Day 11 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Drive through Wolsingham on the A689 and keep going through Frosterley and Stanhope. Keep going as the road twists and turns up Weardale through Eastgate, Westgate and St John’s Chapel. The climb starts to get more serious now and the road narrows as it makes its way past Wearhead and Cowshill but you’re still not there.  Keep going. It’s only a few more miles though the road is getting tighter and the low cloud is getting thicker. The road clings to the hillside, twisting and turning, rising and rising and then you are there.

The sign looms out of the mist, four hundred metres to Killhope – The North of England Lead mining Museum.

Turn sharp left just after the Arnco ends and make your way gingerly down the clinker track. Be careful as you have to cross the Wear. She’s friendly today, only a couple of inches high, chuckling her way over the ford but she’s not always so benign.

Pull into the car park, swing your stout shoes onto the ground and make your way to the main buildings. You’re in for a treat.

Michael and his team are there to help. They’ve been working hard over the winter tidying up the place after the storms. Dozens of trees have been felled, roof tiles have been replaced, paths have been cleared and the displays have been completely renovated.

When I arrived it was closed, shut for the winter but it will be open soon and I will come back.

I’m going to experience what it was like to work in a Victorian lead mine high up in the Pennines. I’m going to see the huge working water wheel that powers the works and I’m going to try my hand at being a washer boy, picking through the rock to gather the silvery galena crystals. Of course I’m going to check out the machinery in the Jigger House, stop at the café for some refreshments and buy a souvenir from the shop.

And I’m definitely going down the mine.

The dales are filed with valuable gems and Killhope is one of the finest. When I arrived it was closed, shut for the winter but it will be open soon and I will come back. You should too.

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