To Force Crag Mine - a Coledale Low Round

Force Crag Mine at the head of Coledale, above the village of Braithwaite near Keswick, is a now a Scheduled Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest. At various times galena (lead), sphalerite (zinc), and barytes (barium) were mined from deep within the fellside below Grisedale Pike and Force Crag. Closing in 1990 after a roof collapse, the last mineral mine in the Lake District, it is now owned by the National Trust. The Trust opens the mine buildings a few times a year for guided tours.

Baryte was particularly sought after during the Second World War as it was used in the manufacture of explosives. Later it became useful as part of the "mud" lubricant for drill tips on oil rigs. Other uses include medical imaging.

At some point when you are in the valley look up to the headland of Scott Crag and Eel Crag. High on the slopes of scree Halifax JP182 crashed in January 1944 with the loss of two lives. It took some months to complete the recovery and some small bits of debris remain to this day.

This walk to the mine is a circular from Braithwaite along both sides of the valley. The outward journey is on a sometimes poorly defined path which could be a little boggy during wet conditions. It is also on a side-slope, a longer right leg may help here! The return is mostly on the wide and graded mine access track and finishes with a narrow footpath quite high above Coledale Beck.