South from Braithwaite to the Newlands Centre at Stair, followed by a climb to the top of Rowling End. West to Crag Hill passing Causey Pike and Sail on the way, then a visit to Wandope. Down to Force Crag Mine and finally north-east through the Coledale Beck valley back to Braithwaite. A 12-mile walk in the Lake District.
The best map to use on this walk is the Ordnance Survey map of the Lake District North-Western Area, reference OS Explorer OL4, scale 1:25,000. It clearly displays footpaths, rights of way, open access land and vegetation on the ground, making it ideal for walking, running and hiking. The map can be purchased from Amazon in either a standard, paper version or a weatherproof, laminated version, as shown below.
The view south from Swinside across the Newlands valley. The four highest peaks, from left to right, are Cat Bells, Maiden Moor, Dale Head and Hindscarth.
Looking south-west across the Newlands valley from Swinside. The three fells, from left to right, are Rowling End, Causey Pike and Barrow.
Road bridge across Newlands Beck at Stair.
The Newlands Adventure Centre in Stair.
Stonycroft Gill, which starts on the southern slopes of Outerside and flows east through the valley between Causey Pike and Barrow.
The view north-east from the flanks of Rowling End across the Newlands valley towards Derwent Water.
The view north from the slopes of Rowling End towards the Skiddaw range of mountains.
The view south-west from the summit of Rowling End, height 433 metres (1421 feet). The four highest peaks, from left to right, are High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson.
The route from Rowling End to Causey Pike, and it’s harder than it looks. The very last part of the climb to the Causey Pike summit is a bit of a scramble.
Derwent Water and Keswick as seen from the summit of Causey Pike, height 637 metres (2090 feet).
The path from Causey Pike across the Scar Crags ridge to Sail. Then it’s up to Crag Hill, the high peak in the centre of the picture partially covered in snow.
Looking south from Causey Pike towards Robinson and Hindscarth.
A quick look back at Causey Pike from the footpath above Scar Crags.
Looking south towards Robinson from the footpath above Scar Crags.
The new zig-zag footpath to the top of Sail.
The route to Crag Hill from the summit of Sail, height 773 metres (2536 feet). To the left of Crag Hill is Wandope.
The north-eastern aspect of Crag Hill.
Triangulation pillar on Crag Hill summit, height 839 metres (2753 feet).
Grisedale Pike viewed from Crag Hill. Force Crag Mine lies at the foot of the mountain, and Coledale Beck flows through the valley.
The southern aspect of Crag Hill.
The view south from Wandope. The northern tip of Buttermere is visible in the valley below. The fells behind the lake include Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag.
The view north-east towards Grisedale Pike, the pointed peak in the centre of the picture.
The winding path down to Force Crag Mine, and the shallow U-shaped valley between Grisedale Pike (left) and Outerside (right). Coledale Beck meanders its way along the valley floor to Braithwaite and joins Newlands Beck just west of the village.
Heading down to Force Crag Mine.
Force Crag Mine
Force Crag Mine is the last working mineral mine in the Lake District. Lead, zinc and barytes have been mined at the site for over 130 years. This particular mill was built in 1908-1909 and modified in 1940.
The National Trust acquired the mine and mineral rights in 1979. The mine ceased working in 1991 and was finally declared abandoned in 1992. The mill building was restored in 2004 and is now open for guided tours.
In 2001 Force Crag Mine was recognised as being of national importance and designated a Scheduled Monument by English Heritage.
As the last working mineral mine in the Lake District, Force Crag is a unique site. Scheduling has ensured the protection of the mill buildings and machinery, spoil heaps and remaining workings. The unusual variety of minerals found at Force Crag has led to the site being registered as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Pollution from Force Crag Mine
Between 1835 and 1991 Force Crag was mined for lead, zinc and barytes. Like many abandoned mineral mines, ever since it closed it has been a source of pollution. This is due to metals in the water that drain from the underground mine workings and mine wastes. Zinc is the main cause of pollution, but cadmium and lead are also present in the water. These metals damage fish and river insects in Coledale Beck and have a negative impact on the chemistry of Newlands Beck and Bassenthwaite Lake.
A partnership of experts from Newcastle University, the Coal Authority, the Environment Agency and the National Trust designed a solution that uses natural chemical and biological processes to remove the metals from the water. The initiative was funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Two vertical flow ponds were constructed below the mine in 2014. These ponds contain a compost treatment mix, which water from the abandoned mine flows through on its way downstream. Without any need for added chemicals or energy, reactions in the compost bind up most of the metals and prevent them from polluting Coledale Beck.
After just 12 months of operation the Force Crag treatment system prevented over half a tonne of zinc entering Coledale Beck, which is the equivalent weight of three car engines. The Force Crag treatment system is the first of its kind in the UK, but pollution from abandoned metal mines impacts up to 1000 miles of rivers in England. Results of monitoring at the Force Crag treatment system will help to design even more effective and sustainable mine water treatment systems elsewhere in the UK.
The track down to Braithwaite.
The village of Braithwaite, with Portinscale and Keswick in the background.
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