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Box Freestone Mine - Northern Region route from the SMCC survey (29/04/05).

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Our second visit to this impressive mine / quarry system following the SMCC Northern Region route with entrance via the Backdoor.

Immediately on entering we turned left and pasted a collapse which brought us out on the OXO II route, from here we then picked up the AO route and headed for the Tank. At the Tank we hit the Cliffworks Passage which is the main route and haulage way into the Northern Region of the mine. Along the Cliffworks Passage we passed examples of stone walling and fine archways all on a very large scale. Eventually we came to the iron door (more like a portcullis in a castle with its stone archway) which is the only way into the Northern Region proper.

After some 150m we came to a shaft with day light streaming down it, here we took the left fork and started a circular route which would eventually lead us back to the same spot. In this part of the mine the most stiking feature is that there are artifacts everywhere, saws, saw benches, sharpening files, buckets, tins, boots and tongs to name a few. After reaching some end workings we came across some large stone blocks that had never been extracted - you are aware of the scale of things but, until you see some of the stone blocks it does not really hit home. Here we had lunch and then after that we headed for the Hut. At the Hut which is made out of corrugated iron we headed into the most northern part of the mine to see our first cranes which where very impressive, however they where in poor condition with the beams broken, maybe due to the amount of water in this part of the mine.

After retracing our steps back to the hut we headed south to rejoin the Cliffworks passage. Here we should have kept heading south to do a tour of the passages and artifacts south of the Cliffworks passage, but due to to time constraints we ended up heading back to the day light shaft along the Cliffworks passage. In the guide it describes that there are a number of 'Hideous Falls' along here and when we did see them, it was definitely the case, some for the blocks where in the 8m region. Before reaching the Iron Door again we did take a look at the truck and some of the other cranes in the passages east and north of the surface reservoir near Leafy Lane - this was well worth the detour as the cranes where very impressive and in excellent condition. Finally with time pressing on, we retraced the entrance route via the Iron Door and exited.

Navigating in the mine the second time round was much easier as we had already been exposed to the shock of the scale of things and making sure we had a compass with us this time helped matters - no getting lost like last time. A return visit is in order to carry out the full circular tour - however the Southern Region could well be beckoning.