Thursday, 14 November 2013

After work adventures

I had a brilliant after work staff trip with some fellow instructors from Derwent Hill Outdoor Centre tonight.  We suited and harnessed up and headed to the Graphite Mine in Borrowdale for a through Abseil trip.

Its recently had a bit of a revamp with new bolts in places and we had a good old explore of the upper levels, managing to link up some things that i had an inkling might link.  Really, really good trip and great of the centre to loan us the minibus and some kit to do it.

Monday, 11 November 2013

In one way and out the other...

This is becoming a bit of a habit...a monday night habit it seems!

We found ourselves back at Nenthead Mines tonight with a more adventurous trip in mind.  A through trip into Smallcleugh mine, down whats called Prouds Sump (shaft) and then out of Rampgill mine.

Some impressive walling near a horse gin in Smallcleugh

Mark heading down Prouds Sump 1st shaft

Andy and Mark in Prouds Flats looking at the amazing artefacts still there. 

Go on Andy it'll be reet!

In a large worked out vein, you  can see the height of the roof.

There were copious crystals on the roof here.

The remains of some old ore wagons

Mark checking out some impressive Galena

This is a circular platform built to work up into a vein from.

Mark inspecting an explosives box.

It's pretty big down there

At the end of the flats there's a really cool chamber full of crystals

You then head down another shaft and end up coming out of an ore shoot.

The rock really changes here and becomes shale (scary shale!) 

It got deep, but never to that critical depth if you know what i mean!?

This was a side passage off of Rampgill Hangingshaw level that we were now in.  The floor was covered in calcite.

Whisky bottle corner

And for something that isn't a cave it has some impressive cave features!

So we made it!  And a brilliant trip it was too.  Unfortunately we saw a lot of future trips along side passages on the way out...we will be back!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The return to Nenthead Mines

Exploring deeper into the Nenthead Mines

Having had a sneaky peek into the vastness of Smallcleugh mine i was very keen to head back and explore more.  So with our friend Mark Davies from Lyon Equipment we headed back armed with maps, snacks and a flask of coffee!  Mark used to take groups from a local outdoor centre down here and knows it pretty well, which was good because it’s pretty complex!

Heading in what’s called the horse level.  This level was high enough to build a rail track for carts pulled by horses rather than ponies as they did in coal mines as the Lead Ore was much heavier.  What it means is that is much easier to walk along.

The veins of minerals (lead, silver, zinc, etc) were formed
 in cracks in the existing rock.  which in this case was limestone.  A consequence of which is that you get some weird cave like features.  This one has also got Iron Ore in it somewhere which is why its rust coloured…its rusting rock!

 This is North End Flats.  Flats are where the Minerals were found and then extracted leaving chambers, some of which are pretty big.

Mark looking at some Iron Pyrites or ‘Fools Gold’ It fooled me….i thought we were rich!

We headed on through various tunnels and came out of this beautifully constructed arch.  These were built to allow passage of the horses and trucks and also allow the stacking of waste above them called ‘Deads’.  This essentially meant they didn’t need to cart all the waste stone out of the mine, saving time and money.

We then headed up an incline to a higher series of tunnels which after a bit of head scratching with the map turned out to be the ‘Incline Flats’.  Here’s Mark pondering about heading in as it was a bit loose!

Looking down the incline flats.

Part way along we found some very weird and a bit scary white growth…i reckon it was fungus, but we held our breaths and scampered past.

After quite a while we got the end.

Throughout the mine these doors are still in place and intact.  They were used to ventilate the mine.  Children would have stood here for hours opening and closing it to circulate the air. 

At some points the workmanship just blows you away.

After poking around in one tunnel we found a very new looking rope hanging down a shaft.  So whilst it’s a tad dangerous, i climbed up it.  All was good and it took us to a new level with links back down the one were in.  It’s real Indiana jones stuff down there!

These old truck wheels rest in what are  now called the ‘Wheel Flats’.

After a further passage the mine changed with more vertical rifts and some scary props that are snapping due to the walls slowly pushing inwards! Gulp!

Mark in the vastness of the Ballroom Flats.  A big area with no stacked deads.

We then eventually got back to the rope we’d climbed up and headed back down.

Going out a slightly different way, we found an area that had some horse and hobnail boot prints in…probably about 100 yrs old.

Heading on the mine changes as the rock turns into shale.

We found another shaft rigged so headed down for a look.  This one was 65ft deep!

All in all a brilliant trip and we’ve still got heaps to explore and lots of possibilities to do through trips to other mines in the area.  I’ll be back!