21 October 2015

Down with the PCG

Every year the PCG comes to North Wales. This year I had forgot all about their visit, as the emails concerning this trip all ended up in my spam box. Luckily, Dave reminded me of it. I gave him some suggestions on where to go (I have inside knowledge now) and said I'd be keen to join them on a weekend trip.

I phoned Dave on Friday night. He figured we could do a nearby lead mine the next day, and I thought that was a spiffing idea. We met up in Capel Curig.

First, Dave P and Lionel arrived. It was good to see them! A few minutes later, Dave and Julian appeared too. We were complete! It was a nice small group. Good for an SRT trip. But first: coffee in the cafe. It was nice to catch up!

We got to the entrance and rigged the pull-through. The first drop doesn't get you anywhere spectacular, and things weren't improved by something dead making the whole level smell unpleasant, but we couldn't move swiftly on. The rope didn't pull through! Dave went back to sort things out. It was a lot of faff but we sorted it in the end, and could move on to the next pitch.

Dave P descending

This pitch gets you to the top of a platform, with ladders going off in two directions. One leads to a cart, where we did a nice small photo session. The other one leads to the way on; three ladders get you further down. When you step from the level with the lowest ladder into the main chamber you get a nice surprise; the biggest wooden ore chute I am aware of. Everybody was very impressed! And many pictures were taken.

The main chamber

From that chamber many short levels lead on, and one long one; to explore that, one needs to crawl. Nobody was very keen, so we went down the winze. And from there we went back up a different route with ladders and hand lines; that way you can come to one of the attractions of the mine without the crawling. A car wedged at the bottom of a shaft! One of the men even recognised what type of car it was.

The famous car

We then went down and out. Dave P had clearly had enough as he legged it, while we lingered a bit more; Dave had more pictures to take. When we got to the junction with the clack valve the men went wild. More pictures were taken! And then we ventured into the level to the left which leads to a very big stope. More pictures! As both moving beyond this stope and going in the opposite direction at the junction leads to wet underwear we skipped that, and went out, hoping to find Dave back.

 Admiring a launder

We did find Dave, still inside; he had just advised some unprepared people to go out. When we came out to we had a chat with them; it was a couple of which the man was a historian, interested in mining heritage. They were glad to see us, and they seemed to visit the southwest fairly often; they may join the PCG more often. Then we washed our kit and changed. Finally we shook off the couple and went to the pub for a swift half.

It had been a great day! All had been impressed by the mine, and two of the men had enjoyed the SRT practice (be it only going down). And I was glad to have seen some old friends. Especially Lionel who hadn't changed a bit, and Dave, who had! He hadn't acquired the moniker "big Dave" for no reason but he had clearly started stepping up his game. When we walked to the entrance, uphill all the way, he was in the avant-garde! I hope they come back next year and that he's continued on this trajectory! We might have to call him Athletic Dave then. Spiffing!

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