21 June 2014

Miles of adit

Whether I would be free the 14th, Phil wanted to know. Something good seemed to be up. I pointed out that that would be the last weekend before the Laugharne field trip; Dave immediately remarked I would need a bit of a spectacular underground send-off before that. So it was decided; I would go wherever it was we would be going that day!

Dave picked me up at 8, and we were in Mold by nine, which was the agreed time. There was nobody there; Dave decided to check his phone to see if maybe something had changed. And it had; he had a message, received the day before, that the time had changed to 10. Oh dear! When the others arrived they first wanted breakfast. It would be a day like that...

Before we went in we had to register our names and BCA numbers. And when we got in we soon reached a book in which we had to register again. This clearly was a mine that was being managed by people with too much time on their hands! But that did mean we could get to where we wanted to be. All was still a bit foggy to me; I was happy to just traipse along. But it had clocked with me what we would be doing was go down to the North Welsh answer to County Adit; a very long adit draining a plethora of mines. And I didn't know which one we would have as an aim, but every one would be new to me so I didn't care. But first we had to get there, and that wasn't a trifle; we thought it would be 15 ladders down. It turned out to be 23. So we went down wood ladders, steel ladders, original ladders and late addition ladders. Long ladders and short ones, steep and inclined ones. Ladders! Lots of them! And quite some false floors, hand lines, and whatnot in between them.

The adit, where we reached it

Finally we got to the adit. There were some carts in it. Very nice! But we had many miles to walk though it, so we didn't linger. We walked over the rail embankment next to the deeper, drainage bit, but most of the way the rails were submerged. And it is rather tiresome to walk through water that is deep and murky enough to not be able to see where you put your feet, but of which you know it hides many rock and bits of flushed-away embankment. But we made rather good progress.And I was amazed by the sheer number of wagons we passed along the way; they must have left countless many when the mines closed! Weird.

After an indeterminate amount of time and distance we took a right turn. That didn't make anything easier; most of the embankment was flushed away and we had to balance over the rails. But in the end it paid off; suddenly the walls and ceiling receded and and enormous chamber opened up. It had levels leading off in some directions, it had en enormous maypole leading into the ceiling, and it had a big lake. The latter turned out to be natural; the mine workings had accidentally breached this natural hole, and they had used it to their advantage. There were rails in the chamber that lead to a cart turning construction; they had chucked their mine waste into the lake for decades, without ever filling it up. That saved them having to cart it out!

We had some lunch there, and we took some pictures. I didn't take many, as even with my new headlight the space was way too big to light up. I assisted David instead. With amazing results!

 The big chamber, with of course again lots of wagons

The lake, with the cart turning machine on the left. It may not look big but this picture took some 10 separately lit exposures, which were stitched together afterwards, to end up like this. Pic by Dave

I also tried the maypole. It was a bit wobbly, but seemed secure enough. But when I came to where it was fixed to the wall I saw it was just tied to it with some clothing line. Oh dear! As I didn't think anyone would follow me I aborted the mission and went down again. And soon we went back. There were some cavities made in another calcareous bit of the underground we wanted to see, so we retraced our steps. And things only got worse as now we were wading against the stream. But it was worth it! We were greeted with yet more open spaces with the obligatory wagons, but these rooms were all man-made and rectangular. And spectacular to be in! And after some photography fun we split up; some of us went to the end and went back then while the rest already headed out. Then there was a lot of confusion, and then we just decided to catch up with the avant garde. It was rather hypnotic to walk these miles in the noise of the splashing water in the echoing tunnel. When I got to where we would turn off to get back to the ladders I saw my chance of scampering up first. Twenty-three ladders is a lot of you are stuck behind slow people!

 Nice scoopy wagon

Me in the biggest chamber. Pic by Dave

After we'd all emerged we finished the day with a curry in Mold. It was 11 when I got back. A long day, but quite a nice one!

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