There is hardly an easier way of getting in amongst the fells than the walk along the gravelled track to Force Crag Mine. Up to your right are the steep bracken clothed slopes of Grisedale Pike. Across the Coledale valley are the fells of Barrow, Stile End, Outerside, Sail, with the dramatic cliffs of Crag Hill at its head. The mine is situated at the far end of this glacial hanging valley.
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, it was the last mineral mine in the Lake District. It is now a Scheduled Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest and is owned by the National Trust. They occasionally have open days and guided tours of the buildings left standing, but it is too dangerous to let the general public into the mine. However you can see some remarkable photos from inside the mine on Mine Explorer.
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.
The access track is firm gravel with only a couple of minor rough bits so should be okay for off-road capable buggies and wheelchairs.
There is a small informal car park at the end of the track near the bottom of Whinlatter pass road just outside Braithwaite. It gets busy although there is a certain amount of churn as people come here for a short walk. There is further parking in Braithwaite, where at weekends you can park at the village school.
If you need accommodation we have details of 101 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the parking area go past the forestry gate and onto the track. It swings right, with a view over Braithwaite to the left, and through the gateway which is usually secured with a tatty bit of rope.
The view into Coledale soon opens out. The fells opposite are Barrow, Stile End with Causey Pike behind it, then Outerside. Down the length of the valley stands Crag Hill, and the dark end of the fell is Eel Crag. When it first appears Force Crag looks quite small.
The mine will eventually come into view at the far end of the valley. It is named after the crag beyond. You'll see two waterfalls one to the left near the path climbing to Coledale Hause and the main cascade which tumbles down to the very end of the road just past the mine buildings.
Once you've done exploring, return to the car park back along the track.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head||10m (11 yards) away|
|The Coledale Horseshoe||254m (279 yards) away|
|A Shorter Coledale Round||460m (506 yards) away|
|To Force Crag Mine - a Coledale Low Round||460m (506 yards) away|
|Words In The Woods||0.8km (0.5 miles) away|
|Whinlatter Forest - Heavy Sides Walk||0.8km (0.5 miles) away|
|Causey Pike and Scar Crag||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|Whinlatter||2.4km (1.5 miles) away|
|Barf, Lord's Seat, Ullister Hill and Seat How||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Catbells and the Newlands valley||3.2km (2.0 miles) away|
|Catbells, Maiden Moor, High Spy - A Half Newlands||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Catbells||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Cumbria Way - Keswick to Caldbeck||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|The National Trust Centenary Stone from Keswick||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|A short walk to Friar's Crag from the Moot Hall, Keswick||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Walla Crag and Castlerigg Stone Circle||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Castlehead Viewpoint from the Moot Hall, Keswick||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Around Derwent Water||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head - A Half Newlands||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Robinson and Hindscarth from Little Town||4.4km (2.7 miles) away|
|Ullock Pike, Longside Edge, Carl Side||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|Skiddaw - Dodd||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|Graystones, Broom Fell and Lord's Seat||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011