Force Crag Mine

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.