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One thing I did was venture into the
subterranean world of Honister Slate Mine. The Honister mine is situated
in the centre of the Lake District, the terrible weather we had on the
day of our visit, made us think of the working condition that the poor
miners had to work and live in, at the top of the Honister Pass. It was
a very atmospheric place but very much exposed to the elements.
It was very exciting and provided a wonderful insight into the history of this real working mine. We had to put on special safety helmets with cool twisty lamps at the front, which I loved turning on and off, I was very grateful for the lamps and the helmet, as I banged my head twice and also, I don't think I have ever been anywhere so dark or cold in all my life, but it was well worth it.
There were more than eleven miles of tunnels inside which open up into beautiful caverns, that the miners had made – just with a few hand made tools! (Remember, all those years ago, we’re talking about the 1800s, people didn’t have all these high-tech diggers that are used today, oh no, all they had was a hammer, and a chisel and some explosives. So what they achieved was quite simply amazing.
We spent about two hours in the Kimberly Mine named after the South African diamond mine, we also got to take two pieces of slate home with us, (and just to tell you, the slate produced at Honister is called “Green Gold.”) And I am very proud of the slate I got from deep inside a real working slate mine.
I like writing, and while I was in the Lake District I took the opportunity to go to the homes of two very famous people in the world of writing and poetry. First, we went to Dove Cottage, once the home of the famous poet William Wordsworth who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. William lived with his sister Dorothy, whose journal is still available to buy today, and the house was beautiful but very small with low ceilings. We got to see some of the original furniture that was there at the time.
We also went to Beatrix Potter’s house, Hill Top Farm, where this famous author wrote most of her charming little best – selling children’s books. In this house, Beatrix got the inspiration to write “The Tale of Samuel Whiskers” and “The Tale of Tom Kitten” and many more. Like Dove Cottage, Hill Top Farm contained some very old furniture that Beatrix used, even the old doll’s house used in the recent film about Beatrix’s life, Miss Potter starring Renee Zelweger and Ewan McGregor.
The best part of my two weeks in the Lake District, was when my Dad and I, armed with our map and compass, our waterproof jackets spare clothes, and enough food to feed us for three days, climbed Cat Bells. It is called Cat Bells because 'Catt belde' is Old English for the 'den of the wild cat' we didn't see any cats though. It was a long, 3 hour trudge up the mountain, we didn’t rush it because it was a rather hot day and we wanted to admire the views as we walked, (well that was our excuse when we kept stopping, and conversed with people as they passed us at a furious pace.)
It was my Mum’s last climb in the Lake District, she completed it twelve months before she died, so it was sort of a memorial walk for the two of us. It was lovely on top, the views were spectacular, especially looking towards the Newlands valley which lies to the west and it has several impressive summits. Our visibility soon disappeared altogether when the clouds descended so all we could see was a rolling mass of what seemed like cotton wool all around us, it was damp and being in the clouds, and a little off putting for me at first, as it was my first time walking this high, but was fun when I got used to it. It took us even longer coming down, as we could hardly see where we were going, but it was really a great day, and we didn't have to call the mountain rescue team out either!