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Wensley

Wensley is a modest little village, clinging to the sides of the steep hill from Darley on the road to Winster. It has a variety of buildings rich in character, but somehow these go unnoticed as your drive through. A walk up the main street is therefore recommended to fully appreciate what Wensley has to offer.

Wensley is surrounded by the remnants and remains of lead mining industry with dips, hollows and capped shafts to be found in numerous fields. Tearsall Pipe Caverns lay only a few fields away from Wensley. Here there was a network of some 15 mine shafts, some of which connected with a natural pipe or tunnel below ground which formed part of the Dalefield Mine. The series of sump shafts and passageways lead to Rift Chamber which is 40 feet high. There are also strangely named tunnels known as Gnasher Crawl and Thrutchers Paradise. The Tearsall Mine, whose entrance was once further up the hillside, is now lost in a local quarry but was developed under a layer of volcanic ash. The ore was transported on small but heavy wooden sledges or corfes which ran along trenches and were pulled by ropes. This form of equipment was used up until the 19th century when they were replaced with little wagons which ran on rails.

Running down behind the houses of Wensley is Wensleydale - not a cheese factory in sight!

Wensley stands on a road which was originally laid as part of the Newhaven Turnpike, and has for centuries continued to be a busy thoroughfare.

The name Wensley derives from Woden, the Norse God of War, although judging by the following poem the village now has more romantic connotations.

'At Winster Wakes there's ale and cakes
At Elton Wakes there's quenchers
At Bircher Wakes there's knives and forks
At Wensley Wakes there's wenches'

At the top of Wensley stands the now redundant Red Lion public house which was a former coaching inn.

A path from Wensley leads down through Cambridge Wood which is a conservation area to the remains of Watts Shaft. This old mine was reopened by Edward Miller Wass in 1859 in a vain attempt to retrieve the reputed wagon-loads of ore left in the bottoms. Still to be seen today are the enormous blocks of the bob wall and a deep shaft in front which is covered with a metal grill.