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.
The dry valley of Watlowes above Malham Cove. The stream, outflowing from Malham Tarn is far underground seeping its way through fissures and cracks in the limestone. On the right is Ing Scar and Crag whilst on the top the Ordnance Survey map indicates a prehistoric settlement and field system. A dramatic place to live.
Late Sunday afternoon. The tourists are departing the honey pot of Malham Cove but the climbers show no sign of calling it a day. I was amazed at the number there. Many were using long telescopic poles to click their krabs and ropes onto anchor bolts set in the limestone that would otherwise have been out of reach. I must be out of touch.
It should be so easy. Just take a picture and look it up in the book later. I thought this was an Early Purple but the book says that that orchid has blotched leaves and this one definately didn’t. On the slopes of Moor End Fell above Starbotton in upper Wharfedale.
Quiz question: name the seven tributaries of the Yorkshire Ouse, in order starting from the North? It’s a family trivia question. This is number 4 the River Wharfe just below Kettlewell on a wet afternoon.
A trickle of water flows down Barney Beck, or Old Gang Beck as it was known in the 19th century when the lead ming industry in Swaledale was at its peak. Then there would have been enough water to drive stone crushers housed in a small building which stood adjacent to the beck but long since demolished. Further away up the slope the remains of smelting mill still survives, a reminder of the industry. Here bouse, the lead ore, was fired to a high temperature to release the metal. Either coal, from the nearby Tan Hill colleries, or peat from the surrounding moors, was used to fire the four furnaces in the mill. The pigs or ingots of the pure lead were then transported by packhorse to sea going ships at Yarm and Stockton. A water supply would also have been required in the smelting mill to drive the bellows, carried by a wooden launder or chute from higher up the beck. The mill operated from 1839 to 1881 and replaced two earlier 17th century mills.
Barden Fell yesterday, Barden Moor today, on opposite side of Wharfedale. Barden Beck has two reservoirs; this is the lower one in bleak Yorkshire weather.
In the foreground a grit tray for the grouse. Grouse need a regular supply of grit in order to digest the hard fibrous shoots of the heather on which they feed. Naturally they can use grit from the banks of streams and eroded rock but to make life easier for the grouse grit is provided. Grouse also suffer from the strongyle worm, a parasitic threadworm which cause large annual fluctuations on the grouse population; and of course the number of grouse available for shooting. A drug called Fenbendazole killed the threadworm but the problem was how to administer the drug to thousands of ‘wild’ birds. It was then in the 80s that the gamekeepers came up with a cunning plan, coat the grit with the drug. The result was a 40% increase in grouse productivity. There are some rules: the medicated grit must not be out within 28 days of the glorious 12th, the start of the grouse shooting season in August. This is minimise the risk of the drug entering the food chain. Most estates now use a two compartment grit tray with medicated grit one side and ordinary grit the other. A lid can be flipped over to cover the medicated grit on the appropriate day.
So if anyone is partial to a morsel of grouse choose your supplier carefully for you are entirely reliant on the integrity of the industry. Unlike other meat destined for human consumption grouse are not regularly tested. Of course if you have a threadworm problem …