There's something about snow, and when a bunch of mine explorers
with 4 wheel drives decide to play. There had been some snow in the Dale, and
Les persuaded us to put snow poles along the track to the mine. At the time we
made fun of him. Then it snowed. You couldn't see the track. All you could see
was the poles, nearly buried in drifts.
I had bought some nice shiny
snow chains, fearlessly venturing into the drifts in my shiny new Landover,
which promptly bogged in a deep drift. We crawled underneath and dug it out,
and from then on, bulldozed the drifts, shovelled the excess, and after an 8 am
start, finally made it with engines racing, to the mine pad at about
All around us was a white wonderland, framed in clear blue
skies. I got out of the Landover and walked around the corner to the cut. Oh
dear. The mine had gone. In its place was 14' of drifted snow, nicely filling
the cut into the entrance. Not to be deterred at this stage, Mick decided to
have a dig, and a tunnel was started through the snow at about the point where
we thought the entrance might be. After another hour or so, a level turned into
a decline, and we holed through to the entrance. Power cables were quickly
brought through, and connected to the nice shiny new 7 kVA, 30 Amp generator
that I had brought up. Another few minutes of suiting and lamping up, quickly
followed by a reunion with Ian who was a bit late, having had to work that
morning, resulted in the winch running overtime for the rest of the day. Ian
and myself spilled relentlessly and the rest of the crew barrowed broken rock
into the blind heading of the main level.
There's something 'wintery'
about coming out of the mine, in muddy overalls only to find that when you try
to get them off, they are stiff, frozen solid and unmoving. Soot the dog,
having run down the level in comparatively warm water, emerged into the
freezing winter sunshine and turned into a frozen block. Her fur crackled, and
she could hardly move her legs, they were blocks of ice. A good run down the
fell through the snowdrifts thankfully loosened the ice up.
evening a fun night was had in the Bluebell, Soot firmly ensconced in front of
the fire on her towel, the rest of the team happily downing pints. It's not all
about mining; sometimes the experience of the day is more about time and place,
nature's wonders. This was truly one of those weekends when the mine came
second to nature's beauty.
Report by Pete.