Honister Slate Mine

Useful Information

Location: From Keswick, take the B 5289 side road through Borrowdale and Rosthwaite to the Honister Pass.
(54°30'40.45"N, 3°11'57.13"W)
Open: Visitor Center: all year daily 8-17.
Mine tour: all year daily 10:30, 12:30, 15:30.
Via Ferrata: all year daily 11, 13.
Other times, tours by prior arrangement.
Fee: Visitor Center: free.
Mine tour: Adults GBP 9.75, Children GBP 4.75, Family (2+2) GBP 27.
Groups (15+): Adults GBP 5.00 per person.
Via Ferrata: Adults GBP 19.50, Children (0-16) GBP 9.50, Family (2+2) GBP 55.
Classification: MineSlate Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=17,000 m.
Guided tours: Normal tour: D=1 h, L=1,200 m.
Bibliography: Alister D Cameron (1993): Slate from Honister, 59 pp illus., surveys. GBP 5.00
Address: Honister Slate Mine, Honister Pass, Borrowdale, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5XN. Tel: +44-17687-77230. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1750s large scale quarrying of the Honister green slate was taking place.
1833 under entrepreneur Sam Wright the business expanded with the development of underground mines.
1879 formation of the Buttermere Green Slate Company.
1879 usage of inclines instead of horse or sledge to transport the slate.
1928 aerial ropeway was constructed.
1986 slate mining and quarrying at Honister ceased.
FEB-1997 slate mining and quarrying restarted.
FEB-1997 show mine opened.
Via Ferrata opened.



The mine offers free parking for cars and mininbuses, but no coaches please. There is disabled access to the Visitors' Centre which includes a snack bar and a gift shop.

The present owners offer the visitor a guided tour of the mine which is available several times a day. The tour includes many unique underground features which are still in situ and the knowledgeable guides provide a background to the history of the mine. A mixture of both modern and traditional methods are used to extract the slate. After the tour, there is a complimentary cup of tea or coffee in the Bait Cabin beside a warm fire. For those not wishing to go underground, there is free entry into the Visitor Centre. In the gift shop, natural green slate is the predominant gift. You can have your house name engraved on it while you wait, or buy a house sign by mail order, or fill up your car boot for GBP 10.00! Not so daft as it sounds as the slate is ideal for rockeries, paving and walling. Unlike slate taken from quarries, the Westmoreland Green Slate is wholly extracted underground and is entirely environmentally friendly. Its beauty graces both the roofs of humble cottages and magnificent buildings, such as those in Regent Street, London, the Ritz Hotel, St James Palace, RAF Cranwell and the Deutsche Bundesbank.

Text by Tony Oldham (2001). With kind permission.

In 2007 a new attraction was opened, a Via Ferrata. This term is Italian and translates "iron way", what they mean is a system of adding iron cables and cramps to a steep trail to make it more secure. This technique was developed in the Italian and Austrian Alps, in the German-speaking countries it is called Klettersteig. This kind of safety equipment was developed more than 100 years ago, but the first time it was widely used was during World War I along the front between Italy and Austria in the Dolomites. Later the trails were used by climbers and mountaineers, and today those trails are popular all along the Alps. They allow easy belay with a carabiner and a piece of rope, and make thrilling routes passable for quite normal people.

The fixed rope route at Honister secures the old miners' route up the rock face of Honister Crag and to the top of Fleetwith Pike. It is the first Via Ferrata in Great Britain, and unlike the Italian originals it is not free. Visitors have to book and are guided up twice a day.