10 July 2011

Virgin mine

I had been only a few tens of metres away from it, and I had no idea it was there. A virgin shaft! When I least expected it I got a text message from Lionel, inviting me on an alternative trip on the Tuesday night. I intended to skip that week’s normal trip, as I had only recently visited the venue, so I was easily persuaded. And after having braved Dave’s quite justified accusations of running off with another man I arrived on the scene. Soon also Lionel, Finbar and Rick appeared as well.

Lionel showed the way. Indeed, a deep gaping hole! We faffed a bit rigging it; the first time is always the slowest. And then we were off! Lionel first, of course, and then me. And we found a mine with no sign of earlier visitors! No footsteps or any other sign.

 There was some impeding vegetation around the shaft we needed to clear. Finbar is the kind of guy to have devices to do so, and Lionel here shows one can present a billhook with military pride.

We explored every accessible bit of it; it wasn’t much, but we were very chuffed with it anyway. It must have been bigger; there was one collapse that blocked off who knows what. And there were several spades and such appliances, and the floor was covered in strange blobby structures. And all of it bright orange.

The top of these timbers clearly show where the roof has been!

Rick and Finbar all kitted up for ascending back to the surface

We then had to leave. It was slightly tricky to get out of the shaft, so we decided Lionel, who can look after himself, would go first, and then the gentlemen who weren’t so fond of rope work, and then me. I thought I’d take some pics while the men ascended, but Finbar struggled a bit with the rope which didn’t feed through his jammer, and Rick announced he would not enjoy the ascent and moan and groan all the way up, so I decided to stay at the shaft. Finbar conquered his jammer, and Rick indeed made a most sonorous ascent, but by then it wasn’t particularly early anymore. But we needed a pint anyway! To celebrate this deflowering, and as well that we all got out. I hope we find more of this terra incognita!

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