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EXPLORATION MOVIES


SMALLCLEUGH

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.


WEST STONESDALE

West Stonesdale mine, also known as both Stonesdale Moor Lead Mine and Startindale Mine was sunk in 1850 by the Blakethwaite Lead Mining Company with the intention to work the extremity of the Blakethwaite vein. Unfortunately the venture proved to be unprofitable at the far reaches as the vein contained little or no extractable ore and the mine was forced to close in 1861 never to be reopened. The building at the head of the shaft housed a hydraulic engine that powered both the pumps and winder that pulled from a depth of 270 feet.
In the movie I mistakenly say that the round building is the base of a chimney, this in fact is an old lime kiln (date unknown) and although the mine is in an area of coal pits and collieries - this mine is in fact a lead mine, not a coal mine as I thought at the time of recording.


HUNTERS SCAR

Hunters Scar Jet mine is located near to Captain Cooks monument and the Ayton Banks Mines, not far from the parking area at Gribdale Gate. The mine consists of a very small working that was originally accessed via a square shaft not far from the access road (now overgrown). It was originally mined for Jet in a small way but later converted to provide clean water via a set of internal tanks and weirs. A concrete lined access tunnel was driven to allow the associated pipework to exit the mine whilst providing a natural run off for the water outlet. Little is recorded about the history of the mine working except that it exists on maps pre-dating 1888 and with the size of the mine shaft the working may have been a lot larger than we can currently access (it seems a large shaft with not a lot at the bottom?) In this movie to fully explore the small working and work our way to the very end of the mine, unfortunately the whole place is a haven for the local spider population of which I'm non too impressed to have to crawl through.


AYTON BANKS MINE

Ayton Banks mine was relatively short lived, opening in 1910 and laying silent from 1922 up until 1929 when it was abandoned. Unfortunately hard times hit the country with the looming depression of 1930, the mine having a fairly poor yield and with the difficult location in that the spoil had to be removed 'up hill' from the adit via a series of rope ways lead to its early closure. The only thing going for it at the time was the horizon of the ore, in that around the area the iron stone runs at only a slight rise giving the surrounding mines a natural drainage and easy removal from the face. Little external structures of the mine exist to this day with only a hand full of low brick walls (one of which is the remains of the adit portal) and some substantial spoil heaps which are still relatively bare.
Some deep depressions in the earth appeared some years ago and it is one of these that we gain access to what little remains of the mine.


 

BUNTON LEVEL

This was my first visit to Bunton Level located North of Gunnerside. Originally driven into the hillside as a drainage level, Bunton level winds all the way to join the Old Gang series of mines to the East. The mine broke into the abandoned workings of 1680 at a depth of 102 feet from the surface which consisted of a number of small deep level shafts and ultimately joins into the Friarsfold vein of which penetrated the water table, hence the requirement for both Bunton and Sir Frances drainage levels. This being my first trip into the mine, I take it canny ans stick to the drainage level whilst making my way up towards an internal water control dam. Working further into the mine takes us to a much smaller and wetter area; there are at least two other routes that take a south east direction as well as four ways to access the upper workings. My mind was playing games though for some reason, I was sure I could hear either children or women talking/singing - obviously this was very unlikely and would have been the noise of the water flowing over obstructions on the mine floor. I set the camera and leave it on its own to see if it recorded any of the sounds, it didn't (I think).


HUDESHOPE WEST (PARKIN HUSH LEVEL)

Hudeshope West (Parkin Hush Level) consisted of three adits, previously having being worked via open cut around 1787. Two of the adits are on the west side of the beck with the other on the east side almost directly opposite. The mine was worked by Chayters and later by the London Lead Company with pockets of good ore found but ultimately the mine had little success in producing a good return.
The mine was privately leased and reworked in a small operation by a group during the late 1970's. (The same time SAMUK was reworking the spoil heaps of Coldberry.) At the end of the operation the east and the upper west adits were sealed leaving only the adit near beck level open.
In this quick visit I take a walk to the end of the workings on ground level, there are small workings in some very narrow stopes above the level but in total the mine is not at all large.  I did hear some rumbling whilst in here today which hopefully the camera has caught, this may have been thunder from outside as there was no sign of any movement whilst I was inside.


HARNISHA BURN LEAD MINE.

We visited Harnisha Burn mine many years ago, though at the time the mine always seemed to have a lot more water flowing through it. There is a quarry that is almost right over the top of the mine that was blown in sometime around the summer of 2014 and having been inside not long before, we had noticed a new collapse in the horse level - we assumed that after the shock waves coming from the blasting at the quarry that the mine would now be blocked solid.

In this movie we return to the mine (2018) to take a look and see if the level is still passable. The weather outside is dry as we've been here before and seen water almost reaching the top of the archway - when it rains hard, this place can really fill up.

To our surprise the level is still open after the blasting, or at least as far as to the cut off to the Yew Tree workings. There is however some very dangerous hanging rocks that really do looks as though they are soon to become another heavy fall, we were certainly thinking about the danger as we made our way into this one!


HARNISHA BURN OTHER ADITS.

This is only a short movie as we move up the valley from the Harnisha Burn lead mine adit in effort to locate and explore some of the other entrances.

The valley contains at least four other drift entrances that may have intersected the Harnisha Burn mine (excluding all the nearby Yew Tree adits) as well as very numerous shafts that are spread in a straight line as the underground workings followed the vein, though records are not that clear with some very sketchy maps form the time.

After having visited Harnisha Burn mine and noted the bad state of some areas of the horse level, it would be interesting to locate another entrance so that another way could be found to enter or leave the mine, having visited these adits years ago there is a possibility that one could be dug out in future as the blockage appears to be rather 'tidy' to be a full on roof collapse. (we hope).


HARD LEVEL.

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!


BRANDY BOTTLE INCLINE.

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.


 

ASHGILL HEAD UPPER ADIT.

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)


 

ASHGILL HEAD LOWER ADIT.

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 LEAD MINE.

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.


 

COATEMOOR IRONSTONE MINE.

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.


 

BAD AIR!

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 BURN.

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.


 

MARLBECK LEAD MINE.

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.

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!. Smallcleugh mine - Album and Movie added to the database, Ayton Banks Mine Trip added and updated to the movies section.

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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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