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" Honister Mine Tour "
Date & start time: Monday 4th July 2016, 11.30 am start.
Location of Start : The Honister Mines, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 225 135 )
Places visited : Various tunnels and caverns to the Kimberley Incline and back.
Walk details : A guided tour within the mountain, 1 hour 45 mins.
Highest point : Well ... it was all pretty good.
Walked with : Barbara and about 30 other visitors (it was a busy tour).
Weather : Outside overcast threatening rain, inside a steady cool temperature.
© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.
Ann's sister is up in the Lakes for the first time and so we have chance to show her around and enjoy some local walks.
Barbara mentioned that she'd like a visit to the Honister Mines, she had been in caves before but never a working mine,
so this was a great chance to get below ground. Places were available so we drove to Honister and signed in at the shop.
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Ann, having done the mine tour several times, opted for a walk with the dogs on the lower slopes of Dale Head to the twin tarns..
She didn't take a camera so the photos are purely of Barbara and my trip underground.
Honister Hause . . . where Ann went right and we went left.
We have a large group today . . . the 11.30 trip was a popular one it seems.
Donald let us know what to expect when we get inside and to make sure we had the right equipment for our underground walk.
Big bus, small steep roads, those of a nervous disposition please sit on the left hand side.
Disembarkation . . . at the end of the mine road.
The metal steps and handrail are a new addition in recent years and form part of the Honister Via-Ferrata system.
It also seems to be in use by the local dare devil herdwick sheep . . . hold your cursor over the picture for a closer look.
We take the plunge as Donald leads us into the mine.
Follow the old railway lines and preferably stay in the middle for best headroom.
We were introduced to the slate, the methods of mining and the geology that made it all possible.
The slate is contained within bands of hard volcanic rock which are inclined at about 45 degrees to the vertical.
This rock is so strong that they can remove large quantities of slate from beneath it without need to leave too many pillars
so the mine has many of these huge caverns within it . . . just like the one we are in now.
The caverns were huge.
Every cavern and tunnel has been cut by hand and explosive.
All the loose rock you see has been handled by the mine workers at some point over the 400 plus years that the mine has been in existance.
Donald showed us the various methods of drilling holes prior to blasting.
First was with a hammer and steel drill (often with children to hold the drill), then later on using this mechanical rock drill
often called the "widow-maker" because of the dust it created which led to premature lung disease.
Once drilled, the holes were fired with gunpowder rather than high explosive as it gave a much more gentle explosion and didn't shatter the rock.
He explained the equipment and clothing they would have worn,
here showing us a pair of wooden clogs that would not only last a long time but insulate their feet from the cold rock.
Ohh . . . and he found this gruesome human-like arm . . .
a left-over stage prop from a visit by film makers to the mine a few years back.
In the ceiling there were hooks and pulleys
which were used to lift the larger clogs (as a large piece of slate is called) onto the rail trucks.
There are eleven miles of tunnels in the mountain and many of them are connected by this inclined railway.
We take a rock stairway down to a lower level . . . just underneath the volcanic strata of the ceiling.
Looking down the stairway . . . sorry no tripod to steady the hand.
Several rope pulleys remain in the ceiling . . . evidence of times when the working was taking place at a lower level.
Mind your head . . . there's that inclined roof strata again.
Back out into the daylight . . . and the warmer atmosphere of the outside world.
Final questions and a quick count up to make sure we hadn't left anyone inside.
. . . then it was a walk back up the slope to find the bus.
It has achieved the impossible . . . a three point turn on the side of the precipice,
and was waiting to take us back to Ann, the dogs and the world that we live in every day.
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Technical note: Pictures taken with my Canon 1100D Digital SLR.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . commentary from an experienced hand.
Previous walk - 3rd July 2016 - Eskdale with Barbara
A previous time up here - 10th August 2007 The Honister Mine, Cathedral Tour with the late Mark Weir
Next walk - 11th July 2016 - Grange to Watendlath