Visit Nenthead Mines: A Must-Visit Destination Rich in History

by | Alston, Attractions, Discover Alston, History, Visit Alston

Discover Alston Moor’s Industrial Heritage: Visit Nenthead Mines

Aerial view of Nenthead Mines in the North Pennines, showcasing the extensive network of historical mining structures and the surrounding rugged landscape.

Aerial view of Nenthead Mines, revealing the vast and intricate layout of this historic mining site in the heart of the North Pennines.

Nestled in the heart of the North Pennines National Landscape, Nenthead Mines offers a fascinating glimpse into the industrial heritage of Alston Moor. With a history stretching back to the 18th century, these mines are not only a testament to the ingenuity and hard work of generations past but also a captivating destination for modern-day explorers.

The Historical Significance of Nenthead Mines

Old mining machinery located at the base of Brewery Shaft, marking the entrance to the Nent Force Level at Nenthead Mines.

Historical mining machinery at the base of Brewery Shaft, where visitors can explore the entrance to the impressive Nent Force Level.

Nenthead Mines is situated in Cumbria, near the village of Nenthead, one of the highest villages in England. The area became a hub for lead and zinc mining in the late 17th century, driven by the demand for these valuable metals. The London Lead Company, a prominent player in the mining industry, significantly developed the mines in the 18th and 19th centuries, introducing advanced technologies and improving the working conditions for miners.

The mining operations at Nenthead were notable for their scale and innovation. The mines featured an intricate network of tunnels and shafts, with some reaching depths of over 600 feet. Water management was a crucial aspect, with a series of reservoirs, aqueducts, and pumping engines designed to keep the mines dry. These innovations were essential in sustaining the mining activities, which continued until the early 20th century.

Why Visit Nenthead Mines?

An old aqueduct at Nenthead Mines, part of the water management system used to keep the mines dry.

The historic aqueduct at Nenthead Mines, an essential feature of the water management system that enabled extensive mining operations.

1. Historical Exploration

Visit Nenthead Mines and take a step back in time. The site offers a unique opportunity to explore well-preserved mining structures and gain insights into the lives of the miners who worked there. Guided tours provide detailed information about the mining processes, the technologies used, and the challenges faced by the miners.

2. Spectacular Scenery

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) surrounds Nenthead Mines, offering breathtaking landscapes. The rugged terrain, rolling hills, and picturesque valleys make it a perfect destination for nature lovers and photographers. Walking and hiking trails around the mines provide stunning vistas and opportunities to experience the area’s natural beauty.

3. Educational Experience

Nenthead Mines is not just for history buffs. The site is also an educational treasure trove, with interactive displays and exhibits that cater to all ages. It’s an excellent place for families to learn about geology and engineering in a fun and interactive way.

4. Exploring Nent Force Level

One of the highlights of Nenthead Mines is the Nent Force Level. This impressive underground canal was constructed in the 18th century to drain water from the mines, showcasing the ingenuity and engineering prowess of the time. Walking through the Nent Force Level, with its atmospheric tunnels and flowing water, offers a unique and immersive experience, providing a real sense of the conditions miners worked under.

What You Can See at Nenthead Mines

Restored buildings and a mill wheel at Nenthead Mines, providing a glimpse into the industrial processes of the past.

Restored buildings and a mill wheel at Nenthead Mines, offering visitors a window into the site’s industrial heritage.

When you visit Nenthead Mines, you can expect to see a variety of fascinating sites and features:

1. Mine Workings

Visit Nenthead Mines to explore the extensive network of mine workings, including tunnels, shafts, and underground chambers. Guided tours take you deep into the heart of the mining complex, where you can see firsthand the scale of the operations and the tools and equipment used by the miners.

2. Restored Buildings

The site features several restored buildings that were integral to the mining operations. These include the smelt mill, where lead ore was processed, and the blacksmith’s shop, where tools and machinery were maintained. These buildings provide a vivid picture of the industrial processes and the daily life of the mining community on your visit to Nenthead Mines.

3. Interactive Exhibits

The visitor centre at Nenthead Mines hosts interactive exhibits and displays that delve into the history, geology, and technology of the mines. Hands-on activities and informative panels make it an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

4. Scenic Walks

The surrounding area offers numerous scenic walks and trails, allowing you to explore the beautiful North Pennines landscape. Routes like the Nenthead to Killhope trail provide stunning views and a chance to encounter local wildlife, making your visit even more memorable.

Where to Stay: Salvin House

For the perfect base during your visit to Nenthead Mines, look no further than Salvin House Alston. This charming and comfortable accommodation is ideally situated in the picturesque village of Nenthead, just a stone’s throw from the mines. Salvin House offers a blend of modern amenities and historic charm, ensuring a relaxing and enjoyable stay.

Why Choose Salvin House?

  • Proximity: A handy location when you visit Nenthead Mines, Salvin House allows you to maximize your time exploring the site and its surroundings without the hassle of long travel distances.
  • Comfort: With well-appointed rooms, cosy furnishings, and excellent facilities, Salvin House provides a welcoming retreat after a day of exploration.
  • Local Experience: Staying in the village of Nenthead offers a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture and history, with friendly locals and a quaint village atmosphere.

Visit Nenthead Mines Today

The entrance to Carr's Drift Mine at Nenthead Mines, a historically significant site within the mining complex.

The entrance to Carr’s Drift Mine, a key part of the Nenthead Mines where visitors can learn about the mining operations of the past.

Visit Nenthead Mines – It’s a destination that offers a rich historical experience, stunning natural beauty, and educational opportunities for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a unique adventure, Nenthead Mines has something to offer. And with Salvin House as your base, your visit is sure to be comfortable and memorable. Plan your trip today and discover the captivating history and beauty of Nenthead Mines.



Rob Lawson is a property investor and communications consultant who grew up in the South Tyne Valley. With a deep passion for historical preservation, he fell in love with Salvin House and committed to restoring it to its former glory. With a vision that blends respect for its heritage and modern comforts, Rob has revived this historic gem for future generations to appreciate.


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