As the Lake District joins the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef and Grand Canyon on the list of Unesco’s world heritage sites it is easy to forget that all but the high fells are largely a manmade landscape. Indeed sheep farming is probably the main reason behind this new status not that everyone agrees with it. But mining and quarrying have also dramatically altered the landscape. A 13th century document tells of gold, silver, copper and lead mines in the Newlands valley. This is thought to be Goldscope mine and the foot of the Handscarth ridge. Yewthwaite Mine is below Cat Bells, probably the most popular fell in the Lake District. Most visitors however are unaware of the mining activity that took place on its western flank. It was operational in the later half of the 19th century working on a vein of lead. There was also a vein of copper but this was not fully developed. The galena extracted was dressed on site using a crusher with power generated by a water wheel on Yewthwaite Beck.
The high peak on the far right is Causey Pike, 637m high with a southern flank giving one of the most relentless, steepest climbs I have ever done.
A short break from watching my DoE group toil up to Windy Gap from Black Sail YH to nip across Great Gable and spend a moment’s reflection looking down on Wasdale, a perfect valley.
Crummock Water and Buttermere, in prehistory both were once part of a single lake until the alluvial fan from the sediments coming down Sail Beck separated the two. Nicholas Size coined the name the ‘Secret Valley’ for Buttermere in his 1920’s book. It tells the story of Saxon and Norman attempts to conquer the Norse settlers of Lakeland. Before the modern road around Rannerdale Knotts was made Buttermere was hidden from view up Crummock Water. In the 1070’s Boethar the Younger chose this hidden valley as his base to defend Lakeland and to carry out guerrilla attacks against the Normans. The name Buttermere derives from Boethar’s mere.
Another week, another DoE expedition. And a return to Coledale Hause, the high flat col between Hopegill Head and the 839m high Crag Hill.
On an otherwise overcast evening shaft of sunlight falls on Sharp Edge, the notorious eastern ridge of Saddleback, the alternative name for Blencathra. Hallsfell Top is the higher left hand summit and Atkinson Pike is on the right above Sharp Edge.
Late evening cirrus clouds portend a warm front on the way. Great Dodd and Clough Head, two tops at the north end of the Helvellyn ridge.
A quiet, secluded tarn on Watendlath Fell.