wife Tamsyn, plus Robert their son.

Weather : Sunshine and clouds outside, cool and dark inside.

Robert, aged four, in Honister Mine car park


The signboard proudly welcoming you to the Honister Slate Mine Visitor Centre at the top of the Honister Pass in Cumbria.

We're booked on the 12.30 mine visit, so it was time to book in, grab your green armband, and gather in the shop for the start.

The tour commenced in the yard with a demonstration of the ancient art of slate dressing.

First shape your clog or stone
and then split it into thinner and thinner slices

Click here or on the picture above for sound and video.

( My one and a half minute video should open a new window and play via your Windows Media Player)

( It may take a minute or so to download on slower connection speeds - please be patient )

Make sure your PC speakers are switched on if you have any.

Photo courtesy of the Honister Mine Website Archive

After being kitted out with helmet and torch and watching a short safety video we boarded the bus for the brief ride to the mine entrance.

Our guide explained the history of the mines, the surrounding landscape and why we were perched half way up a 750 foot sheer cliff.

Across the valley, the other half of the ancient Honister story, the Yew Crag Slate Mines.

A horizontal railway led to the cable incline, which joined all the mine entrances on that side.

Below us are the large scree slopes of old, discarded slate.
Ahead is the sloping rock climb, the way to work in olden days.
Today we gathered in the first chamber . . .
. . . and learnt about the old miners.
The children demonstrated the old work methods . . .
. . . that produced the magnificent Kimberley Cavern

Deep underground we heard about the history of the mine, it's resurrection under the guidance of Mark Weir, and of it's future plans.

We walked just a small part of the eleven miles of caverns and tunnels that are contained within the Honister Crags.

A compressed air rock drill from the recent past . . .
and the underground incline, the top section of which is still used today.

In the olden days, the slate was mined and dressed within the hill and carried by sled down to the Buttermere road or by cart to the Borrowdale Valley.

Nowadays it is moved to the top of the mine then carried by road wagon down to the workshops for processing.

- - - o o o - - -

Time to return now, back along the old rail track that carried the slate to the outside world . . .

passing under the great slab of volcanic rock that caps the cave.
All too soon we were back out in the sunshine.

Back now to the waiting bus, we then returned to complete our tour with a visit to the indoor work sheds.

High speed circular saws cut the raw stone to size . . .
. . . using the latest diamond tipped technology.

This is the modern mine workshops, a much more mechanical environment than the old miners would have been used to.

Here is where the stone is now transformed into slate. Here too, the stone is made into nameplates and notices, ornaments and utensils. Today all of the slate extracted ends up being used in some way, and there is no waste !

Profitability is consequently higher than it has been for many years and the mine is now able to employ over forty local people, where as ten years ago it was closed and employed none.

And it all started 450 million years ago

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon G7 Digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . An armband and ticket for the Honister Mine Trip

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© RmH.2007 # Email me here # Guest book (on the front page)

Previous walk - 19th June 2007 Helm Crag with The North Face

A previous time up here - 5th March 2005 Honister and Dale Head in search of snow