Sunday, 22 January 2012

A Couple of Mines

Not much caving to report of late, but a couple of mine visits.

Borrowdale Wad Mine
28th December 2011, with Kim and Kathryn.
We had originally hoped to visit Force Crag Mine a couple days earlier but were thwarted by concrete and a gate, as some work is being done to divert the water coming out of the mine. Borrowdale Wad Mine is found on the steep slopes above Seathwaite and consists of three adits at different levels, connected by shafts. We had a look round each level, and located the various shafts for a future visit with SRT kits (it would make a nice through trip). T/U 1hr

Cumberland/Wapping Mine
22nd January 2012.
Kathryn and I had a look around on a lazy Sunday. We pretty much walked straight to the entrance and both managed to miss it, before spending the best part of an hour looking elsewhere. Eventually we got underground and followed the obvious route through some largish chambers. Eventually we got to some concrete walk ways and spiral staircases - this part was a showcave in Victorian times. It was slightly eery seeing it in such a different state now. T/U 1hr

Cwmorthin Slate Mine
29th January 2012
We'd spent the weekend in Snowdonia with Richard, and after a beautiful crisp Saturday, Sunday turned out to be blizzardy and sleety. So armed with a printed survey we headed into Cwmorthin Slate Mine near Blaenau Ffestiniog. It's a ridiculously complicated maze, and the first half hour or so was spent wandering backwards and forwards, trying to get our bearings and work out where on earth we were; it's not often I go underground and genuinely feel like there is a risk of getting lost! Eventually we found an impressive set of stone steps leading down the side of a gigantic chasm. After a couple more junctions we managed to find an incline that we'd been looking for. This lead steeply downwards, past various broken carts. Every so often there would be a side level we could explore, which usually ended in a dodgy bridge. The bottom of the incline lead to a level with a foot of water so we decided to turn round here.

We got back to the surface after about two hours underground, having seen about 5% of what was on the survey (and 0% of however much there is that isn't on the several return trips are needed - what an amazing place!). After trudging back to the car in the sleet, we headed to a cafe in Blaenau Ffestiniog where I did my best ever, but unwitting, impersonation of a welshman by asking for a pot of Lapsang Souchong, which the waitress assumed was a Welsh turn of phrase!

The steps - only the bottom third or so are seen here.

Richard and Kathryn admiring a broken cart

One of the many dodgy bridges


  1. Oops!
    Edvin - left a comment re. Seathwaite but put it on your previous post by mistake. Mal

  2. Hi Edvin
    Mal - again, sorry only just seen your comment on my blog!
    From memory we took a 65m rope which worked nicely "doubled" for pulling through on the bigger (ca. 30-35m) pitches. The second last pitch is rigged off some quite dubious looking anchors & on the last pitch if you use the in-situ rope I think its quite difficult to avoid a soaking.

    There is some quite interesting exploration at the top (entrance) level if you initially ignore the pitch & go for a ratch around - I don't think many folk do this.