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Monday, August 27, 2007

Out and About



This is the great water wheel at Killhope Lead Mining Museum at the top of Weardale in Durham. A fitting name for an old lead mine. The average life expectancy of lead miners a hundred years ago was only 45 and the blokes who worked in the smelters died much sooner. But Killhope is more likely a derivation of church (kil/kell) in the valley (hope) and the surrounding scenery supports that. The mine is very close to the divide between eastern and western England. We drove on a few miles and over the top of the Pennines and into Cumbria.


My brother John and his son Martyn donned wellies and hard hats and went on an underground tour of the mine. Both are 6feet+ so they had to spend much of the time stooped over and at one stage, bent double. The wellies were an absolute necessity. The miners in the old days usually died from "Trenchfoot". A rotting-away of the feet because of the continuously wet conditions, which led to blood poisoning and gangrene. It got its name during WW1 because the soldiers in the trenches got the same.

I spent the time up top with my SOL Anita and we fossicked for rock specimens. We were lucky to come home with some pretty quartz crystals, some shiny galena and some fossilised shells. Then we went and sat in the hide for a while and waited for the red squirrels to come out to play.


Anita put some nuts out on the feeder and within minutes two red squirrels came out of the pine forest to investigate. My sorry excuse for a camera managed to catch a shot of one of them racing up the pole to check out the feeder. They then went on to check out every place where food could have been left and lifted up the lids on the birds' nesting boxes. The hide was originally set up for bird watching but squirrels are canny and soon catch on to sources of food.

After that we adjourned to the cafe for a bite to eat. I was too hungry to try out the home made cheese scones and polished off a bowl of home-made macaroni cheese, which was great. The others had a snack followed by wonderful home-made puddings like apple pie and jam roly poly. I must return to try out the scones. The Cafe in Wolsingham, called Julie's, does a wonderful home-made cheese scone topped with ham, tomato and melted cheese. Hard to give it a score because of all the extra stuff on it but probably about an 8. My quest continues.

This is my excuse for not doing any knitting.

Cheers to all Gillian


3 Comments:

  • What a delightful outing. How depressing regarding the life expectancy of lead miners and learning that trenchfoot lead to the demise of many. My grandfather and great grandfather both worked in the copper mines of Butte, Montana after immigrating here. But the conditions were much drier and they left the mining town and migrated to the pacific coast to work in logging camps and take up fishing before any other ill-health effects took hold. We have large, grey squirrels here who are quite clever at getting into bird feeders and the like. Wish I was able to fly over and explore England with you... lack of free time and funds. Bummer. Take care.

    By Blogger Heide, At 6:47 AM  

  • It is so sad to hear of people dying so young back then. I wouldnt have gone into the mine either, although I am sure it would have been very interesting. The red squirrels are very cute. Are they shy. They sound cheeky. I am still waiting to see if you find your perfect 10 for the cheese scone too. Perhaps you will need to make your own.

    By Blogger sue, At 2:57 PM  

  • The red squirrel is absolutely gorgeous, so tiny.

    A lovely spot to enjoy nature. Thank you for sharing.

    By Blogger Jill, At 9:22 AM  

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