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" Richard and Rosie ~ More to Explore "
Date & start time: Sunday 16th September 2012.
Location of Start : The red phone box, Loweswater , Cumbria, Uk ( NY 143 211 )
Places visited : George Fishers in Keswick, Honister Slate Mine and the Kirkstile Inn.
Walk details : Local walks only but above and below ground.
Highest point : Lunch(top floor of the building) and the Mine Tour.
Walked with : Richard, Rosie and Ann. (Harry and Bethan stayed home)
Weather : Overcast with occasional heavy showers.
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Richard and Rosie's second full day and there's still plenty to explore close to home.
A trip to Keswick for lunch and then a journey underground on the way back . . . what more do you need ?
Richard wanted to buy some boots so we drove to Keswick
and called in at that famous emporium selling Hiley recommended outdoor gear.
Due to the later start, our visit coincided with lunchtime
so we climbed the stairs to Abraham's Restaurant on the top floor in Fishers.
Well . . . you can't ignore the trip advisor reports can you ?
- - - o o o - - -
We had pre-booked a visit to Honister for the afternoon
so after a pleasant drive up Borrowdale we climbed the Pass and parked up at the mines.
Fortunately the weather after lunch was better and the mountains were basically clear of cloud.
The Mine Tours start in the shop . . . well it's a great place to gather and wait for everyone to arrive.
A short introductory video about the mines and the safety routines for the afternoon.
It's "All Aboard" the Honister bus for the brief ride up to the mine.
Yes . . . we're taking this big bus up that little track ahead !
All safely out . . . now all he has to do is turn it round to go back down.
Our guide for the tour was Rowland who introduced us to the mine.
He explained it was the last working underground slate mine in England and gave an insight into the walk ahead.
A brief look into a miner's bothy, one of many scattered around the fell side.
They were used by the miners when they were not working, as many travelled too far from home to return there each night.
Follow the person ahead and stay between the lines . . . and don't forget to duck your head . . . except Ann of course !
The valuable sedimentary rock was sandwiched between huge slabs of volcanic lava.
The inclined roof was that volcanic rock which had been tilted over the millennia and now provides the roof to the chasm.
All this open space had at one time been pure slate which had all been cut and cleared by the miners of old.
Rowland discussed the early mining techniques using drilling rods and hammers to cut a bore hole into the rock.
Until the start of the twentieth century, this would have been done by hand
by the miner, his family and relations working in gangs, all men some as young as eight years old when they first entered the mine.
The youngsters would hold the drill and their older brother would strike the end with a sledge hammer in order to create the borehole.
At the end of the day, their dad would fire the hole with gunpowder and they'd go home while the dust settled.
Next day they'd return to extract the slate 'clog' for their dad to 'rieve' into roofing slates outside the mine tunnels.
As time went on, the advent of machinery made this process quicker, less labour intensive but no doubt noisier.
The roofing slate they created was good for 300 to 400 years on the roofs of buildings they have been placed on.
Welsh slate (Rowland was keen to point out) lasted less than half that time due to the softer nature of their rock.
As for overseas slate . . . well he didn't have a good word to say . . . mere novice rock in comparison !
The mine is over 400 years old.
For most of that time the workings were all dug, and the stone transported by man power alone.
The advent of mechanisation and the digging of the 45 degree incline opened up the mine and increased production.
We walked through the mine, underneath the great slab, down to the next level.
Rowland talked of the slate, the men who worked it, the history of the mine and its potential in the future.
Mark Weir had great plans . . . and the mine will continue on . . . to live the dream that he cannot.
Tourism, diversification and the original concept of slate will all blend together to continue to give employment and life to the valley.
Time to leave the Kimberley Mine to the darkness of another hour without people.
Through the tunnels, we make our way out to the light . . . of day.
Oops . . . it's raining again !
Rowland was keen to point out the features of the mine, the various levels of the slate workings
and the new "Via Ferratas" that have helped restore profitability to the company.
Note the handrails, cables and walkways that blend so well into the quarried outline of the crags.
( p.s. photo taken earlier before we entered the mine ... this was the top entrance level, not our recent exit)
This is what it was traditionally about . . . roofing slate ready for sale.
If you have time, do make sure you give the Mine Tours a go.
Any description of mine can only be a small part of the many things you will learn on your visit underground.
- - - o o o - - -
Time to return home.
Our route takes us down the Buttermere Valley . . . past the famous Pine Trees at the head of the lake.
The dampness of the day gave way to a rather nice sunset.
The light in the sky provided by the sun setting over the Solway Firth.
Richard and Rosie could only stay one more evening . . . I know two others who will miss their company too.
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220 or my Canon G10 digital camera.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . great venues to visit on a poor weather day.
Previous walk - 15th September 2012 Richard and Rosie's Grand Tour
A previous time up here - 18th February 2012 Bec's World Tour of the Lakes
Next walk - 22nd September 2012 Hopegill Head via the Slabs