|Shapp Abbey with chicken|
All Creatures Great and Small was filmed, lead mining destroyed the countryside. Smelters were tucked into each valley. Flumes climbed the hillsides; long buildings stored peat and coal, which were mixed together to melt the lead; streams tumbled through the mining sites. The top of the hill where the rocks were gathered was still decimated and bare a hundred years later. We wondered about the impact of all of the smelting on the local population. Clearly, it was not a clean operation. Lead dust must have floated out of the chimney, gathered in the grass, been eaten by sheep grazing the fields lower down, breathed in by children. What was the impact of this pollution? We searched the local history museum in Reeth, looking for a hint of this issue, but nothing turned up. Not a peep. What the lead still around, in the soil, being eaten by sheep? No idea.
When the mines were depleted, they closed down. The population declined, both because of the mines and also because of changing work patterns, as young people moved off of the farms. Now, the farms are consolidated and several are run by one family. The outbuildings are empty (and eyed by city folk as summer homes) and some of the farmhouses in the valley are clearly empty and declining as well. Sheep wander through the old furnace rooms and the building become yet another layer of British history to be puzzled out by walkers.
|Loki Stone, Kirby Steven Church|
|Giant's Pillows-- who knows....|
|Sheep in old mine|