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Greenlaws Firestone Level Dig - Snow, (18/12/11).

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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 lunchtime.

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.

In the 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.