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Mindat Adventure UK

Last Updated: 4th Dec 2018

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

This is a LIVE report, keep this page loaded for live updates - new images will appear as they are added.

Today a small group of international visitors is joining me for a mineralogical tour of the UK. First stop, the Natural History Museum. We start in the Earth Science galleries.

Flashlights at the ready as we enter the Earth's Treasury exhibit

Apatite cut and rough

Linarite from Caldbeck Fells

Chalcocite from Levant mine approx 4cm tall

Minerals from the Arthur Russell collection

Tsumeb display

Nice asbestos specimens

Amethyst from the Snamane mine, Zambia

This is on display in these galleries. I'll leave the captions to you.

The blue whale in the main hall. There used to be a big dinosaur here until last year.


The mineral galleries

Part of the index

Baryte from Goose Green mine, Cumbria

Robin is showing us the Russell Collection

How to write a catalogue properly

Just a drawer of Liroconite.

Bournonite from Cornwall

Inside the Vault display at the NHM.

Childrenite from Devon

Wood Tim

Isle of Man Galena

Huge Cornish fluorite

Siderite geode from Wheal Maudlin approx 50cm


Blue fluorite from Cumbria

Goethite epimorph after gypsum from Mexico

Cotterite. Quartz from Ireland

Cotterite. Quartz from Ireland


Hemimorphite from Roughten Gill Cumbria

Wiulyite form Russia, mislabeled

Cornish Clinoclase


Botryoidal scorodite from Algeria

Cornish Apatite

Barytocalcite possibly from blagill Cumbria

Blue John fluorite


Vesuvius botallackite

Calomel from Moschel-Landsberg, Bavaria

Several orpiment specimens haven't coped with daylight very well

Today in Truro at the Royal Cornwall Museum

The Rashleigh gallery

World's largest Liroconite specimen

Malachite and Azurite


Restormel Goethite


Fluorite from Herodsfoot

Amethyst with crandallute, pyrite and fluorite

Blister copper (Chalcopyrite) on arsenopyrite

Cornish Rhodonite

Cerussite from Pemtire Glaze Mine

Galena form west chiverton Mine

Besore Mine galena

Cassitertite from Trevaunance

Wood tin from Wheal Kitty


At the Wheal Jane Mine site

Pure Cornish tin - being smelted on-site from local concentrate for Cornish Tin jewellery

Pumping water from the old shaft

A huge specimen of quartz and pyrite from Wheal Jane. The site is now being redeveloped into a geobusiness Park.

Walking around the incredible Poldice mine at St Dat. Nothing much to be found on the dumps apparently but spectacular scenery.

The white dumps are from the calciner and are very rich in arsenic, so we stay clear

Quartz with sone kind of epimorph from Poldice.

Blackberries are out. But possibly arsenic rich so I’m keeping clear of these too :)

Pretty ‘clinker’

Drone-eye view of the Poldice Mine workings.

Visit to the workings at Wheal Coates. This engine houde, or the remains of it at least, are preserved by the National Trust. This is the mine the famous pseudomorphs of cassiterite after feldspar came from, but no collecting is allowed here now as it's a hugely important historic place.

Engine house.

North Cornwall coast

Wheal Coates engine house and the sea

Quick stop at Trevaunance Cove to view the mining remains here and see quartz vein rich pebbles on beach. And stopping here for lunch.

On south west coast path making our way to Cligga.

A capped shaft

Approaching Cligga

The greisen veins, an important protected geological site - so no collecting here.

Taking a break at the Mine workings.

Cassiterite crystals

Roman is enjoying playing in the old workings

Walking back to the car

Starting today with a private tour of the Geevor mine.

Calcite, or possibly rhodochrosite, from Geevor

The lodes and geology of Geevor

Incredible 3D model of the underground workings.

Victory Shaft, first opened in 1919.

Sample storage.

Vanning for tin, to measure ore grades.

Tin and sulfides separated.

What to use for brushing the sample off the vanning shovel? A real rabbit's foot, of course.

When calculated out professional vanning was an exceptionally accurate way to calculate ore grades.

Assay sample calculator.

Winding equipment

The driver's cab.

Mine closed 16 Feb 1990

Modern model of lodes and shafts

The washing plant

Ball mill

Levant workings and mill

At botalkack

The old generator house.

