Force Crag Mine

As you walk the gently rising mine track from just outside Braithwaite village, it is hard to believe that this beautiful area of the Lake District fells was once the backdrop to a mining industry. Hugging the side of the fell with the winding beck below, you are lead to the head of the Coledale valley and the sheer dark face of Force Crag.

Just so you know...

This article was created before the coronavirus crisis, and may not reflect the current situation. Please check our homepage for the most up to date information about visiting.

For over 200 years men have worked in this isolated spot digging for lead in the early years and then later barites and zinc.

Intrepid workers

During the Second World War, tons of barites were extracted for making munitions. Trucks transported materials from the mine levels high above Force Crag down the fell side along a narrow track beside a precipitous drop.

The operation was very risky particularly during icy winters; as a result an aerial ropeway was built, but this also failed in freezing conditions.

Harsh conditions

The working environment was harsh at Force Crag, huge amounts of water flow through the mine most of the time. In 1990 a collapse occurred at zero level. Water and debris built up behind the collapse which could not be removed causing the mine to finally close.

Open Days

We open the processing mill on certain days every year.

Pease check forthcoming events for the latest arrangements on our 'What's on' page.


There is no parking at Force Crag Mine. You can either walk, cycle or book a place on one of our Landrover shuttle transports (limited places, advance booking is recommended).

To walk in:

  • nearest parking is in Braithwaite village at the Braithwaite Methodist Church - SatNav CA12 5TL.
    At weekends Braithwaite school also offers parking.
  • From Braithwaite walk up the Whinlatter Pass road (B5292) to the first bend
  • Take the footpath on the left that leaves the road on the apex of the bend. This is a narrow path with a steep drop on one side. You may prefer to use the alternative cycle directions.
  • Ascend the footpath until you meet the mine track.
  • Turn left and continue along the mine track for 2½ miles until you reach Force Crag Mine

To cycle in:

  • From Braithwaite Follow the Whinlatter Pass road (B5292) to the first small parking layby on the left hand side
  • Turn left into the parking layby. The mine track continues from the layby.
  • Follow the mine track for 2½ miles until you reach Force Crag Mine.

To book a place on the shuttle vehicle:

  • Please telephone the office on 017687 74649 to book a place on the shuttle vehicle. Office opening hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.
  • Park at the Forestry Commission car park at Noble Knott, Grid Ref NY 223244, 1.25km (3/4 mile) up the Whinlatter Pass road (B5292) from Braithwaite. It's opposite the viewpoint lookout.

Unique machinery collection protected thanks to volunteers

During 2016 and 2017, Force Crag Mine was the focus of a very special project to protect and care for its nationally important collection of mining machinery.

The project was led by Tim Martin of Context Engineering, one of the UK's leading machinery conservation consultants, and carried out with the help of the most amazing group of passionate volunteers.

Watch the film to find out what was involved: