Sunday 6 May 2012

5th May 2012 - There and back again

Not many caving trips start with a walk up a mountain carrying a big rucksac but then not many caving trips involve 230m of fixed ladders and 1 mile of underground walking and also, this was not a cave but a mine.  Greenside lead mine to be precise, closed in 1961, reopened in 2005 by the troglominers of COMRU, CAMs and MOLES.  The ultimate through trip in Lake District subterranean exploration was our aim, knowing, however, that the chances of exiting the lower entrance was nil.  We couldn't get access to the key!

The route startes with a mile and half walk from Greenside Mine to the top entrance at the head of Glencoyndale

Changing into caving gear at the top entrance to the mine.

After crawling through the entrance series, wading through knee deep water and a left turn we reach the ladders.  From here onwards we climb down 230m of ladders placed in the mine in the late 1950s!  Fortunately the ladders are protected by modern bolts and caving ropes!

Ladder pitches are interspersed with platforms that are formed by wedging wooden planks across the shafts.  We were not too impressed by the fungi that grew on the wood!

The reason for the ladders was as an escape route from the mine in the vent of a fire.  The shafts go straight up from Lucy Tongue level to the exit in Glencoyndale.

And on down, followed by a 1 mile walk down an excavated passage to finally reach the entrance back at the car!

However, the Lake District National Park Authority are not forthcoming with the access key, so despite the fresh air and view (see below) 2mm of steel halted us from completing the through trip of the mountain.

So back up we went.

Relics of old mining technology.

Zig Zag ladders

Long ladder climbs

The final crawl to the exit

Escape into fresh air

Looking back at the entrance

Looking down at the Greenside Mine entrance where we saw the daylight but couldn't escape

The hobbit hole entrance where we sat and saw the daylight nearly 3 1/2 hours before.  We left one of our spare ropes at the entrence as we didn't need it.  We rescued it on our return.

1 comment:

Guitey said...

I want to do this trip!! Next time I am back? :)