West Stonesdale lead mine MYD20709 (c) YDNPA, 2023
This leadmine is particularly interesting because it only operated for 11 years (1850-1861) and was then abandoned when the lead ore ran out. Because the site is remote the structures are well-preserved and give us a window into just what a mine ‘adventurer’ needed to invest in when starting up a new enterprise in the mid-nineteenth century.
The vein of lead was far underground here so access was through a deep stone-lined shaft up which both the miners, their equipment and the lead ore and waste was hauled using a hydraulic (water-powered) engine. The remains of the shaft head complex and impressive engine house built from sandstone blocks can be seen. The solid construction was needed to cope with the vibration of the engine inside.
Hydraulic engines were relatively rare in the north of England at this time and West Stonesdale must have been the envy of other local mine managers. Not only did it run the winding gear, it also pumped water out of the mine. The pipe bringing the high-pressured water supply needed to operate the engine runs into the site from the east and was carried over the beck in a stone-faced earth ramp.
Location Although not far from the road this is quite a remote site. 700m west of Keld leave the B6270 and take a road on the right signposted Tan Hill. The road crosses the river and then ascends very steeply around two very sharp hairpin bends. 700m past the small farming hamlet of Stonesdale there is a metalled track on the right, signposted Public Bridleway Tan Hill. This is also a private road to Frith Lodge – there is no public vehicle access along the track. The track descends into the valley, across a small stream and then after 370m the bridleway leaves the track on the left. Take the bridleway and follow the valley north for 330m. The ruins of the Mine are now in front of you.
Public Transport Details Nearest village: Keld. Call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608 to plan your journey. After the welcome message key in 885 for North Yorkshire information.
Accessibility The bridleway, once it leaves the private road, is very rough and wet in places.
There is very limited car parking along the road 180m north of track.