The History of The Old Man of Coniston

  May is National Walking Month so I wanted to share with you the history behind a recent walk I did. The Old Man of Coniston (or Coniston Old Man) is located in the Lake District and is one of the fells in the Furness Fells . It is approximately 2632.61 ft high. The road up to the main car park for the hike was originally built to serve the slate quarry . The Coniston Old man has an extensive slate mining history dating back to 12th and 13th centuries. It was estimated that around this time slate began to be worked here and has been worked up until the present day. By the 1500s, established slate workings were present in the area. On the stony path on the way up to the summit, you can see numerous signs of the remnants of the slate industry from buildings and machinery to electrical pylons.   The summit itself is signified by a slate platform and cairn. Although this is a great spot to have lunch if the weather is good, the summit was historically used as a warning beacon which for

Lindis Pass Hotel - A Historic Campsite

Located on State Highway 8 in Central Otago, Lindis Pass stands at an altitude of 971m. Prior to English settlement, the Maori named the main route through Lindis Pass to the Clutha River "Okahu". Evidence shows that Maori were familiar with this area and often camped by Omako, now commonly known as Lindis River. In 1857 a man named John Turbull Thomson crossed the area and gave it its name. He named it after Lindisfarne island in North East England which was his home. During his travels, he noticed that there was gold in the area but not in substantial quantaties.

It wasn't until 1861 when Samuel Mcintyre found a substantial amount in Lindis Pass that actually had payable quantaties. The Lindis River saw the small scale gold rush in the Otago area. Mcintyre had previously worked in gold fields in California and could therefore indentify the similarities between the two regions, noticing the area's  potential for goldmining that others had not. By April that year 300 miners were present and by July there had been deserted. However the rush was indeed short due to the  area's extreme climate and the isolation of the area. As a result Gabriel's Gully close by seemed like a more favourable location for gold. The miners simply packed up and left.

During the depression era of the 1930s, there was a renewed interest in the Lindis Pass area. The government had agreed to pay subsidies meaning that 30 unemployed workers came to the area setting up camp in a tent next to Camp Creek. For 30 shillings a week the miners were permitted to keep a percentage of the gold they discovered. The scheme ended by 1935.

I was drawn to Lindis Pass for it's unique camping spot neighbouring the ruins of the Lindis Pass Hotel representing the first gold rush in the Otago area. The Hotel was originally established as a store during the first gold rush of 1861 and by 1873 they had established a permanent building on the site. For 70 years the building provided numerous provisions from school lodgings, a general store, a post office and a school. The hotel itself is an archaeological treat, featuring orginal features and examples of 19th century stonemasonry techniques which utilised local materials. The Hotel was predominantly used by travellers stopping for a break on the Lindis Road until it closed in the early 1950s.

Whilst the Lindis Pass Hotel is closed and has been for some time now, the spot continues to be a place for weary travellers to rest. The grassy area next to the ruins is now a Department of Conservation campsite and is completely free of charge. This hidden historic gem is definitely worth a visit for all those interested in the gold mining heritage of New Zealand.

Further Reading:
Department of Conservation


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