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Ben Keen, The Adventure Element director and outdoor instructor, April 2017
Borrowdale has a long history of mining and quarrying, with thriving lead, copper, slate, and graphite mines shaping the landscape and communities of the local area. However, there is only one working mine left in the area: Honister Slate Mine.
Adventurous, expert-led tours of Honister, exploring the geology, social history, and modern management of the mines, are a fantastic way to learn about the many different aspects of this dramatic mountain landscape. It is much easier to understand geology, mining techniques, and working conditions when you can go inside a mountain and engage all of your senses in the learning experience!
We can investigate the mind-sets of the mining pioneers: what thoughts did they have and what decisions did they have to make?
By 1851 there were 4 pencil factories in Keswick, using the locally mined Borrowdale graphite/wad. The pencil-making premises have now moved to the outskirts of Workington, but there is an excellent Pencil Museum in Keswick, on the site of the old factories.
We can examine the influences of mining and quarrying on the landscape. What is the land used for now? What are the issues of environmental management in former mining and quarrying sites? We can visit sites such as Honister Slate Mine, Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum, and Force Crag Mine, to explore the history, legacy, and future of mining areas in the Lake District.
- Learn about mining by visiting Honister Slate Mine in Borrowdale. Look at their KS2 educational resources here.
- Visit the Pencil Museum in Keswick to find out how the Borrowdale graphite/wad was used.
- Visit the Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum.
- Go on a geological excursion in Borrowdale.
- Conduct role plays about the lives of the miners and the history of mining in Borrowdale.
- Read maps and charts to identify mining areas.
- Make a flow diagram to explain the process of mining.
- Draw a sketch map of the landscape and label all of the mining-related features.
- Write a diary entry for a Cumbrian miner and their family – write three entries for three different years, each a century apart.
Group trips on the Keswick Launch
Birmingham University Wilderness Medicine Students
Working together on Derwent Water
Self catering kitchen
Barrow Cascade: the waterfall in our grounds
Carving of the Green Man in Cartmel Priory
Classrooms in the forest
Raft building (and floating!)
Be a Viking for a day!