On a bitterly cold and grey December afternoon, William and Merryn braved the outside carriages on the Santa Special. They very much enjoyed sitting behind Ian the engine driver and his collie dog Jip, who howled with excitement when the tooting engine horn signalled the start of the ride! Mince pies and mulled wine kept the adults happy whilst there was a trip to see Father Christmas in his decorated portacabin grotto (!) for the children.
The Quarry and Museum is normally open seven days a week between Easter and October with plenty on offer for families and adult visitors alike. The location is well within reach of cottages in Keswick and Ullswater.
Set in dramatic scenery on the edge of Keswick the Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Musuem is ideally situated to visit whilst stopping at Karra Cottage. Run by enthusiastic staff and volunteers the site offers an underground tour, a geology and mining museum and a shop. There is free parking should you be travelling from further afield.
Sir Tom is a jewel in the crown for the Quarry, having undergone a complete restoration after its arrival in 2001. The narrow gauge locomotive hauls passenger trains on a daily basis during the summer months and at Christmas operates the Santa Special! The train ride travels up hill past the engine sheds and vintage machinery, right into the heart of the blasted out fell side. It's a great treat for children staying in one of our cottages in the Lake District.
Another highlight is the guided tour through a reconstructed lead/copper mine, which takes around forty-five minutes and is led by highly knowledgeable guides. Within the extensive site there is also a rather unique collection of vintage quarry machinery.
The Quarry Room is quite absorbing, explaining the geology of the Lake District and displaying samples of rock from important Cumbrian locations. Threlkeld Quarry was opened around 1870 and mined continuously until 1937. Operations carried on from 1949 until 1982 when the quarry closed and was mostly dismantled. It was saved by volunteers and built back up to the interesting resource that it is today.
The museum sits in the disused microgranite quarry in an area of the Lake District where copper, iron, lead, zinc, tungsten, graphite, barites and fluorite were mined. It contains a fascinating array of artefacts, plans and photographic records of explorations of many local mines. Walkers may find particular interest in the photographs featuring well-known fells and their changing faces after years of mining activity.