Fell walking and an abandoned mine

Early on Tuesday morning I decided to take advantage of the dry weather and walk up a Fell (the local term for the high moors in this part of the world). I really really like the outdoors and the lack of people, cars, planes and avoiding anything in anyway 21st century.

The moors are generally rounded but vast areas of high ground dotted with bogs, meandering rivers and occasional hazards like ravines and abandoned mine shafts so it is best to be alert and sure footed as it is not unknown for people to have accidents and go missing for days or not come back at all, alive that is.

I had already seen on Google Maps that there were some structures on the moor opposite our holiday cottage. It is around 1900 feet up (600 or so metres) and about 5 miles from the nearest village.  I wasn’t sure if I would make it to the top or if I would get lost.

The steepest part was the initial 1000 feet or so with the incline going up less severely afterwards but it also took longer to complete.  The lower levels were full of sheep and rabbits and crossed crossed by streams which sometimes revealed the peat which in the old days could be burned as fuel. Higher up after a few startled grouse it was just me and the rough grass that is the only thing that can grow up there.

Finally just as the sun was appearing, I made it to the top! A vast plateau like area revealed itself, rather barren and bleak but beautiful and quiet.  

10 minutes further further on and two small buildings announced themselves along with a tall slag heap of spoil material from the mine. I gingerly explored the area as it was very creepy with wind blowing through the window shutters, the industrial waste, mine shafts and cave ins as well as very u even and boggy soil underfoot.

I’m glad I made it to the top so easily after a local warned me it was a long  and rough walk. It was also really fun to go exploring and seeing somewhere long forgotten by the world.  Most of all I liked the peace and quiet and openness of being on top of the moors.

Going up the moors

The road less travelled

 North Dakota or Northumbria?

   My new Zombie safe house 
  If you were Rick or Darryl in The Walking Dead would you go inside?This was a very creepy and lonely place with wind blowing through the window hatches like in a horror film.  
  The slag heap or spoil from the mine… Very dangerous to go near.  
  On top of the world!  
    Finding a track back down to the valley.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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9 Responses to Fell walking and an abandoned mine

  1. Moritz says:

    Very interesting pictures. It’s nice to see something you don’t see every day on a travel blog! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like a lovely walk. I frequent the Middlesex Fells north of Boston, Massachusetts; off the top of my head I can’t think of anywhere else in the US that is called fell or fells. The big difference is that our fells are forested! However, they are extremely craggy and were probably never used for agriculture, hence the presence of the state park.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! Thanks for your comment. I have a friend in Franklin near Boston. I haven’t heard the term Fell or Fells used anywhere else in Britain either. A lot of people from here went to the USA and other English speaking places in the 17th-early 20th centuries due to poverty and obviously tough lifestyle and climate.

      I gave actually been invited to the City of Pittsburgh 200th anniversary party as an ancestor left this very area and was one iof the first mayors if that city.

      There are forested areas but nearly all in the lower valleys and most of them now commercial pine plantations. I believe the snow but particularly the wind mean trees can’t really grow here up high and the soil is very thin and acidic.

      Nearly all the Fells here are rounded but massive as opposed to the traditional pointy and more rocky Mountains elsewhere.


  3. Geoff Coupe says:

    Stephen – what lies behind your comment about the slag heap: “very dangerous to go near”? Poisonous? Danger of losing your footing? Both? Thanks. Nice photos – reminds me of the moors on the Isle of Man, although they are much less expansive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A good question! This one is just a baby but some can be several hundred feet tall. They appear permanent but particularly after rain or snow they can be unstable if you walk on or next to them and they can slide like an avalanche.

      Over centuries they do become overgrown with grass and even trees and the moors are covered with odd shaped hillocks that are grassed over.

      There was once a huge disaster in Wales where around 136 people were killed in a school when a giant slag heap slid down and covered the place. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberfan_disaster

      Some areas of Britain were covered in mountain like heaps of this stuff but work is underway to landscape them or use them to fill in quarries etc but it could take decades.

      Any near roads or houses are secured but still look imposing. Because this one is in the middle of nowhere no precautions have been put in place. Also there have been mines here since at least the Romans and some are abandoned due to economics or the mine running empty or others from disasters and cave ins. Sometimes the old seals or supports collapse or people lose track of them over the centuries so it pays to be careful. Sheep and dogs in particular disappear from time to time.


  4. Malla Duncan says:

    Desolate and eerie. Love it!


  5. Pingback: The Hartley Colliery Disaster of 1862 | Stephen Liddell

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