We've had a fantastic day out today searching for rocks in the middle of the North Pennines, miles from anywhere. The Killhope Lead Mining Museum is a bit of a drive from Newcastle - about an hour and a half - but you pass miles upon miles of moorland (complete with very cute lambs and sheep) as the A689 road wriggles higher and higher up the valley towards Alston.
Once you've arrived, there's plenty to do. We liked the little exhibition about 'spar boxes' and minerals, and loved the reconstruction of the 'mine shop' where the miners lived during the week. There's a huge water wheel which drives working machinery - and best of all, there's the washer yard where kids can have a go at looking for galena (silvery lead ore) and minerals. There was much enthusiastic washing and hammering of stones going on!
We didn't tour the mine today (I hate the dark and get claustraphobic underground, M's probably a bit small yet), but probably will at a later date - once you've bought a ticket for entry, it's valid for a whole year.
We did have a good wander round in the woodland, though, tracing the paths of the water down to the water wheel. There were no red squirrels to be seen, sadly, but there's always next time...