08 February 2023

Hendre Spar with Sharon

One of the ladies in the rescue team, Sharon, had told me quite a while ago that if I want to go underground, I should just give her a shout. She was up for going together! And since then she had asked me a few times if I was available for going on trip with her, but I had never been.

With Lydia I was supposed to go underground during the exam period, but that hadn't quite happened. So we still needed to sort that out! I bumped into her on the way to the interesting seminar about floating windfarms, and that very day we picked a weekend in which it was going to happen. We haven't decided yet where. But that very evening I asked Kate, Miles and Sharon if they would be available for that as yet undefined trip.

Sharon’s answer came quite quickly. She was working that weekend! But she wasn't working this one. Was I perhaps available for a trip that very next day? And it was a bit short notice, but I figured I was up for something. And one of her suggestions had been Hendre Spar Mine. I thought I had been, but years ago. I said yes! And made sure I got to bed early. She would pick me up the next day at 8 am.

When I saw her car turn into my street I noticed there was the handsome face of a dog looking out of the backseat window. That was bonus! Sharon explained that we could drive to the mine, walk the dog, go into the mine, and then go back to the dog. That way she would only be alone for a few hours, and she seemed to be totally fine with that. It sounded good to me!

We did as planned. Sharon navigated us to where we could park, and we had a little recce with dog and all. The entrance was very easy to find! And then we got dressed. The dog settled down for a nap.

The entrance is basically a hole in the ground with two ladders sticking out. We went down them, and got to a small passage with a sign indicating danger. Of course we went through. And then we just started to explore! Sharon remembered the place, but not in detail. We just made it up as we went along. We knew it wasn't a big mine, so we could just explore everything. Most levels were connected with ladders. Most of them in excellent shape!

At the entrance. Pic by Sharon

When you come out into a big stope. Pic by Sharon

Pretty cart. Pic by Sharon

Descending more ladders. Pic by Sharon

We came to one quite steep slope with a lot of loose rubble. It is a feldspar mine, and the ground is made up of crystals that look like coarse granulated sugar. You can slide down on that quite easily! And at the bottom of the slope there was a pipe you could hold onto, and at the top there was a chain, but in between there was nothing. And Sharon scaled the whole thing before realising she had done that before, and discovered that there was nothing worth seeing at the top. So I didn't bother!

We also came to an intriguing rope. And not much later, we reached the furthest point we could get too. We sat down for lunch. I was hungry!

During lunch we discussed whether we should try out that rope. If you approach it from the bottom, you have no way of knowing what it is attached to, and how. But we decided to trust it and prussick up. I went first. I decided that some of the karabiners were a bit rusty, but they would totally hold us. And I quickly checked where we would come out. I recognised a passage we had walked past on the way in, thinking we wanted to explore that at a bit later on! Sharon thought that all sounded fine, and followed me.

Ascending the mystery rope. Pic by Sharon

The last bit we explored. Pic by Sharon

When we came out of the passage we came across three other explorers. They just about said hello but nothing else! Strange people.

We made our way back without incident. Close to the entrance we passed one more ladder we hadn't gone down yet. We checked that out as well! It didn't lead to expansive workings, but we were glad we had seen them. And then we went out. And after a surface selfie we went back to the dog. She was very glad to see us again!

We walked the dog again; this time bringing a ball for extra excitement. And then we went back.

Given that it hadn't been a big mine, and we had started early, it wasn't very late when we got back. I decided to just go for a run. I still had energy! And although Sharon is going to join us on the trip with Lydia, I think we both enjoyed the trip, so we might do this again! And I might even get more kisses from the dog next time…

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