Drawing 265: Coppermines Valley, Coniston
Direction of view: WNW
Notes: Needs to be taken in the morning to get sunlight on the east face of the buildings. The scene is remarkably little changed, despite Coppermines Valley still being an active industrial site. The location of the viewpoint is on a main track, and quite obvious.
This drawing does not appear elsewhere in Wainwright’s published works.
Comments: I first took this picture on 19th March 2015, on a walk over Wetherlam with Peter Watson. It was a beautiful day, if hazy, but even though we reached the location about 2pm, it was much too late for the light to be right on the buildings (image 1).
Image 2 was taken by Peter Messenger in August 1977, and is interesting as a comparison.
I took the picture again on 17th April 2017 (image 3 see 261 for an account of that day). I hoped for improving light, but in fact it started raining as I waited. Then, as I climbed away, brilliant sunlight lit Coppermines Valley, whilst the hills hid in moody black clouds, and I rushed back down. Such is life in this project!
Wainwright describes Coppermines Valley as “the greatest area of industrial devastation in the district”, and describes it as a “desert of rubbish”; but he notes that, with the operation of the youth hostel, and some half-derelict cottages being restored “there may be life here again…” He wasn’t wrong: the cottages in the foreground of the sketch have been fully restored. But whether he would have approved of holiday cottages with attendant cars, and interpretation panels dotted around the valley is another question.
The prominent white building was originally the mine manager’s house, until in 1931 it became the YHA’s first hostel in the Lakes.