One of the nicest things about lockdown easing is that we can now get about locally rather than just staying in our town. We’ve made the most of it over Easter with several trips out, including a lovely one to Coniston on Saturday.
We expected the area to be madly busy thanks to the sunshine and the holiday weekend, but it was actually surprisingly quiet. We got a space in the main car park and headed for the Coppermines Valley, following an old miners’ track which climbs steeply up from the village into a large ‘hanging valley’ left over from glacial times. Nowadays it’s remote and wild, criss-crossed with streams and dotted with Herdwick sheep, but from about the sixteenth to early twentieth centuries it rang with industry as the site of several vast mines that burrowed into the mountains in search of copper ore. The ore was then loaded onto trucks, trundled back down to the village and loaded onto boats to be sailed down the lake (Coniston Water) towards the coast.
Since our last visit (which must be over a year ago) the owners, who also run a series of holiday cottages in and around the valley, have been busy conserving and restoring the amazing industrial heritage the miners left behind. They’ve put up interesting information boards, installed a trail of copper-painted boulders and re-erected a colossal water wheel at the side of the remaining mine buildings.
We poked about happily, soaking up the sun, taking lots of photos of the various exhibits, and enjoying the fresh air and wide open spaces which we’ve missed so much during lockdown. It really was a treat.
You can just see the newly refurbished water wheel behind the building in this photo, along with a copper boulder, a copper-painted mine truck and lots of other bits of mining paraphernalia. It’s a fascinating place to explore! And there’s a Herdwick hiding in this photo. Can you spot it?