Honister Pass is one of my favourite Lakeland passes, linking Keswick to Buttermere, via the beautiful Borrowdale valley, then on to the village of Lorton where the road winds back to Keswick by way of the Whinlatter Pass, or continues to the market town of Cockermouth.
Last night saw me catching up on my reading pile – the March issue of Cumbria Life, which was waiting for me when I returned from Keswick two weeks ago and the newspapers and magazines that I habitually buy on a Thursday – The Times, the local paper and the Radio Times.
‘Owner of last slate mine dies in air crash.’
My attention was drawn to this small piece in The Times on Thursday 10 March, sadly reporting the death of Mark Weir, the owner of Honister Slate Mine on 9 March, whose helicopter had crashed on his way home from the mine.
It is clear from the tributes that are being posted on the Facebook page set up in his memory, as well as those on the websites of the various local newspapers, that he was an inspirational man with a passion and vision that breathed new life into the last working mine of its kind in England.
I last visited Honister in August 2009, stopping at the café at the mine for a much-needed cuppa, after climbing Haystacks from Buttermere with the Family and in-laws.
No time to take a mine tour or climb Fleetwith Pike along the Via Ferrata on this occasion, but it was definitely on our wish list to do on a future visit to the Lakes. We also needed to wait until Son of Mine was older and taller.
And with two under 10s in tow, there was no way Husband of Mine and I could plan that luxury break to Paradigm – the luxury self-catering properties run by Mark’s partner, Jan – with the chance to maybe experience a flight in the helicopter with Mark on his way to or from work at Honister.
As with much in life, the timing was all wrong.
I seem to remember from an interview I read, probably in one of the Cumbrian magazines I subscribe to or the local papers that I tend to buy when I’m up there, that Mark had ideas to create an underground theatre in the mine. Now that would really have been right up my mountain, if you get my drift.
I didn’t know Mark Weir personally, but with an idea like that, then who knows, maybe an opportunity would have come my way to meet him.
The sad thing is that now I will never get the chance.
My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and colleagues.