Thatch Mires below Chapel Fell

Weardale in the Durham Dales. A land of underlying sedimentary rocks of limestone, sandstone, siltstone and mudstone cut by deep valleys with wet boggy tops. And isolated whitewashed stone cottages. This is Thatch Mires above the village of St. John’s Chapel.

Yewthwaite Lead Mine

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.

NY2419 map


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.

Buttermere and Crummock Water

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.


Finally blue skies, after a week of rain. And quite warm too until the clag moved in late afternoon. Watendlath nestles between Borrowdale and Thirlemere in the Lake District. The hamlet is the location for the fictional home of Judith Paris in Sir Hugh Walpole’s four book saga of life, intrigue and romance in the 17th century. The dale was once owned by the monks Fountains Abbey but the name is older, it comes from the Old Norse, vat-endih-hlada, meaning water end barn.


A secluded grassy dale in the National Trust property of Bridestones.

Dovedale map

The Esk Valley at Castleton

Looking down Canting Hill from High Castleton. The Danby Court Leet is a manorial court having medieval origins. It is responsible for the Common Land of the Manor of Danby. This is the moorland, village greens, garths, enclosures and roadside verges. The Court is composed of a Jury of thirteen local men with an elected Foreman. One of their roles is to keep a Register of Common Rights which records residents Common Rights on the Common Land such as turbary (the right to cut peat) and grazing rights.

The Esk Valley at Castleton map