Mining spoil heaps from the sixteenth century are still visible at Brandlehow Bay.
In the sixteenth century Queen Elizabeth I brought German Miners to the Lake District. They were the experts at that time, and were told to look for anything of value.
Catbells was extensively mined, the spoil heaps that resulted are still visible at Brandlehow Bay. Silver, lead, graphite and copper were found. Graphite, a particularly valuable find, was claimed by the military and taken under escort to London. It was used to line the moulds for making cannon balls and rifle shot, and when mixed with grease, as a lubricant for the gun carriage axles.
Later on the graphite was used to make pencils. Keswick had the first pencil mill in the world. The miners lived in camps along the shores of Derwentwater and utilised a number of the islands. When they went back to Germany they left the people of Keswick the Moot Hall, and Cumberland sausages.
One of the first mine shafts sunk is marked by a tree encompassed by a fence. The path passes behind it at the head of the lake. Have a look, but do not fall down the hole!