The crowns.

The modern botalkack head frame built in the 1980s but never used.

Waiting for sunset

Overhead view of The Crowns.

And a view from the sea. That’s all for tonight!

Serious collecting day today at the North Herodsfoot mine (http://www.northherodsfootmine.co.uk ) thanks to Richard and Frances for hosting us!

Ed bashing some rocks.

Aerial view of the North Herodsfoot workings remains.

After our visit to Herodsfoot we made a quick visit to meet the fine folks at the Southwest Branch of the British Micronount Society in Liskeard, where we had a great time discussing international micromineral collecting and the many common friends we all have. We also got to see sone fine Cornish micros.

After the meeting we made a slow drive back through China Clay country. Nowhere is available for collectors any more but there are extensive and incredible workings to view from the side of the road. Here is our group outside the now closed Gunheath China Clay pit where many good phosphates and other minerals came from in the past. I was last in here in the 1990s and it’s sad to see such a classic site has gone.

Starting today at the King Edward Mining Museum

Mine cart shovel loader

Standing on the Great Flat Lode

South Comdurrow winding house.

Shaft at King Edward Mine

Mine cage from South Crofty.

King Edward mine was used until the 1980s as a teaching mine for the Camborne School of Mines. This winding equipment still works.

Harvey's Air Compressor

As it was in 1905

Native copper samples.

The Pendarves Grotto


Location and relationship with other local mines.

An indication of how much ore is needed to produce the dish of concentrate which produces a tin bar of the size shown.

A 28lb (12.7kg) ingot of tin.

14lb (6kg) ingot of copper.

Water driven stamps

Rich botallackite specimen from Botalkack

Polished slab of Wheal Remfrey explosion breccia.

A round buddle.

So I don't have to write it all

Treating bubble ore to produce pure Cornish bubbles. Actually the machinery has to be bleached every now and then for health and safety reasons and that contains unwanted detergent

Where students tested mine drills

Ed is showing us some good Cornish minerals. Here is some Gunheath turquoise

A spar box from the Dean Quarry,Lizard - from the old quarry manager.

West Basset Stamps

Last picture caption was wrong it's North Wheal Basset Lyle's Shaft. Here's looking down the shaft.

Part of Basset set.

More basset


Looking over the valley

More workings. Note the altered chalcopyrite rich rock in the wall

A chimney

Wheal Basset and Carn Brea (the hill with the monument)

Part of East Basset

Some drone photos from Basset today.

The buddles from the air.

Buddles from the air.

Today we left Cornwall behind us and are now in Somerset at the offices and showroom of Crystal Classics Fine Minerals http://www.crystalclassics.co.uk

Now it's time to go shopping

Heading north today. First a brief shopping stop in Chesterfield and a chance to see the famous crooked spire.

Now we are in the peak District of Derbyshire

At Treat Cliff Blue John Caverns

Inside the cavern

Crystalline purple fluorite in situ

Blue john vein with calcite

Stalactites in the deeper caverns

Closeup of flow stone

Museum display

Carved items in the museum

Different vein types

From the 'lost' vein. Found in 1945 but hidden by the discoverer just before he died and not re-discovered until 2013.

Look what Charles discovered.

Mineral display at Castleton museum


Goniatite fossil in blue John fluorite

And now we have reached Weardale.

View down into Weardale valley.

At the Rogerley Mine for an underground tour courtesy of the fine people at UK Mining Ventures. As usual I managed to get a drone shot, although it nearly blew away in the strong wind.

Entrance to the Mine.

Now at the Killhope Mining Museum

Geology displsy

The weardale granite which doesn't reach the surface but has been found in drill cores at depth.

The country rock is carboniferous limestone but the mineralised veins date to the Permian 290 million years ago.


Galena And fluorite


Quartz on Fluorite

They have a fantastic display of spar boxes - wooden boxes often mirrored inside decorated with mineral specimens.

Spar box.


Some were created as little mining scenes

Mineral shelf.

Ore crushing rollers.

Mine tools

Post mining growth of aragonite on the shovel.

What a beautiful day!

Starting today at High Force waterfall. This shows the contact between the Dolerite sill (upper) and lower sandstone and limestone.

Next stop High Force quarry. We found very thin veins containing pectolite in the dolerite but nothing worth collecting.

