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Report - Broughton Mills Slate Quarry/Mine - Duddon Valley - Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by The Lone Ranger, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. The Lone Ranger

    The Lone Ranger Safety is paramount!
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    Feb 25, 2010
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    Broughton Mills Slate Quarry/Mine – Duddon Valley



    There isn’t too much if any history on this green slate mine; the Duddon Valley however is one of the quietest and most unspoilt valleys in the Lake District National Park. Approximately 9 miles long it has a Post Office, a Pub, a campsite, 2 churches, a number of hamlets and farms and a fair smattering of quarries and mines cut into the fell sides high above the River Duddon.

    None of the mines are anywhere near as extensive as the nearby Coniston Copper Mines and the majority of quarries are a lot smaller than Hodge Close, Tilberthwaite or Cathedral Quarry, which are just over the hill. They are however a lot less frequented, which for me makes them more appealing for me.

    Mines first appeared in the Duddon Valley around 1235, charcoal burning started in the valley in the 13 hundreds which must have supplied the couple of forges operating by at least the 1500’s. The blacksmiths worked the iron and copper mined in the valley.

    Slates were also mined to provide roofing material for the local houses, farms and barns, additionally they were exported out of the valley by the ‘slate cart’ still remembered by the older folks of the valley and at the time was the main communications with the outside world, the driver would accept shopping or delivery commissions as few people left or entered the valley.

    These days jackdaws nest in the empty quarries and owls and bats nest in the adits and shafts of the now derelict mines.

    My Visit

    Over the years I have spent a fair amount of time in the Duddon Valley, probably the last 11 New Years Eves for starters. The many quarries and mines are visible on the high fellsides and valleys, but apart from the odd wander around a quarry or two, and poking my head into a flooded adit, that’s as far as my exploring has gone apart from Crook Wood Mine/Quarry last year; Conistone and Hodgeclose being near tended to lure me away.

    This year I though I explore some more of the local stuff, hours of searching found locations, but again very little information or history on any of the Duddon Valley sites.

    Luck was on my side and after a nice family stroll to the local hostility I got a few spare hours on New Years Eve for my final explore of the year. By this point the weather had turned from bad to horrendous again, after sailing my car as far up the fellside as I could I then got blown the last section to where this mine was meant to be located.

    Broughton Mills Slate Quarry is more a mine than a quarry, in fact there were no rock faces, just 2 nice 5ft diameter holes disappearing into the hillside.

    My Report


    I knew I had reached where I was going due to the spoil flowing down the hillside, a narrow channel showed the way in I thought, alas the metal grill and gate was securely fastened, my torch light when shone in just vanished into a huge space giving no indication of what was hidden below the hill. At this point I was glad that I was out of the wind and rain, but pissed off that there was no way in this way!


    I had seen a few images from inside here, so knew it was possible, there was a huge opening in the hillside high above and probably a 30 minute walk which was the entrance to another mine which I had no information on, but though I may as well head off that way only to see some more spoil and another audit in the hillside nearby.


    This one I found out quickly to be gated too!


    Once inside I was amazed at how quickly this mine opened out, by far the largest one I’d visited in the Duddon Valley.


    The interesting entrance causeway had a large cavern dropping away on either side as well as a 5ft diameter audit heading off into the distance.


    As if often the case with a few hours escape from the family, that’s all it was and with no mobile phone reception I had given myself 4 hours for a round trip thinking it was probably on a similar scale to Crook Wood Mine before anyone should start getting concerned. I decided to head down the larger left-hand chamber and see where that went.


    It was a large chamber, with no real evidence of any workings apart from the shot holes in the walls. As you dropped into the chamber it opened out and climbed steeply up.


    About half way into the chamber was an interesting side audit with a couple of drums and fridges, a small very muddy tunnel led off through crushed bits of metal. This I decided to leave for another visit (if at all).


    From here I followed the ramp up noticing another small audit heading off into the hillside.


    Getting to the top of the ramp I had a sense of Déjà vu, I was back on the entrance causeway after doing a full 360 degree tour of what I thought was 2 chambers, instead it was just 1 large one which went around in a huge circle. This is looking down the right side from the causeway.


    The choice now was to see where the continuation audit from the causeway went or descend and see where the non-muddy audit went within the first chamber. No choice really, option 1 it was.


    It was good to see what would have been the imprints of railway sleepers in the floor of the tunnel, the rails and sleepers removed long ago. Unfortunately after not too far into this tunnel I came across what looked like the end of the road.


    A closer look found a tight squeeze over the top into a huge chamber, bigger than anything I have seen in the Duddon Valley and probably even in the Coniston area. The chamber is about 70m x 50m and up to 25m high.


    Looking back you see the first locked gated entrance in the centre of this image, possibly this was made redundant as they enlarged this chamber as the marks of the tracks are at a lower level.


    A view back up the chamber after descending, I could see 2 further audits down here, but time was getting tight for me. I decided to look down the larger of the 2 which after a short tunnel took me into another reasonably sized chamber and the end of the line on this branch.


    It was time to head back through the way I’d come as I’d left my camera bag in the tunnel near what I thought was a dead end.


    I popped my head into the other tunnel on the way back to my camera bag, I found this to link this chamber to the 1st chamber below the causeway and in essence tied up all the loose ends I had not headed down, well apart from that muddy one near the fridges.

    After a very pleasant New Years Eve in our mountaineering hut with 5 other families, it didn’t take much to convince the kids to pay the mine a visit on New Years Day instead of watching the rain and condensation on the widows of the hut. 10 kids and 8 adults had a very nice New Years Day stroll in this mine, I only took the 1 image, a nice 12 minute exposure in the largest chamber.


    A great end and start of the year for me, always good to see something a bigger that the other holes I have crawled into in the Duddon Valley.


    #1 The Lone Ranger, Jan 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
    Raz and aricooperdavis like this.

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