Force Crag Mine
Force Crag Mine was the last working metal mine in the Lake District, prior to its final abandonment in 1991. The site was mined for lead from 1839 until 1865, and for zinc and barytes from 1867. The job of the mill was to separate these minerals from each other, and from any other minerals and the country rock. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and a geological SSSI (site of special scientific interest). The mine occupies a spectacular location at the head of the remote Coledale Valley, 7 km west of Keswick above Braithwaite.
The mill buildings that you can see today were built in 1908-9 and redesigned in 1939-40. The mill contains the ore-refining machinery that was in use during the 1980s and until is closed, along with some earlier equipment. It is the only former mineral mining site in the country that has retained its processing equipment in something approaching complete order.
The National Trust owns the site, and access to the processing mill buildings and machinery was restored in 2004. Visitors can discover what was mined and follow the processing of the minerals through the mill plant.
Admission into the mine building is via booked tours only, there is no access to the mine itself. See National Trust link below for details.
To get to the mine – from Braithwaite walk or cycle approx. 2¾ miles up to mine buildings, or catch a minibus to the Noble Knott Forestry car park opposite the Bassenthwaite Lake viewpoint (approx. ½ mile from Braithwaite) climbing up Whinlatter Pass towards Lorton.
Related Links :
- English Heritage – Force Crag Mine
- Force Crag Mine – article by Stuart Abbott
- BBC Cumbria – Eel Crag from Braithwaite – a walk in the area, and history of the mine
- Cumbria Industries – Force Crag Mine
- Cumbria Industries – barytes
- Cumbria Industries – lead and zinc