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Fleming's to Taylor's Level Through Trip, (04/04/09).

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Having spent yesterday pottering around, something more gritty was required today and I could not think of anything better than showing everyone the through trip on the Red Dell section of the Bonsor Vein that I got shown last year. The morning was grey, cloudy and blowy whilst kitting up at the YHA, and this kept us company as we made our trek up the valley towards Fleming's Level.

After half an hour or so, we finally arrived at the portal, last minute checks, and I went in first, followed by the others - reassuringly smiling as all cursed at the sudden deep cold water. This part of the level is a cross cut some 130m long to Fleming's Vein. When we reached the tee junction on the vein, a north turn took us deeper into the workings and the first collapse in the floor. Here a short 9m pitch dropped us down deeper into the stope. Carrying on, we crawled through some very interesting looking stacked deads to reach a stemple way. Proceeding along I pointed out that the way on was actually half way along the stemples down a 15m pitch known as the narrow stope. For the moment we intended to pass this and climb up into an area, which affords a fantastic view into some very large stope workings and a section of the Thriddle Shaft. After looking at the large stope, we returned back to the stemples and abseiled down the narrow stope, which brought the party out at the top of a rubble slope. At this point I could not remember what the next section entailed, so to be on the safe side a hand line was rigged and Glasses Pete went down for a look. Shortly it was confirmed that the bottom of the slope was the awkward 3rd, 17m pitch. Glasses went down and, I and the others followed. Near the bottom of the pitch you reach a rubble slope and the idea was to get of on to it, so that we could go up the slope and look at the Thriddle Shaft. Finally once everyone had made it to the viewing point, we all went back down and continued along the shattered stopes until the final 9m pitch to Taylor's Level was reached.

Having landed on Taylor's Level, everyone spaced out along the narrow passage to have lunch. Afterwards we made our way across a hopper and through a dodgy looking fall towards the Thriddle Shaft. Retracing our steps back to were lunch was had, we followed the twisting and turning route along Taylor's Level, passing chasms, deads held up by branches and very soft looking stemples. At one point we reached some woolly orange fungus covered timber, and the draft here was practically howling past. Right past the fungus growth the next site that greeted us was a striking shallow blue pool, with the blue coming form the various copper salts that had precipitated out in it. Moving on, and rounding a corner we passed over a flooded section of stope, full well knowing what we were walking on. Here we encountered the New Engine Shaft and started our climb up the large rubble slope some 20m high. The slope was directly under the fenced off open stopes at the surface. Fallen and washed in debris of twigs, leaves and heather could be seen amongst the rocks, along with the occasional speck of day light - so near, but yet so far away!

At the top of the slope, I knew what was waiting for us on the next section and it gave me a little pause for thought. Paul had raced ahead, so I let him abseil the 20m back down to Taylor's Level and the start of the traverses. Giving him and the others a little pep talk on the route, he disappeared down and once clear I followed him. Doing the first traverse the second time round was much less nerve racking than last time, though the falls of disturbed rocks into the chasm below still did nothing for my active mind. Half way round the first traverse I started to hear various expletives from up ahead - Paul must have come to the second traverse. Pete had abseiled down after me and reported that Sally's light was playing up, I had a spare, but how do you get it to her? Anyway she swapped out with Glasses Pete and it was solved. When I reached Paul, he was grinning like a Cheshire Cat at the next traverse with comments like " the rest are going to like this...". So, Paul asks me, "are you going next Mike", "no, you raced ahead playing leader, you go...", expletives. Paul got across with no problems and then I followed. Both of us waited for Pete, and then those two got going on the next set of traverses whilst I waited for Sally. I left my spare lamp with her to pass on to Glasses Pete when he arrived and proceeded round the corner to start the third double set of traverses, noticing that my forearmswere starting to ache. Once over it, a quick Mars bar and watering stoked me up. Paul and Pete disappeared on the last leg, whilst I waited for the next person. One final small traverse over a small section of fallen floor and we reached the oil drum dig and into sound passage - how nice. Passing through the slate close head, and into the final passage to the outside, the level rewarded us with another wetting of our feet and legs, a small price to pay for getting out again.

As I came out, Pete and Paul were grinning and already exchanging experiences of the day, the others came out and more of the same. It had been a demanding day, and oh how nice the beer was going to be in Coniston that evening!