Editing North Swaledale Mineral Belt around Gunnerside - an excursion

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=== Locality 4 [NY 9712 0068] ===
 
=== Locality 4 [NY 9712 0068] ===
  
The partly collapsed entrance to Hard Level lies a few metres south of the track. The relatively modest appearance of this mine entrance belies its importance as the entrance to one of the most extensive sets of underground workings in the Yorkshire Pennines. Driving of the level began in 1785 in the beds beneath the Underset Limestone. The level was driven northwest beneath the valley to reach the group of strong veins, including Old Rake, North Rake and Friarfold Rake, beneath the head of the valley. Considerable lengths of rich lead-bearing veins were worked from this level which was eventually connected with the workings of the Bunton Level in Gunnerside Gill. Adjacent to the entrance of Hard Level, the remains of the old dressing floors and water-wheel pits may be seen. For a time during the 19th century, dressed ore from the Gunnerside Gill workings was transported to the Old Gang Smelt Mill underground via the Bunton and Hard Levels.
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The partly collapsed entrance to Hard Level lies a few metres south of the track. The relatively modest appearance of this mine entrance belies its importance as the entrance to one of the most extensive sets of underground workings in the Yorkshire Pennines. Driving of the level began in 1785 in the beds beneath the Underset Limestone. The level was driven northwest beneath the valley to reach the group of strong veins, including Old Rake, North Rake and Friarfold Rake, beneath the head of the valley. Considerable lengths of rich lead-bearing veins were worked from this level which was eventually connected with the workings of the Bunton Level in Gunnerside Gill. Adjacent to the entrance of Hard Level, the remains of the old dressing floors and water-wheel pits may be seen. For a time during the 1 9th century, dressed ore from the Gunnerside Gill workings was transported to the Old Gang Smelt Mill underground via the Bunton and Hard Levels.
  
Immediately above the '''adit''' mouth is an excellent exposure of a thin coal seam overlying a '''ganister'''-like sandstone with abundant rootlet traces.
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Immediately above the adit mouth is an excellent exposure of a thin coal seam overlying a ganister-like sandstone with abundant rootlet traces.
  
The extensive workings from Hard Level have produced a very large spoil heap on the south bank of the gill. This is a good locality at which to see a number of minerals. Small amounts of galena, the ore mineral worked, are relatively common, with a little brown '''sphalerite''' in places. '''Baryte''' is common in rather coral-like masses of white, chisel-shaped crystals, a form characteristic of this mineral when it has developed by alteration from a barium carbonate mineral such as '''witherite'''. Pale yellowish-cream witherite may also be found and good examples of white radiating crystalline masses of '''strontianite''' are occasionally found. Colourless '''fluorite''' is also present but is rather rare.
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The extensive workings from Hard Level have produced a very large spoil heap on the south bank of the gill. This is a good locality at which to see a number of minerals. Small amounts of galena, the ore mineral worked, are relatively common, with a little brown sphalerite in places. Baryte is common in rather coral-like masses of white, chisel-shaped crystals, a form characteristic of this mineral when it has developed by alteration from a barium carbonate mineral such as witherite. Pale yellowish-cream witherite may also be found and good examples of white radiating crystalline masses of strontianite are occasionally found. Colourless fluorite is also present but is rather rare.
  
The extensive flat, terraced area between the Hard Level entrance and the large dumps is the site of the dressing floors where the lead ore was separated from the waste minerals or '''gangue'''.
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The extensive flat, terraced area between the Hard Level entrance and the large dumps is the site of the dressing floors where the lead ore was separated from the waste minerals or gangue.
  
 
Continue up the track to where a tributuary stream, known as Ashpot Gutter joins the gill from the south.
 
Continue up the track to where a tributuary stream, known as Ashpot Gutter joins the gill from the south.

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