Report - - Swaledale Lead Mines 1 - Beldi Hill (Yorkshire, 2020-2022) | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Swaledale Lead Mines 1 - Beldi Hill (Yorkshire, 2020-2022)


28DL Regular User
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This is an ancient lead mine at the western end of Swaledale.
Like all the mines in this region it was most active from the early 1700s until the late 1800s, although lead was being extracted on a small scale for centuries before then.
Beldi Hill itself is probably best known for a protracted legal battle over who owned the mineral rights under an otherwise worthless bit of land, with one of the protagonists (Lord Pomfret) ending up in the Tower of London.
The mine itself is fairly complex with different groups of ‘adventurers’ burying in from various directions to get at the ore veins which run roughly east-west through the hill.
The map below shows many levels, or tunnels, and three mills, two for processing the ore and one for smelting it.

The mills are now just ruins so the main aim was to find out how many of the old tunnels are explorable.
These are undoubtedly well known to locals but there are very few photos available - nothing at all for most of them.

This report is more like a survey - I had to walk through the area anyway en route other things so each time had a look for a few more holes.
In summary of the fourteen levels shown, I couldn’t find any trace of five, five more were either collapsed or badly flooded and the remaining four were between 100 and 500 yards long.

None of these old holes are in particularly good condition, particularly the sections through softer strata, so I drew the line at too much crawling around or climbing stuff - I’ll leave that to the underground types.
As usual pictures are phone for above ground and a mixture of phone and camera for below.

A view of most of Beldi Hill from the other side of the valley showing spoil heaps from four of the levels.

A view from the south, with the remains of a smelt mill on the right, its flue going up the hill behind.

The mill operated from 1770 to 1883 - not much left now.

Moving up Swinnergill Beck, first is the Parkes Level, which was built c1746 to drain the three main veins crossing the top of the valley.
And it’s still draining away with rather too much water and silt to be negotiable.

A view of the top part of the Swinnergill valley, where according to the map there are three more levels.

I couldn’t find Hutchisons Level although the associated shaft (filled in) is still there on top of the hill.
The Sun Vein Level looks more like a cave from the outside, and there’s not much headroom in this one either - it may be wadeable if it deepens further in (these things usually improve away from the entrance).

The North Vein Level is next to some ore bins, but ends almost immediately in a shaley collapse.

Moving to the other side of the hill, five levels are shown near the Old Field Hush, an artificial valley formed by an early type of hydraulic mining.
This was worked from 1738 up to about 1880 - views up and down the north branch of the Y-shaped valley.

Above this is the Katy Will Level (I think) - anyway, another flooded one.
The top picture was taken above the entrance looking back down the spoil heap.

The only other level I found in this area was Jammy Milner’s.
This is above a large and obvious spoil heap and seems to be someone’s dig project - I didn’t crawl down the tube to see how far they’d got.

I couldn’t find any entrances for the Star Vein, Thomas Raw’s and Calvert’s Levels - some may be under all the rubble strewn around by the hushing.

Moving east a bit, the picture below was taken at the approximate position of the Crowbeds level, driven above the main limestone and another one I couldn’t find.
However there’s a good view of some nearby features from here.

The buildings centre left are Crackpot Hall, which despite the name is just a ruined farmhouse - nothing in here except rusty tat.

Out of view on the left is a former smithy which still has its hearth.

Right of centre on the view above are the remains of a crushing mill and some ore bins.
The mill was water-powered and the exit culvert is about the only thing still identifiable.

The most obvious feature of the view from Crowbeds is the the three spoil heaps converging on the level immediately below, the Crackpot Hall or Beldi Hill Top Level.
There was a partial blockage immediately inside the entrance which I had to enlarge a bit to slither over without touching the roof.

Another minor constriction at the end of this leads to a shaley tunnel.

I stopped here, mainly because the tunnel is only about 4 ft high and looked like hard work - it seems to go on a bit though.

Moving downhill, there are two entrances to the east, White Wallace and New Levels.
I couldn’t find White Wallace, but the New Level was straightforward and went on quite a long way before disappearing up a mud ramp through a hole in the roof.

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28DL Regular User
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Just along the path is Landy Level, easily identified by the waste spilling down to the river.
This is another easy one which goes quite a long way, with some worked out areas above.

Worked out space above

A section of air duct I think.

I stopped here as it was turning into crawl.

Back out.

Now the Low Level, down by the river which goes pretty much straight in for about 500 yards.
It was originally connected to both Landy and Crackpot levels along the Sun Vein and was abandoned in 1882 after a flood.

The last photo shows a rise on the left, with what may be turns into the Sun Vein in front.
However the orange gunk was emitting a bit too much rotten egg smell for comfort so I called it a day here.
These mines are actually quite well ventilated, but you still don’t mess with H2S in confined spaces.

Finally a few pictures of the crushing mill next door - apparently one of the better preserved ones, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1015408?section=official-list-entry.
Water-powered, although all the machinery has gone except for some counterweights for the rollers.

Ore chute

Walking back to Keld along the River Swale - the spoil coming down the hill on the right is from the Landy Level, which if you have limited time is probably the easiest and safest one to do.



28DL Regular User
Regular User
I can tell some hard work went in to that great report cracking pics as per standard enjoyed all the different styles of the tunnels :thumb

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
What a cracking report. Really enjoyed this. Photos are fab. Everything explained and mapped lovely. Top draw this :thumb