I have recently been re-exploring the abandoned Lead Mines of Grassington and Coniston moor in Yorkshire. I first wandered up here in the ’70’s when I was a teenager, and my friends and I explored the old buildings and levels.
Later on, I explored mostly on my own – I was happy to wander around with a camera – others would get impatient whilst I composed the shot, so it was easier to go on my own. Less nagging…
This was dangerous however, as I frequently wandered on the open moors and no-one knew exactly where I was – it is a big moor. I would go off the paths exploring, and would wander for many miles absorbed with my own thoughts. I never got lost – but I always kept the thought at the back of my mind to be careful where I was wandering, as there are lots of mineshafts lurking around in the deep heather or grass. I had to be extra vigilant in the snow!
Many of the shafts are covered over with railway sleepers and some of these have rotted away over the century and a half since the mines closed. There are over 800 shafts (including extraction and ventillation shafts) on the moors. Many are 60 fathoms (360 ft.) deep – some even deeper!
Some are now fenced off, but there are still many, many open shafts about, and if you fell down one of these chances are you would never be found alive.
I have come across many, many open shafts – but only recently have I started to photograph them. Here is a small selection – don’t have nightmares!