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MOVIES: Mines around REETH


West Stonesdale mine, also known as both Stonesdale Moor Lead Mine and Startindale Mine was sunk in 1850 by the Blakethwaite Lead Mining Company with the intention to work the extremity of the Blakethwaite vein. Unfortunately the venture proved to be unprofitable at the far reaches as the vein contained little or no extractable ore and the mine was forced to close in 1861 never to be reopened. The building at the head of the shaft housed a hydraulic engine that powered both the pumps and winder that pulled from a depth of 270 feet.
In the movie I mistakenly say that the round building is the base of a chimney, this in fact is an old lime kiln (date unknown) and although the mine is in an area of coal pits and collieries - this mine is in fact a lead mine, not a coal mine as I thought at the time of recording.


This was my first visit to Bunton Level located North of Gunnerside. Originally driven into the hillside as a drainage level, Bunton level winds all the way to join the Old Gang series of mines to the East. The mine broke into the abandoned workings of 1680 at a depth of 102 feet from the surface which consisted of a number of small deep level shafts and ultimately joins into the Friarsfold vein of which penetrated the water table, hence the requirement for both Bunton and Sir Frances drainage levels. This being my first trip into the mine, I take it canny ans stick to the drainage level whilst making my way up towards an internal water control dam. Working further into the mine takes us to a much smaller and wetter area; there are at least two other routes that take a south east direction as well as four ways to access the upper workings. My mind was playing games though for some reason, I was sure I could hear either children or women talking/singing - obviously this was very unlikely and would have been the noise of the water flowing over obstructions on the mine floor. I set the camera and leave it on its own to see if it recorded any of the sounds, it didn't (I think).


On the way driving to the Gunnerside mines we came across what looked like a half decent heap of spoil at the side of the road. Stopping to investigate we happened upon a small adit that runs below the road on the way to Low Row, we couldn't of course drive right past it without stopping to investigate.

At the entrance there is a large pile of profiled stone work which was part of a building or wall that protected the mine entrance, making our way in we find that the floor is very thick and dense mud (we wish we used our full suits rather than just wellies). We find it uncertain as to the reason for the adit as outside there is not enough spoil to warrant a 'mine' which makes this a likely drainage adit, air flow or exploration dig.

Some of the block work passageways are really starting to show signs of stress with some good deformations in the arching, we're obviously not the first to enter as there are a lot of foot prints in the mud which look fairly fresh. The tunnel ultimately leads to a complete blockage though strangely enough the foot prints continue right through?


As we return from the Brandy Bottle Incline we couldn't help but notice that we had passed several other adits on the way up the valley. We decide to pass a bit of time by exploring Spence Level (not to be confused with Hard Level Force, the lower/wetter level).

The working was commissioned to direct water into a series of external ponds via a system of leats that would have been used to power various water powered equipment such as a water wheel (pit evident in the ground not far from the entrance).

As we work our way into the level, we come across a small 'rabbit hole' low to the ground, as we poke our heads into the hole we can hear a strange noise coming from within, we're not sure what was causing the noise but we continue on our way up until we meet a heavy fall. Climbing over the fall we can head up into a stope like area with some massive rocks hanging like grapes in the roof, as we turn around we notice that a particularly large rock is held in place by one rather rotten looking stemple. All exciting stuff!



Having walked for about 40 minutes past the Old Gang smelting works we can't help but find the large double adit entrance to the Brandy Bottle incline, its self an impressive sight.

This is the first time we've been back to this mine for over 11 years, at that time there had been a large collapse in the level and we decided not to explore further. In this movie we return to find that the collapse has been cleared as we make our way down the very steep incline into the workings.

We go as far as the junction in the incline and firstly take a left turn  exploring as much of the area as we can, then return to the junction and continue right down to the bottom of the incline to find a load of smashed wagons (probably having fallen from the haulage).

As we make our way back up we veer off the main drift into some side workings and through some crawl areas that meet up with the top of the shafts that we noticed in the haulage run. This movie is about one hour in length as there was a lot to see!

We return to the incline a second time just a few weeks after the first visit because we noticed that the camera was hunting on the focus during descending the incline. On our return we are armed with a new front element fitted to the camera because the first has a number of small marks that seemed to be upsetting the camera focus.

On this visit we return down to the smashed up trucks at the bottom of the incline but has we ascend we notice a load of funny miners graffiti etched (with soot from a candle) onto the rock wall that shows that someone at the time was upset about some trucks having been stolen. It was worth the revisit to notice the text!

As we continue to ascend the incline we veer off and further explore the right hand passages, at the end of the level (at a collapse) we hear a strange deep distant noise. We decide to return to the small crosscut that adjoins the levels underground before making our way back up the incline to the surface.

Latest update: More 360 degree places added!. Loads of movies recently added in the Weardale area including Groverake, Skears and Frazers Hush mines.

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Safety Notice: To enter a disused mine is extremely dangerous and my result in serious or fatal injury, recovery from an accident would place rescue persons involved in serious danger and in the event of a ground collapse, recovery may be impossible. You should not enter a disused mine or working without training under any circumstances. Respect private property and seek permission from the respective land owner where required, always act responsibly and always inform someone else of your whereabouts.

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