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MOVIES: Mines around ALSTON


We've been really busy over the past few weeks but managed to get a few hours to explore around the workings of Tyne Head.

The adit we explore today is not the main mine at the top of the valley but a smaller sub level situated higher up the moor near to the springs supplying the Tees and Cowgreen Reservoir. Inside we find a large amount of miners graffiti which is scattered throughout the mine, some dating back as early as 1836.

The passage is very wet to start and is certainly deep in places but the mine does dry out as we head in towards the first split in the adit. Taking the right hand passage takes us to a large internal shaft with some of the hoisting timbers still in place, then moving on we come to a laddered rise and some areas of stopes.

The left hand passage at the split takes us to an older area of the mine which eventually ends in a collapse, interesting to note the modern blast pipes that are throughout the entire working.


Today we visit Smallcleugh mine in Nenthead, passing through the hard crosscut as we make our way down to the Smallcleugh flats. We work our way through the mine to meet Wheel flats, through the horrible tight and long crawl of George Hetheringtons crosscut to eventually arrive in the Ballroom - a massive chamber hewn out of solid rock where in 1901 the Victorians held a banquet (or ball - hence the name) whereby all the gentry and women were invited to eat, drink and dance.  Unfortunately a strange blue smoke/fog/vapour was encountered as we neared and entered the Ballroom, it had a slight smoky smell and became so dense that we literally couldn't see our hand in front of our face - very strange and something we've not experienced in this mine before. We leave the ballroom and head out of the mine following Smallcleugh cross vein (the shale passage). This movie is quite long at 1.5 hours, it is cut in places to try and reduce the movie time but there's a lot to see in this enormous mine.



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.


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: More 360 degree places added!. Loads of movies recently added in the Weardale area including Groverake, Skears and Frazers Hush mines.

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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. Respect private property and seek permission from the respective land owner where required, always act responsibly and always inform someone else of your whereabouts.

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