18 March 2020

Last minute Fish Mine trip

I had only heard the cave rescue training was cancelled the night before and an email from new group member James (yes I know, still no group name) landed in my inbox. He wanted to do a mine I had never heard of, that very weekend! A bit short notice; this was not going to be an official trip, if there even is such a thing. I didn't get around to looking the place up until Saturday. Friday was busy with the fieldtrip, and then all sorts of stuff to be sorted, a fair amount of which to do with the Covid-19 situation. So I knew little about it, but it sounded fun. Small mine, some SRT. So I said it sounded great. And so did Chris and Kate/Bob. Kate/not Bob was otherwise engaged.

We gathered near Llandudno, all piled into the biggest car, and were off. Soon we were parked up. Time to get changed! And this was an unusually well-signposted mine. There was an information sign at the kissing gate to the path into the woods, and it had the entrance marked on it. That's unusual!

We walked up the path, and soon came across the lower entrance. Looked nice! But we kept going. We wanted to go in at the top, go all the way down, and then retrace our steps back up. We got to the top of the platform. Now we had to find that entrance! But we soon did.

The lower entrance

Arriving at the top of the platform. Nice views!

James rigged the first pitch. It was a narrow rift with a tree to rig from at the top, then a Y-hang, and then a deviation. And Kate hadn't done much SRT before! But we kept an eye on what she did and we all ended up safely down.

From the bottom of that pitch there was some crawling through mud involved. And then soem cleaner crawling. And then some seriously stooped walking. This was an old mine! It was clearly cut with pick-axes. And then you don't cut more than strictly necessary.

I came to a junction, On one side was the next pitch down; on the other side, a level went off into the distance. That was very stoopy too! But it had a few higher bits, where the miners had followed the ore vein a bit further up.

When we had explored to the end we had a sandwich. And we rigged the next pitch. And the next. And the next! The came thick and fast now. Not much to explore laterally. But James enjoyed the rigging, and Kate enjoyed the SRT practice, and we had a lovely time. Some of the pitches were a bit awkward! So good practice.

A rather typical, thus low, level

Me at the top of a pitch (pic by Kate)

Kate at the top of one of the pitches

Popping into the lowest level from a suspected air shaft. Pic by Kate.

We then reached the bottom of the last pitch. And the place got big! The Victorians had clearly been at work here. This was clearly a blasted level. And then you can have them big enough to stand up, and wide enough to swing a cat! 

We popped out into the sun. It was a lovely day! But then we went back in to get back up and out. Chris decided to go back to the cars; he had decided this wasn't a day for prussicking back up. So we came back up, and derigged, and went back down. The disadvantage of this way of coming out is that you need to do the crawling-through-mud thing at the very end! But on the way down you pass the lower entrance again, with its stream coming out, so you can clean up. 

At the car we met Chris again. It had been a nice little trip! I'm enjoying this! 
I also pondered that one reason I had been hesitant to quit the ThursdayNighters was that I didn't enjoy the aspect of being the only women there (some 98% of the time), but figured the way to attract more women is to have women. If I would leave they would be back to zero. And that might not be very inviting to other women who might want to go underground in north Wales. But that sorted itself; there's now a less unbalanced group in town! Success!  

Group pic

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