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As we return from the Brandy Bottle Incline we couldn't help but notice that we had passed several other adits on the way up the valley. We decide to pass a bit of time by exploring Hard Level (not to be confused with Hard Level Force, the lower/wetter level).

The working was commissioned to direct water into a series of external ponds via a system of leats that would have been used to power various water powered equipment such as a water wheel (pit evident in the ground not far from the entrance).

As we work our way into the level, we come across a small 'rabbit hole' low to the ground, as we poke our heads into the hole we can hear a strange noise coming from within, we're not sure what was causing the noise but we continue on our way up until we meet a heavy fall. Climbing over the fall we can head up into a stope like area with some massive rocks hanging like grapes in the roof, as we turn around we notice that a particularly large rock is held in place by one rather rotten looking stemple. All exciting stuff!


Having walked for about 40 minutes past the Old Gang smelting works we can't help but find the large double adit entrance to the Brandy Bottle incline, its self an impressive sight.

This is the first time we've been back to this mine for over 11 years, at that time there had been a large collapse in the level and we decided not to explore further. In this movie we return to find that the collapse has been cleared as we make our way down the very steep incline into the workings.

We go as far as the junction in the incline and firstly take a left turn  exploring as much of the area as we can, then return to the junction and continue right down to the bottom of the incline to find a load of smashed wagons (probably having fallen from the haulage).

As we make our way back up we veer off the main drift into some side workings and through some crawl areas that meet up with the top of the shafts that we noticed in the haulage run. This movie is about one hour in length as there was a lot to see!

We return to the incline a second time just a few weeks after the first visit because we noticed that the camera was hunting on the focus during descending the incline. On our return we are armed with a new front element fitted to the camera because the first has a number of small marks that seemed to be upsetting the camera focus.

On this visit we return down to the smashed up trucks at the bottom of the incline but has we ascend we notice a load of funny miners graffiti etched (with soot from a candle) onto the rock wall that shows that someone at the time was upset about some trucks having been stolen. It was worth the revisit to notice the text!

As we continue to ascend the incline we veer off and further explore the right hand passages, at the end of the level (at a collapse) we hear a strange deep distant noise. We decide to return to the small crosscut that adjoins the levels underground before making our way back up the incline to the surface.



The weather was certainly not helping getting up the hill to the upper adit of Ashgill head mine with a howling wind and bursts of snow falling which was drifting in all of the gulleys making the walk up the hill quite slow going.

When we eventually reach the adit we find that the snow has completely drifted into the entrance so a bit of digging around was required to make a hole for us to enter.

Ashgill head is rumoured by the locals to have met up with Grass Hill workings below (accessible via shafts) which in turn would have met the well known Ladys Rake mine which is located far more towards Cowgreen reservoir. 

We have already found various shafts and surface workings on previous visits but this is the first time we take a proper look at the upper entrance to the mine. We then work our way back towards the main road and take another look at the lower adit (next movie)



Visiting the lower adit on the way back to the main road seemed like a good idea at the time, problems with the wet suit earlier soon made me realise that once again my feet were getting wet and trousers make a brilliant wick for water to soak up (I already know this from many previous 'wettings').

We push on in and having up until now kept quite dry considering the weather outside am soon upset to find that I'm instantly freezing in the cold mine water.

I already knew this adit was ultimately blocked as in a previous visit some 10 years or more ago, I found that a concrete pipe had been installed which has a gate at the far end(!) which halted progress. The mine has now had another collapse much nearer to the entrance and appears to have been a small shallow shaft that meets the surface near to the second bridge at the beck outside, in which rubble and things has been tossed down to block the hole at the surface.



Coldberry is made up of a mine shop (still standing), various out buildings, several shafts and four adit entrances.

In this (almost) full length movie we briefly explore all four of the adits to assess conditions before making our way deeper into the mine complex (to be uploaded to youtube in the next few weeks)

We start by exploring the collapsed horse level at the mine shop before moving up the valley to work our way to shaft bottom and explore the mouth of the shaft on the top of the hill side. From this we make our way to another collapsing passage and finally heading off to the reservoir where another entrance that is strangely very warm and almost steams because of the warmth of the air compared to that of outside.

This was the first mine that we explored some 20 years ago and it was a real treat to be able to explore the mine again and be able to look up the shaft that I've spent many a walk looking down.



We made this short movie which was during a very quick visit to the mine in 2017, I had visited the mine almost 12 years previous and spent quite a lot of time looking around and getting familiar with the site. Having not returned for such a long period of time it was easy to get lost again in the labyrinth of passages.

