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" Honister Drum House in the Snow"

Date & start time:       4th March 2024.   1.30 pm start.

Location of Start :      The National Trust car park, Honister, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 173 172)

Places visited :            Honister Mine Road, the Drum House, trackway and back.

Walk details :               1.5 miles, 575 ft of ascent, 1 hours 20 mins, excluding coffee.

Highest point :             Walking the whole round when we weren't expecting to.

Walked with :               Loes and the dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                      Snow on the fells, a gentle cool breeze, sunny and fine.



© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


An easier walk with not too much climbing was the order of the day for Loes and Dylan, so I let them pick a location and a route. 

Honister would be great as Loes could walk at least in the view of the snow,

but little did we expect to climb up the mine track all the way up . . . to above the snow line.

Parking at the National Trust car park adjacent to the Honister Youth Hostel.

The snow on distant Helvellyn gave an unreal look to the distant horizon.

Ready to be off . . . a warm jacket and gloves against the low air temperatures.

The chosen route was to walk the mine tracks towards the Honister Crags seen here in the photo.

How far we would get was un-planned and it was just nice to be out in the winter sunshine.

Looking back at the snow on the Helvellyn Ridge . . . it looks a nice day for anyone up there as well.

A slight diversion to the slate plaque on the old aerial ropeway tower foundations.

The engraving on the stone is Kipling's poem " If ".
The second half of the long poem is written on the reverse.

The text is a little difficult to read  in the photo, so if you want to be suitably inspired click here

It was written by English poet Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) about 1895, as a tribute to the colonial leader Leander Starr Jameson,

but I feel it is placed here in honour of Mark Weir, who re-opened the mine and made Honister what it is today.

We stand aside from the mine road as there seems to be traffic approaching.

- - - o o o - - -


The large Volvo load carrier

which had been parked down by the mine buildings

was trundling up towards us

at the start of the long and steep climb up to

the Hopper Quarry complex

at the top of the fell.


As we reached the next memorial sculpture,

the table dedicated to the visit

by the late Duke of Edinburgh to the mine,

the truck was well up the hill

after carefully negotiating the hairpin bends.


- - - o o o - - -

This was the middle bend of the steep climb . . . quite a challenge for any vehicle.

Last November we stood on a similar spot and watched the vintage cars attempt the very same hill climb (link at the end).

Higher now, two bends higher in fact and looking back at the climb we had made.

The walking was made easy by the graded nature of the track.

On the last big bend there's a track leading off towards the face of Honister crags, so I diverted briefly to see what was around the corner.

There I found an old mine truck, its hopper lying at a crazy angle,

plus an old wire drum and 'drum house' that must have supported an early railway incline from this point.

Just a little further on was a top mine entrance from which the slate would have emerged

before using that funicular railway as a means to moving the raw slate to the processing house far below.

Depending on the exact method of production, it may also have carried cut slate manufactured within the mine.

A brief  and slightly brisk walk allowed me to catch up with Loes and the dogs.

She was delighted that she's made it up all the way to the snow line today !

We leave the mine track and head over to the old tramway

that joined Dubbs Quarry on the back of the fell to Honister.

As we left the track, so the now-loaded truck started it's slow descent back to base.

Another load of crushed slate rock was making its way to market.

We pause and take time to enjoy the scenery.

Here we were looking across to snow covered Glaramara and Rosthwaite Fells.

The smooth snowfield beyond is probably Ullscarf.

We've made it to the "Drum House" marked on the map.

Little remains of the old winding drum or cable, nor the dry stone slate structure that would have supported it

but if you look carefully there is an old brake lever and traces of timber, relics of a bygone age.

This is the start point for the Moses Trodd path which heads off to the left, from here all the way to Wasdale.

Objective achieved, it was time to be heading down . . . back towards Honister far below.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger annotated version of this picture.

The old railway track is now the well used path to Great Gable . . .
Beautiful views of the snow covered fells lay all round.

. . . and traces of old wooden sleepers can also be found beneath your feet.

The snow cover was easing and so it was the last time for Dougal to play snowballs.

Two sentinels mark the cutting for the tramway, as it starts it steep descent to the mine buildings below.

The steepest part of the slope was too much even for the mine workers, so the path diverts before reaching the edge.

The track of the old railway is now re-claimed by nature as it heads on down through the brown winter heather ahead.

The old footpath was upgraded many years ago and was pitched with stone to prevent further erosion.

Back down to the Hause and we rejoin the track at the Mountain Rescue collection box.

- - - o o o - - -

Passing the Osprey statue and reaching the mine cafe

we felt in need of a celebration.

It was limited to hot coffee and a light snack

but it felt like the world this sunny, snowy day.

- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -

Post script:     On driving back to home we came across and helped the owner of this car.

Barely alight when we turned the corner, the car was engulfed in flames in minutes due to an engine fire.

We took him back to Buttermere where he could call the fire brigade and recover from the shock.

There's not a lot of phone signal in this part of the valley !

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with my iPhone 11pro mobile phone camera.

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

This site best viewed with . . . a proper fire engine . . . even a fire extinguisher would have been no use on that blaze

Go to Home Page . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - 3rd March 2024 - Whiteside Snow

A previous time up here - 11th Nov 2023 - Honister Vintage Car Event

Next walk - 15th March 2024 - St Bees Priory Lightshow