Greenside Mine, 15th. June 2013

Andy Hall, Emma Key, Bill Sherrington, Steve Gray, Heather Eastwood, Andrew Macdonald, Paul Nicholls, Nial Peters, Tony Rooke, Dave Djuke Veldhuis. Leaders from CUMRU Karl and Sal?

The trip dawn Greenside Mine in the Lake District was to be the highlight of the Red Rose Lake District Camping weekend. This isa large lead mine on multiple levels near Glenridding, where a 240 metre through trip, much of it on original wooden ladders, is possible. The month of tune was chosen for its reliable, sunny and warm weather! We were camped at Great Tower Scout Camp on a secluded part of the site not far from the main road along Windermere that Steve Gray had organised. No toilet facilities but bring your own portaloo. That was fine except that Steve forgot the portaloo tent. Nice view while you used the facilities! A group of eight braved the wet weather on Friday night and we all sheltered under a gazebo while the rain came down in brief but heavy showers. A fire kept the midges away. portaloo tent. Nice view while you used the facilities! A group of eight braved the wet weather on Friday night and we all sheltered under a gazebo while the rain came down in brief but heavy showers. A fire kept the midges away. We got a fairly organised start on Saturday morning and we were away from the campsite by 9:20 to meet at Glenridding as arranged at 10 o’clock. Bill S was soon found window shopping in Glenridding and then we hung around for Tony etc But by 10:40 they had not arrived so we Set off up to the Youth Hostel. We found them waiting at the side of the road where the tarmac ends, which was what Steve Gray, had arranged with them — numpty! We drove on up the track and parked up at the Youth Hostel, got changed and prepared ourselves for the long uphill walk over to the head of Glencoyndale, where the top entrance of the mine is located. The route takes you up a steep zigzag track past many of the surface workings and spoil heaps to a col between Greenside and Sheffield Pike at nearly 2000 ft. and then a slight drop down back to the head of Glencoyndale. At this point we were quite glad of the cool weather as the walk up here in caving gear on a hot day is not to be recommended. Here we finished kitting up, took photographs and gave Steve some more stick about the state of his new bright fluorescent yellow over suit. He looked like a large matchstick.

The route down through the mine uses mainly fixed ladders to connect the various levels. These formed an escape route up Out of the mine installed in the 1950’s after a mine disaster and maintained until 1961 when the mine closed. A short low entrance crawl lead to some thigh deep wading along the Glencoyne Level and after a short while a junction was reached, where we turned left and soon reached a 10 metre fixed metal ladder down into the High Horse Level. A short section of level lead to a junction and off on the right past a large pipe and valve was the next ladder down a large 70 metre deep shaft into the Lower Horse Level. The High Horse Level at one point had been flooded with the aid of a series of dams and the valve was used to direct water to the hydraulic engine at Willie Shaft. This ladders are not quite vertical and in 20 metre stages with platforms at the end of each section. 1 was important for safety purposes to spread people out. The last section was on an old chain ladder but most people elected to use a petzl stop on the fixed SRT rope hanging down the shaft for this section.

Once on the Low Horse Level our route took us along the level to the next 80 metre shaft that was driven in the early 1950’s, which also provided access to the massive Alma Stope. Here are a number of artifacts, including kibbles, spades and a metal ore truck.

Another short ladder lead Out onto the end of a wagon way and provided a good view out into the Alma Stope and impressive black space. From the Alma Stope our last part of decent started. Here lots of faffing began and while we waited in a queue Steve and Karl sorted out the rigging for the pull through of the last 40 metre section. This took over half an hour to sort out and frustration began to grow, especially amongst the Cambridge contingent, as they needed to be out for Anthony and Julia’s wedding party at the Dalesbridge Centre, Bill contemplated the meaning of life and I shouted abuse at Steve down the shaft. Eventually things began to slowly move as one by one we moved down the shaft and out into the stope on a platform with only room for two next to a very large boulder, that was precariously jammed across the stope walls. Just in case it decided to ever move, a section of girder has been installed above it and the boulder is strapped and wired up to it as a safety precaution. It all looked a bit precarious to toe. It now became clear what the delay was as there was lots of tat at the head of the drop, which Steve and Karl had been tidying up. For the final big pitch we descended our pull-through rope and finally we arrived on the Lucy Tongue Level via another short 10 metre section of fixed metal ladder. Lucy Tongue Level is the lowest we could get as the levels below here are all flooded. At this point the Cambridge lot shot off to try to make it for the champagne. However we had over a kilometre of passage to traverse before reaching the exit gate. While Steve and Karl sorted out the pulling down of the pull- through rope few of us wandered off for a look round at various features along the large Lucy Tongue Level including the chamber for flooded Smiths Shaft and associated artifacts. After that we passed through and were impressed at the sections of the level which had been dug through by CATMHS - the amount of work put in, along with the materials were phenomenal. Tons of fertilizer bags full of rocks have been piled up on either side of the level from spoil removed from various collapses (see photo) The exit was eventually reached and we popped out through a large diameter PIPO Onto a spoil heap a few hundred yards above the Youth Hostel. A memorable different sort of trip.

Andy Hall

 

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