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Golconda Mine Tour by Sally (26/09/10)

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The last time I went down Golconda was in 2003, were I tagged along with PDMHS. It was a 'quick' tour without having the chance to have a good look around and see the place. I managed a few photos of poor quality with my 35mm compact - we all just don't know how easy we have it with digital cameras now! Anyway, this time round I got to have a more personal trip with Sally doing the guiding specifically to take snaps.

The day started with us being winched down the Upper Golconda Shaft, a depth of 110m. From here we headed to have a look at the well preserved compressor and pump on route to the Syphon Gate. From the Syphon Gate we made our way to the incline that connects the 60 and 70 fathom levels. Taking the incline we made our way along low passages heading ultimately for the Nether Shack, Buxton Hole and the Big Shack. Along the way we came across a number of tubs and various artifacts such as air pipes, the odd tool, and truck wheels. As we progressed the mine developed a more cave like structure and it became obvious that we were entering natural passages. Finally we arrived at the impressive chamber called the Big Shack. It is about 150m long, with width ranging from a few metres to 20m in places. Towards the northern end is a large calcite flow with a calcified bottle in it. We took a number of pictures and had a good look around, then it was time for some lunch - a nice place to have it in.

Afterwards, we made our way back to the incline with the intention of visiting the Forest. The Forest is a set of unfilled excavated and natural flats with timber supports in them. Heading northwest towards the Manchester Gate we took a deviation north up an incline and then entered a maze like set of torturous low flats. Sally managed to find the way through the flats and only after a couple of wrong turns we got to the small 10m rise which gave access to the Forest. A climb up the ladders, a quick duck walk and we were there. It was a very impressive sight, there was a number of pools all with calcite ice on them, a low murmur of water and all these timber pillars. It looked like the home of some troglodytes. We took to having a look around and taking photographs. From previous visits, a number of candles had been left around the flats, which just had to be lit to see what it would be like. Finally after 10 minutes or so about 20 candles had been lit, very atmospheric and time for lamps off. At first the light was very dull, but after a while as your eyes got used to the light level, it hit home again what it must have been like when there were no bulbs or LED's. We took some more photographs in the candle light and then retraced our route to the Manchester Gate.

Once back down the incline, we carried on heading northwest with the aim of going to see a winch and some air tanks. The going here was much better than in the low flats and simpler to follow. After a short while we dropped down an incline passing a pully and drill steel, then carried on. The level pretty much all along was higher than what we had come across before and made the going that much easier. It is worth noting that the level was actually a passage through a long series on back filled flats. Finally we came to a junction and Sally raced up it, up a crawl, over some timber and rails and we had reached the winch. Just past this were the air tanks, some of which had also been used in the stacking of the deads. Time was getting on now, and we took more snaps and then rushed back to the shaft for winching up to surface - 7 hours flies when your having fun.