When: 09 September 2015
Weather: Uncharacteristically warm late summer evening
I first heard of Carrock Wolframite Mine as long ago as 2007 in the early days of living and working at Blaithwaite House. It was described as a local mine, well worth exploring but with some sensitivity around access. It remained on the "to do" list or even the back burner for the next eight years! Earlier this year when out on a trip to Lucy Tongue Level in Greenside mine led by CATMHS, Carrock came up in conversation: the restoration work undertaken on the Canadian X-Cut entrance; the new "key" system for access and other bits and pieces were discussed. This all led ultimately to Andy Hoe and myself setting off up Mosedale on a warm, late summer, Wednesday evening.
A review of our joint research and a brief look at the map had us seeking the confluence of Brandy Gill and Grainsgill Beck: the evidence of past industrial endeavour in the area is extensive and we were surprised upon approach to the confluence to be met by an information board offering insight into the historical activities undertaken in this area & suggesting the exact location of the adit to the Canadian X--cut! The shortest of walks and we were stood at the recently & impressively restored entrance. Next, getting in... We'd had a bit of a last minute ratch around trying to procure the appropriate "key" so it was with some relief that the gate was smoothly opened!
The Canadian X-cut, as the name implies, driven by Canadian engineers in the 1940's connects the earlier Harding (1900) and Smith Veins. The first efforts undertaken at Carrock were to recover lead from the site in 1870 through Emerson. However, it was the significantly more valuable Tungsten ores of Wolframite and Scheelite that were recovered in abundance by the Canadians from the Harding and Smith veins (north) leading to the mine's most prosperous period. Tungsten originally found use in filaments for light bulbs but latterly its principle use was via the military for hardening steel to be employed in armour plating & shell tips.The mine's fortunes fluctuated with the price of Tungsten and after the Canadian efforts of the 1940's it was to be 1976 before the mine re-opened for a period of six years, its final closure being in 1982. Personally, I find it disappointing that after closure the surface buildings were demolished leaving scant evidence of this particular piece of our industrial heritage.
Underground, just a few metres after the entrance, a cross roads is reached. Everything to the right being the Harding & Smith veins (north) and to the left their south running counterparts. On the evening of the visit we explored just about everything apart from Emerson Vein which is accessed from Harding Vein (North).
Harding Vein (North) is an excellent area for the mine explorer: passages cut through solid rock and chasing the wandering course of a quartz vein; ore pass after ore pass and magnificent stopes extending to great height. We spent considerable time in this area.
A return trip will be needed for Emerson Vein and Harding Vein (South) although I believe the latter extends only as far as a sludge dam. All in all a great evening underground.