18 November 2015

East again

It was one of those nights again; our ringleader working in the East inspired an underground trip in the East. In a way it's inconvenient as it's far away, but in another way it's good as it broadens our horizon. A few weeks before we had been in Bog; now we'd do its neighbour Belgrave.

Logistics were a bit odd; David was in Bangor all day so I'd have to catch the bus with all my kit and meet him there. In a way that worked. In a way it didn't; the bus was late, and I had overestimated the number of bus stops near where he was. We overshot the building by a mile! I had to walk back. Oh dear. A grumpy David awaited me. And I was in two minds about the trip anyway; I was still tired from Buxton and I knew this would get late. David suggested I might bail out. I figured he was right. But then he drove past the bus station, the last point of reasonable return, so I was committed anyway. Let's go with the flow!

We drove underneath clear starry skies. And through rorrential rain. The two changed place rather quickly. I was hoping for clear skies during changing! We found the other in torrential rain, and after some faff which pissed of David more then me we went to where we'd park. We made sure to pack tightly! Not much space. We had been informed we needed two ropes, but the locals that were coming with us to show the way (and for fun) said one would do, but we wouldn't rig a pull-through as even the locals weren't certain of the route or the condition.

We changed in light rain and set off. We had two local guides. The started criss-crossing the landscape looking for the entrance. After we'd seen the entire neighbourhood we came to an adit that was the middle one according to some, and the top one according to others. We settled on that it was the top. And went in!

Our local guide had not been in for a while it seemed. We scrambled on with a map in hand. It was a nice old lead mine. We just scampered around a bit until the pitch was found and rigged. Some went down, but didn't see a way on. What? Was something amiss? Maybe we should just get back up. Good we hadn't pulled the rope down. There was a drop further on, but we didn't have an extra rope, and the anchors looked iffy too.

A dead resident

 Some stoping

We went back up. Some of us, including the two locals, hadn't come down. The idea of this mine was that you could come in on the top and in the middle. Not in the bottom. But the top and bottom level weren't directly connected; you had to drop from the top to the bottom and then climb to the middle level. This wasn't a free climb; you need a rope. So the local chap would go back out by the time we would go down the first pitch, come in at the middle level, and drop a rope down for us. He seemed to have gone down that rope to have a look, and it seemed he had come across a collapse with water backing up to it. Oh dear!

When we came back up the pitch we heard this story. We were glad all was well! But only later on did I realise the alleged collapse had been at the level below us. Was it even there? If the guy had forgot the route requires two ropes he may well have forgot the route further down, and maybe that water belonged there. Either way; we were all out safely. And we regrouped at the middle adit. David and I went in to have a look. It looked great! We should come back one day and do a more proper explore. But for now I was glad we were out early-ish. It was a long way home! And we first had to push one of the cars out...

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