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Middle Saturday

The middle Saturday of our two week holiday. we hadn’t really planned anything specific but the weather looked a bit shady and three of us were kind of tired after the previous day’s exersions. So we decided not to attempt another significant walk. We opted to pick “Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum” from the list of proposed activities. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but that’s one of the joys of a holiday.

My day started with toast and sausages. While I was lying in bed I wasn’t feeling particularly sore. But then I tried to get up and regretted it. I was also very, very tired. So some toast and sausages and a stiff coffee helped get me back on track.

The Museum

Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum is a privately run affair near to Threlkeld Village. To be honest, the village seems to sprawl across both sides of the A66 so I have no idea whether it’s actually in the village or not. Anyway, it’s on the south side of the village, nestling on the end of the big ridge that has Helvellyn in the middle and Clough Head at the north end. On the other side, the village sits beneath Blencathra.

According to their own website, the quarry itself is a regionally important geological site (RIGS) and displays contacts between the “Skiddaw Slate” and the granite intrusion, as well as other fascinating features. From what we could tell, the main quarrying was in the granite that forms the Helvellyn ridge.

Back at the plot, we started by paying our entry fee and wandering around the museum part. They have some interesting displays of local and global geology, rock samples, and also a nice array of older mining tools. They also have some quarrying tools, but those are mainly large, mechanical, and outside.

From here we went to the bit the kids were looking forward to. They have diverted a small part of a local stream to run through a flat area of ground. Into that water they periodically throw a number of small but shiny mineral samples no bigger than peas. When raked into the bedrock this gives a not-very-authentic-but-fun-nevertheless opportunity for some panning. You grabbed a pan and a collection pot from the office and just kind of jumped in.

To be honest, when we were there, the water was quite shallow, so we more or less just walked through it picking out the shiny bits from the stream bed. Once the pots were full the kids were still going strong, so I wandered to the office for more rather than let the kids just fill their pockets. They weren’t fussed and just gave me another load for nothing. So that was that.

The Train

1pm was time for us to take the short train ride through the quarry. It was a bit ricketty and took us uphill into the main bowl of the quarry. Up here they had a bunch more quarrying machinery, including a big power shovel. Big enough that we could fit into the bucket.

The train was driven by an older gentleman who had a striking resemblance to Captain Birdseye, but let’s not go too far down that line. I stood chatting with him for a while before the train came. He was a bit old skool but very interesting to talk to.

Lunch O’Clock

The train ride was only five minutes or so. So we got back to the museum before 2pm and decidced we were done at the museum.

Local advice was to go try the Horse and Farrier in Threlkeld village for some lunch. It was a busy little place, but maybe partly because it started raining just as we arrived. But we got seated fairly easily and they did very nice sandwiches.

The rest of the afternoon disappeared in a frenzy of nothingness. We drove home and lazed around for the rest of the afternoon. Then we ventured to the Co-Op to buy some stuff for the evening. I didn’t want much, so I got stuff for nachos. And that was the end of another day, apart from doing a bit of reading before I went to bed.