The air in here left us in shortened breath, though there is airflow (two open entrances) - parts of the mine are very still and the air is of declining quality.

Much of the mine is in a state of declining repair with large areas of the roof peeling away, almost all timbers are completely rotten with some large expanses of unsupported ceilings causing some concern.

In this movie we explored right to the end of one of the headings, dates are chalked on the walls dating back to the early 1900's and 1800's - the air at this area is particularly thin so we didn't spend too much time looking around, the parallel passage to the right of the heading is extremely bad air and much of the route is now a lot less pleasant to visit. Its amazing how quickly these places decay over a relatively short time.



On the way driving to the Gunnerside mines we came across what looked like a half decent heap of spoil at the side of the road. Stopping to investigate we happened upon a small adit that runs below the road on the way to Low Row, we couldn't of course drive right past it without stopping to investigate.

At the entrance there is a large pile of profiled stone work which was part of a building or wall that protected the mine entrance, making our way in we find that the floor is very thick and dense mud (we wish we used our full suits rather than just wellies). We find it uncertain as to the reason for the adit as outside there is not enough spoil to warrant a 'mine' which makes this a likely drainage adit, air flow or exploration dig.

Some of the block work passageways are really starting to show signs of stress with some good deformations in the arching, we're obviously not the first to enter as there are a lot of foot prints in the mud which look fairly fresh. The tunnel ultimately leads to a complete blockage though strangely enough the foot prints continue right through?



Stanhope was once a hive of industry with the enormous quarries that over shadow the town and several small mines that are within easy reach.

Today we explore Stanhope Burn mine, a reasonably open walk through the workings with a few crawl sections. We purposely take a tight crawl through to a section of small flats and worked out areas though there is an easier way through. Much of the mine is still accessible but little remains to be seen in way of mine equipment or other artefacts. Ultimately the mine has flooded at a laddered area which coincides with the air being somewhat thinner and a lot warmer.

Generally most of the mine is within stone with only small sections of blockwork, the land here is less shale than seen in other mines in the Teesdale and Alston area and must have taken a lot of hewing out to make progress. 


GROVERAKE (old adit)

As we make our way back from a long day out at the Nenthead mines near Alston, we pass buy the remains of Groverake mine at Rookhope. We still have some power in the camera cells so we decide to stop and take a short movie of the older adit on the site that served as a man way into the mine workings. Unfortunately (for us) the passage is rather wet and flooded with decent roof collapse near to the portal so that all of the water is backing up into the mine. I'm wearing some waterproof gear so decide that is would be worth a look for as long as the camera batteries continue to last.

We enter the mine and make our way towards a point where the level splits, a large gantry is in the distance with a passage leading both left and right of the entry route. Heading onwards the tunnel eventually leads us to the flooded area of the incline drift though the passage is extremely bad to navigate with terrible areas of mud and water that continually hinder our progress though the mine workings.



When I first started exploring mines, Marlbeck was one of the first that I found to 'cut my teeth'. Unfortunately at the time (around 2001) the level was in a poor state and much of the tunnel wall had fallen in which was causing a considerable amount of water to back up into the passage beyond.

The mine has now been cleared and the water level has dropped sufficiently to allow further progress into the workings.

In this video we start somewhere beyond the first junction at a very scenic part of the mine with lots of white 'cave straws' hanging down from the roof, we make our way in further to the other side of the junction and find some interesting things to look at on the way. Unfortunately I have arrived without my wetsuit (expecting the water level to be lower) so walked the entire way in freezing water - but will return to make some decent progress and explore some of the interesting looking sub levels and upper flats.



Rampgill is one of the many mines that intersect in the Nenthead mining complex. On this trip we take a friend through the NORPEX doorways to find a 1970's telephone (of all things) that is still present in one of the small chambers deep in the horse level.

The movie starts as we stand at the top of what appears to be an engine shaft and we make our way through a series of wet crawls and shored up collapses, passing by some vertical man ways in the mine roof until we eventually arrive at a service area with the telephone still in place. It is certainly an interesting mine with a lot to see, especially when we wonder off the horse level into other workings (Scaleburn).

We've already been out earlier exploring Tyne Bottom lead mine so we don't hang around too long because of our battery levels are lower that we'd like, so the camera is lit using the large HID torch for lighting (its a bit bright in these small passageways).

Latest update: Hard Level and Old Gang Mine/Brandy Bottle Incline Trip added and updated to the movies section.

Safety Notice: To enter a disused mine is extremely dangerous and my result in serious or fatal injury, recovery from an accident would place rescue persons involved in serious danger and in the event of a ground collapse, recovery may be impossible. You should not enter a disused mine or working without training under any circumstances.

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