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swirl how

Mining began in the Coppermines Valley almost 400 years ago.  Most of the visible remains date back to the 19th century.

A scene of devastation in the sun, yet the valley takes on a dramatic brooding quality on a cloudy autumn day.

Almost 3000 tons of copper ore per annum were extracted during the 1850s.

The ore was brought down the mountain to Coniston Water from where it was shipped to Greenodd for onward transportation to the smelters in South Wales.

Almost 400 people were employed in the valley during the mid 19th century and the housing built to accommodate these miners influenced the development of Coniston.

Irish Row within the Coppermines Valley, so called because of the Irish labourers who lived there.

The ‘Banks’ on the fellside above Coniston.  Many houses for miners were built here.

The Coppermines Valley leads up into the heart of the Coniston Fells through some rugged mountain scenery.

The Old Man of Coniston hangs over the village like a benevolent giant but it is only one mountain in a range of fells that dominate the south-west Lakes.  Just a few feet less in height, it is in fact, Swirl How that is the hub of the Coniston Fells.

The summit of The Old Man from Dow Crag.

Boulder Valley beneath The Old Man of Coniston.

Wetherlam above Skelwith Bridge.  Beyond, upon the horizon to the left, stands The Old Man.

The rocky summit of Swirl How with Wetherlam in the background.

Both The Old Man and Wetherlam have seen their fair share of mining activity over the centuries.  The Old Man and the southern flanks of Wetherlam were the site of the copper mines, while Wetherlam’s north-eastern slopes, where they reach into the Little Langdale valley, were exploited for their rich source of slate.

By the end of the 1890s the price of copper had fallen and the workings had reached an uneconomical depth.  After over 300 years of copper mining the mines were finally abandoned.


Below - the Coniston range as seen from Brantwood, home of John Ruskin


Hereward makes a journey into the heart of the Coniston fells to discover the setting for our Wetherlam Cottages.  It’s a story of mineral rich mines and dramatic mountains