19 October 2010

Silver mine

It had cost £1. The entire mine, and the land on which the entrance could be found. What a bargain!

As far as I knew, there would be a trip to Wheel Jane on that Sunday. But evidently, I knew wrong. No such trip. Dave drew my attention to a trip of some other caving club in Plymouth, founded by a guy that had been politely asked to leave the Plymouth Caving Group. This trip would be to Combe Martin, a silver/lead mine in northern Devon. Both the distance, and the presence of this man that had proven to not be compatible with our club, made me doubt if I should go. But the pull of the underground won. I went.

Combe Martin (the village), seen from the mine entrance on the hill

It was a beautiful day. At the site we were greeted by one of the the owners of the mine who showed us around, first at the above ground remains of the mine. And later than I'd hoped we went down, over the grimy ladders, into the shaft. I was immediately charmed.

The entrance

It was evident this mine had had a long history; the shaft looked modern for mining standards, but there were old, narrow tunnels everywhere, with the pick-axe marks still in them, as if they were made yesterday. The oldest recorded activity in this mine was in 1292!

Pic by Dave

Beautiful internal supporting wall (pic by Dave)

A droplet makes an excellent lens

Modern supports

Pic by Dave

Pic by Dave

We happily scurried around, taking pictures, but we couldn't go everywhere due to collapses, and were out fairly soon. Even before the other batch, including the infamous guy, even entered. Outside in the sunshine we discussed the possibility of coming back in spring, and helping the owners with some maintenance, such as the clearing out of aforementioned collapses. Sounds great!

Pic by Dave

The mine came with a small garden shed also functioning as a museum. The local blacksmith talked us through the findings displayed there. And then there was quite some doodling and faffing, and I had a proper Lionel fit, and wanted out of there. I have time to go underground, but I have no time to just hang around!

The mini museum

We went down to the village museum, which was closed, and then to the pub, for a pint with the others. Ali had wanted to do another mine as well, on Great Hangman cliff, but it was too late for that. We did go and have a look, though. It was probably good we hadn't counted on this, as it looked like there was nothing we could secure a rope to, and attempting to enter the mine entrance on the cliff face without one would be suicide. We'll have to come prepared if we want to go there... but we got a nice afternoon walk.

Little Hangman

Picture taken from Great Hangman

And then we were off home. If I ever settle down I wouldn't mind doing that in a house with an affordable silver mine in the back garden!

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