The Coppermines Valley.

Start. Coniston.

Route. Coniston - Dixon Ground - Miners Bridge - Red Dell - Kennel Crag - Levers Water - Levers Water Falls - Low Water Beck - Pudding Stone - Crowberry Haws - Miners Bridge - Dixon Ground - Coniston.

Notes. One of the largest scars on the beautiful face of Lakeland, an industrial valley with it's vegetation scoured from the surface, neat spoil heaps, and the remains of mine buildings, some put to good use as hostels and housing, litter the valley floor, crumbling industrial relics cling to the hillsides, shafts and adits cut deep into the mountain sides, remainders of a past way of life, a hard way of life.

The history of mining in this valley goes back 400 years but probably stretches even further back, it's entirely possible the Romans mined here over 2,000 years ago. The 1850s saw mining at its height, with shafts being driven to depths of 1,100ft around 500ft below sea level, accessed using wooden ladders lashed together. By the 1870s the mines were in decline, production had almost ceased by the turn of the century, after a few attempts to save the workings production ended around the 1930s.

An early start to avoid the bank holiday crowds saw me exploring in the rain, with better weather promised I hoped to catch some sunshine before my day was over. I parked on Old Furness Road just off the Walna Scar Road, it was a short stroll down hill to the Sun Inn where a finger-post invited me to Coniston Old Man, I obliged, the path passed through Dixon Ground before following the tumbling waters of Church Beck to the single arch of Miners Bridge, I crossed to enter the Coppermines Valley. At the top of the hill a quarry track ascends across the fell side, following this track I passed behind the cottages of Irish Row, as their name would suggest these were homes to the Irish miners. Eventually reaching the remains of Red Dell wheel house, I continued into Red Dell, a delightful lonely high valley. My exit route, the remains of an obvious incline plane rising to two mine entrances, the path then swung left passing through a nick on the ridge before descending to Levers Water.

To the song of Levers Water Beck I made my descent passing some lofty waterfalls before reaching a wooden foot-bridge, ignoring the bridge I turned right to wander under the cliffs of Grey Crag before a pitch path ascended into the Boulder Valley. The next foot-bridge allowed access to the Pudding Stone, this massive boulder 25ft high is much loved by climbers, with many routes of varying grades crossing it's bulk. Turning my back on the massive boulder I continued on, passing yet more ruinous mine buildings before accessing Crowberry Haws, a left turn and I was descending to Minors Bridge to re-trace my steps through Dixon Ground.

view route map.


Early morning in Dixon Ground viewing Monk Coniston Moor.

Rising above Coniston Water Monk Coniston Moor swathed with the pine trees of Grizedale Forrest.

The single arch of Miners Bridge.

The scene over the Coppermines Valley with the high fells cloaked in cloud.

Looking to Swirl Band above the waterfalls of Levers Water Beck.

Cloud dances across the slopes of Foul Scrow.

Viewing The Bell across Coppermines Valley.

The remains of Red Dell wheel house.

Red Dell backed by the south ridge of Black Sails with Moor How rising in the centre of the shot.

In Red Dell looking at a large bank of cloud spilling into the valley from the south, the fence line guards a line of rather deep, forbidding shafts.

My exit route rising in the shadow of Kennal Crag.

Red Dell probably looks unchanged since the last of the miners abandoned their tools almost a century ago, the mine spoil is mainly quartz.

Maybe a wheel pit, it's in line with the incline plane I'm about to ascend, it's also inline with the Red Dell wheel house just visible through the murk.

Cloud waltzes across the Red Dell slopes of Wetherlam's southern ridge.

Ascending in the company of the ghosts of an industry dead, relics litter the hillsides, quarry spoil, ghostly buildings, carefully guarded shafts, tram ways and incline planes like the one I'm ascending and these....

....levels driven into the mountain side, as their name would suggest on a level following the seam of precious ore, I red recently there could be hundreds of these abandoned levels around the valley, the article also claimed these mines in Red Dell were the last to shut up shop.

Kennel Crag with views over the cloud filled valleys of South Lakeland.

Levers Water backed by Great How Crags and The Prison.

With my back to Levers Water a stunning view over Coniston Water and South Lakeland.

One of many cascades and cataracts that make up Levers Water Beck.

On the skyline Simons Nick and a tale of Fairies, folk law tells us a poor miner by the name of Simon, obtained vast amounts of copper ore from the crag above, under the guidance of the Fairies, questioned many times by his neighbours whom had never been able to find ore in this crag, secrecy being a part of the deal he remained silent, until one evening under the influence of alcohol he told his story, his good fortune immediately ceased. The history books tell another tale, a German miner in the days of the Mines Royal in Elizabethan times mined the seam over many years.

Seen from the descent of Levers Water Beck the Coppermines Valley.

Views up Levers Water Beck.

The famed Pudding Stone.

Looking to Grey Crag with Wetherlam in sunlight to the right.

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