Sandstone and Coal

Saltom Bay and view North (c) Duncan Hutt

Saltom Bay and view North (c) Duncan Hutt

Haig Pit winding gear (c) Duncan Hutt

Haig Pit winding gear (c) Duncan Hutt

Saltom Pit and St Bees Head (c) Duncan Hutt

Saltom Pit and St Bees Head (c) Duncan Hutt

The cliffs of St Bees Head continue north of the main headland around Saltom Bay and towards Whitehaven.  Here the remains of Haig Pit, the last of the area’s deep coal mines, stand high above the sea; the old winding gear still and used as a perch by the occasional gull.  This mine exploited the coal far out from the shore under the Irish Sea and was one of many in the local area.  Indeed tucked precariously at the base of the cliffs are the remains of Saltom Pit, the path down to it now closed due to the unstable cliffs.  Further south are some of the remains of the Marchon Chemical Works, the site itself, a little inland, now flattened leaving just the turnstile gates and the old security fence standing.  This was a distinctly industrial area with mining (coal and anhydrite), quarrying for the red sandstone and the chemical industry, all has now gone and instead the view north and out to sea is dominated instead by wind turbines.

Coltsfoot seed head (c) Duncan Hutt

Coltsfoot seed head (c) Duncan Hutt

Coltsfoot (c) Duncan Hutt

Coltsfoot (c) Duncan Hutt

Blackthorn (c) Duncan Hutt

Blackthorn (c) Duncan Hutt

On these cliffs the thrift was just coming out into flower while there were patches of scurvy grass in full bloom.  A scattering of yellow was either dandelions or coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) and in a small slightly sheltered hollow the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) was putting on a surprisingly late show.  Overhead a kestrel hunted and skylarks sang while an occasional small tortoiseshell butterfly passed by.  Spring is clearly here and, as usual, about two weeks ahead of Northumberland due to the influence of the Gulf Stream along these western shores.

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About thehutts

The Hutt Family from Northumberland
This entry was posted in Archaeology, Cumbria, Flowering Plants and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sandstone and Coal

  1. The abandoned mines remind me of Cornwall.

    We’re in full dandelion season here and the trees are well advanced into leaf. The blackthorn was very late, coinciding with the apple and cherry blossom. It’s a gorgeous time of year for sitting outside under the (needed) sun umbrella. The swallows are back in the village. We are so lucky.

  2. thehutts says:

    I forgot to mention the two swallows flying past!

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