21 April 2013

Tarzan in South Bedford

Yes, it's another report on a Rick trip! Careful readers might remember we did two trips to South Bedford recently; one for just having a look, and then one during which we tried to get in through an adit somewhere on the bottom of the hill. When that didn't work, we had a look if we could perhaps drop or cross the shaft, but we hadn't brought a drill so we couldn't.We still wanted to know what was at the bottom of that shaft, and what might be on the other side; the adit through which one tends to get in ends at the shaft, and you can clearly see that the level continues, but how to get there? So on an otherwise unclaimed Tuesday evening we went back, with the intention of going in through the adit, bolting our way across the shaft, and explore what was on the other side and/or what was down below. The plan was good! The execution wasn't. But plan B was spiffing!

A reminder: this is the shaft we wanted to drop or cross, as we saw it the previous month

 What was wrong with plan A? Well, it involved placing bolts in the rock face. And Dave would bring the bolts. And he had been kept by some emergency at work. So now what? Luckily, we are resourceful people; we could still go in from the top of the shaft. There are trees there! And that would take up quite some rope, so we wouldn't be able to get to the bottom, but we would be able to lower ourselves on the rope to the adit, and swing into it. So that was the plan!

I was first. I gently lowered myself. And several metres above our destination I saw another tunnel coming off the shaft! That's worth exploring too. So I called to Lionel, told him what I was up to, and swung into it. He would follow. Together we had a look; it didn't go very far. Only some 15m. But still! How many people would even know it's there?

The unexpected level. It had nice timbering!

The other men weren't keen to come down the rope. They preferred the adit. So I got into the rope again, and lowered myself further. I made sure I was careful; just in case something went wrong, Lionel held on to the end of the rope. That way he could always get out, if I wouldn't be able to go back up! And I had about half a metre to spare when I reached the level we had come for. Well, that's enough! So among the debris that had ended up in the level (which even included a beer barrel, a pot of paint, and a skeleton of a horse, or perhaps a donkey) I waited for Lionel to come down, and then we helped the other men to cross the shaft. When all four were on the far side of it we could explore! We didn't expect much; there probably was a reason why nobody had bothered to place bolts before. We knew the level had been explored.

 The level we had been in before. Notice the horizontal beam we put in! Now we've seen both sides...

We walked in, and soon we found a shoe. And a container for gunpowder. And a box. And another shoe. And a fuse. And remains of a hat, and more shoes! What was it with the miners of this place? They lost more shoes than drunk girls on heels. But it was clear this place was rarely visited; such relics don't tend to survive long with throng passing by all the time. So it had been well worth it!

Finbar shows one of the shoes

The quickest way out would have been to get out through the adit, climb the hill, and take down the rope. But that isn't fun. So Rick and Finbar went out that way, while Lionel and I took the rope. And only a short while later we were out, and could get ourselves to the pub! Another successful night!

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