Honister Slate Mine
flickr image by Chris Ibbotson

Honister Slate Mine

Honister Pass, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria

The Honister Slate Mine started its operation in the early 1700’s by all records, but also is said to have been mined for its slate by the early Romans and possible in prehistoric times.  Entrepreneur Sam Wright expanded the use of the mine in the early 1800’s with the creation of the first quarries as well as underground mines.

The methods of removal of slate from the mines progressed over the years from dragging the slate on sleds, to the use of pack horses down the steep cliffs to top of Honister Pass. In the late 1800’s owners installed self acting inclines, which were very costly but improved removal of the slate. They would lift the slate up the valley side and then lower it to the other side to the “Hause” or Honister Pass.

Honister Slate Mine

flickr image by Bods

There are three different tours available to you, all exciting and interesting. The “Kimberley” is an inside tour suitable for all ages, on fairly flat terrain, where you guide gives you an introduction to the mine. The Honister is a daring adventure, not for the faint of heart. It’s for visitors that are willing to adventure out to the very edge of the mountain on the trails that lead up and then very deep into the mountain. The tour of the Cathedral Mine is one of the Honisters working mine. On this tour you will see slate mining in progress, and hear many of the funny and sometimes sad stories of work in the mines. This tour goes into the subterranean areas of the mine where you will be given the history of what you are seeing. You will learn about and view this vast operation and the people that made it is today. You will venture down into the more than eleven miles of underground tunnels, visiting enormous caverns where you will learn how the slate is extracted via the process developed over the years.

For an added adventure open to experienced climbers, you are offered the “Via Ferrata” rock face climb with the spectacular Zip Line return.

In 1997 Mark Weir developed and opened the Honister Slate Quarries as a tourist attraction, while continuing to produce small quantities of roof slate.

Date posted: 20th April, 2013

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