High above the village of Braithwaite at the end of the long and lonely Coledale valley are the remains of Force Crag Mine. Over a period of 200 years, lead, barites and zinc were extracted from rich veins deep underground. Working conditions were particularly harsh with ﬂ ooding being a major problem. A collapse at zero level and in the zinc market eventually caused the closure of this, the last remaining metaliferous mine in the Lake District in 1991.
We hold tours around the unique complete processing mill on open days publicised via our website. The old Coledale mining track is accessible by bike, and when combined with the way-marked National Cycle Route 71 from Keswick it makes a pleasant mountain bike ride.
Cycle to Force Crag Mine
Start: Keswick (cycle hire available)
Distance: 19km (11.8 miles)
Time: 3-4 hours
Height Gain: 200 metres
Valley roads, cycle track, gravel access track.
Maps: OS Landranger 90, Exlorer OL4, Harvey’s Superwalker Lakeland Western (1:25 000), British Mountain Maps Lake
District (1:40 000)
From Keswick Post Oﬃce head NW out of Keswick along Main Street on National Cycle Route 71 (C2C) passing Keswick Mountain Bike shop. Continue straight on following NCR 71 as it leaves town and takes the ﬁrst turning to the left. Follow this track over the River Derwent and into Portinscale.
Turn L (71) in Portinscale and follow the road S for about 1km. Take the right downhill fork signposted Ullock & NCR 71.
In Braithwaite turn L at the Royal Oak onto the B5292 (ignoring NCR 71 sign) and follow it round the bend & uphill to a small parking area beside a sign saying “P ½ mile”. Turn left into this parking area where the Coledale Mine Track starts. Join the track and follow it all the way to the mine buildings at the head of the valley.
To return to Keswick retrace your route back from Braithwaite via NCR 71.
If you feel like adding some more mountain biking to your day, the prepared trails of Whinlatter Forest Park are just around the corner and can be reached via the B5292 (Whinlatter Pass) or return to the Royal Oak turning L onto NCR 71 to Thornthwaite then “C2C Whitehaven” as it climbs through the forest to the visitor centre.
Keswick, Borrowdale and the surrounding valleys are full of great walks, mountainbike and road rides and water sports - not to mention a huge variety of wildlife! Make a weekend of your visit by exploring Borrowdale's Best Bits, climbing Cat Bells and paddling along the River Derwent.
Visit Keswick.org for places to stay.