The vein.

Stop in Alston for fish and chips.

Now at Nenthead

Extensive workings.


The smelt mill

Entrance to Carrs Level

Dumps here are extensive.

Over the top towards the Lakes and a brief stop at Hartside Summit. 1903 ft.

The Hartside Summit cafe is no more though!

Our hotel for tonight is in Shap, and the hotel is displaying two excellent polished slabs of the local Shap granite.

Almost two weeks of fabulous weather comes to an abrupt end with wind and rain - so our group has decided to abort on the planned hike in the Caldbeck Fells today for some slightly less exposed activities.

So we went into Scotland instead. Here we are at Wanlockhead.

The workings. And no rain!

Extensive dumps.

Hemimorphite from the dumps

A little late in the day due to internet issues but here is the museum of lead mining at Wanlockhead

Veins of the Wanlockhead-Leadhills area

Wanlockhead minerals.



And we end our trip with a quick visit to the BMS Symposium in Leicester

Article has been viewed at least 6268 times.


Jolyon and Katya,
great to see that local UK material of high quality has been preserved.

Tony Albini
3rd Sep 2018 3:41pm
That's strange. Orpiment usually tolerates daylight quite well. It is realgar that is sensitive, but even decomposed realgar produces a strongly orange colored powder. I'm not sure what is shown there, but it doesn't look like either orpiment or realgar.

Keith Wood
3rd Sep 2018 7:46pm
Thank you for posting photos of some of the fantastic specimens in the museums! Most of us will never get to see them in person so this is the next best thing. Please leave the link to this page on the top of the Mindat home page (at least for a few days) so collectors will get to enjoy this "eye candy".

Kevin Conroy
5th Sep 2018 3:04pm
Thank you for posting photos of some of the fantastic specimens in the museums! Most of us will never get to see them in person so this is the next best thing. Please leave the link to this page on the top of the Mindat home page (at least for a few days) so collectors will get to enjoy this "eye candy".

Kevin Conroy
5th Sep 2018 3:12pm
I really enjoyed my NHM visit in 2015

John Montgomery
5th Sep 2018 8:42pm
Thanks for the nice photographic tour!

Uwe Kolitsch
6th Sep 2018 11:19am
Great travelogue! Visited the UK ~30 yrs ago but the Rashleigh Gallery at the Royal Cornwall Museum was closed for repairs. Did get to see the Geology Museum in London but had to rush. Looks like John S. White's unflattering review of the new displays at the NHM was spot on--glad the old mineral gallery remains. Hope to make it back some day.

Ed Clopton
6th Sep 2018 6:34pm
Hi Ed,

It would be great if you could make it across again.

I would be more than happy to take you out to some sites for some collecting.

Dale Foster
7th Sep 2018 7:49am
In parts of the U. S. the form of the chalcopyrite shown in the photo above is called "Blister Ore". Beautiful specimens were found New Britain, CT when the new Arute Field was being built.

Tony Albini
7th Sep 2018 3:17pm
Thank you Jolyon for the excellent tour.
Someday, I need to get out there to see where my family was from.....

Paul Brandes
9th Sep 2018 2:51am
Seems that that engine house will be restored ?
I can see a ballancing bob behind the speaker on the ground.
Would be nice.

Paul De Bondt
9th Sep 2018 10:44am
I gave Pip a walk over the eastern stamps site at Wheal Basset this morning, got a nice native copper with cuprite, a meta-torbernite and a reasonable cassiterite from the vestiges of the dumps remaining on the site. Will upload some pictures in the morning.

Dale Foster
9th Sep 2018 4:59pm
It was great meeting your group yesterday at the Launceston meeting - it was certainly one of the more lively get togethers we've had there.

Alysson Rowan
9th Sep 2018 8:02pm
This article just keeps getting better and better. The Blue John photos are terrific along with the historical information.

Larry Maltby
11th Sep 2018 3:27pm
Does that mean UK mining are working Rogerley again?

Keith Compton
13th Sep 2018 12:38pm
UK Mining yes, but not the Jesse Fisher entity. It's now operated by Ian Bruce.

Kevin Conroy
14th Sep 2018 4:50am
Excellent report !
Thanks !

Thierry Brunsperger
14th Sep 2018 7:50am

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