Occasion : An afternoon walk with Ann and the dogs, in the Southern Fells.
Start Time : 1.30 pm Mon 14th June 2004
Place : Holme Fell adjacent to the Hodge Close Quarries in Coniston.
Walk details : 1.5 miles and 650 feet of ascent, plus the quarry walk afterwards.
Weather : Superb sunshine leading to some cloud later. A slight breeze on top.
Mediterranean conditions as we arrived at Hodge Close.
The Tilberthwaite area was heavily mined for copper and slate, and 200 years of activity have created rather large quarries and some rather large waste tips. The main quarry site has an area next to the road divided off to allow for parking.
Lunch before we set off meant less to carry.
With views like this lunch was slightly longer than a mere sandwich or two might suggest.
The climb up to Holme fell from its western side starts opposite Hodge Close Quarry.
Here the quarry sides are precipitous and deep, protected only by signs. This allowed unrestricted views, no worries over possibly rickety fencing (there was none!) and enhances the natural features of this vast chasm. Below the lower portion of the quarry has accumulated natural flood water in a deep aqua-marine colour.
The disused reservoirs ( Holme Fell tarns ?) with the summit behind.
This pool once provided water power for the quarries but is now a haven of peace amongst the woodland.
The pool was also a haven for wildlife . . .
here are just three of many small blue dragonflies on this floating log.
Above the tarn now and the distant fells start to appear over the woodland.
The lower summit is graced with a cairn and a smart red post for some reason.
The final ascent takes the diagonal path up through the rocks.
The dogs are leading the way.
Topping out with a fine view of Coniston Lake to the south.
The weather was cloudier to the west of the Lakes and The Old Man itself never actually broke free of mist but everywhere else the views were wonderful.
To the north we enjoyed a fine panorama of the Langdales and the southern Lakeland fells
Back down to the car and time to explore the quarries a little further.
The main quarry is huge and as well as the pool it has two fine arches in it's northern quarry face. Behind it yet another huge excavation which, being dry and with an old funicular railway slope into it, allowed us to descend into the lower level and explore those arches further.
A central section of rock had been left between the two quarries but large open tunnels had been cut through presumably to allow access to the second section of the slate mine. An old railway gantry is one of the few mining artifacts that have not been removed.
Two shots from the archway looking out.
From the end it was impossible to gauge the depth of the pool despite the clear water. It was very reminiscent of our recent trip to the Slate Islands and the abandoned quarries of Easdale last month.
A hundred or so feet down in the base of the quarry the temperature was considerably cooler, and the air more moist than up at ground level. Here the vegetation was quite different to the birch woodland and the fell side bracken above. The quarry floor was full of mosses, ferns and delicate blue flowers which thrived in the microclimate of this deep cavern.
Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon IXUS 400 Digital camera.
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