Lead mining has had a tremendous impact on much of the Yorkshire Dales. Both providing a wealth of fascinating archaeological interest and transforming the landscape in a barren industrial wasteland. Grassington Moor has had a long history of mining. Being flatter than Swaledale and the northern dales and lacking the steep sided valleys, early ore was gained not by hushes and drifts into the hillside but by sinking of shafts to reach the mineral veins. Early shafts were no more than 30 metres deep with the vein being worked horizontally until it became exhausted or unsafe.
In the 19th century the Duke of Devonshire acquired the moor and began a more industrial exploitation. An horizontal adit was driven linking the shafts for drainage and a cupola coal fired smelting mill was built to replace earlier wood and peat fired mills. The cupola mill enabled continuous smelting. In the photo the remains of this mill are at the bottom right of the slope. Fumes from the mill were exhausted via a network of flues to the chimney at the highest point of the moor. This network of flues was to enable sections of flue to be isolated and cleaned out to recover condensed lead without halting the smelting process. The cupola built closed in 1882.
Between 1955 and 1962, Dales Chemicals reworked the old waste heaps for fluorspar and barytes which the Victorian miners had discarded. Many of the buildings dating from this time can be seem on the far left of the photo at the top of the track.