MinesMine PlansLinksContactLinksHome

Gudhamgill Mine - Horse Level and Stopes (25/03/06)

Back to Gudhamgill Mine Trip Index

Some six weeks ago Jim together with friends had discovered some massive stopes in Brownley Hill, later on he discovered that they where in fact in the Gudhamgill Mine. From what Jim said, the stopes sounded very impressive and we have ended up going to have a look at them, Jim coming along and giving us details of what they had discovered.

To reach the Gudhamgill Mine Horse Level we headed in through the Brownley Hill Low Level portal, going past the Engine Shaft and eventually taking the Gudhamgill Burn Cross Vein heading south south, east. This is the level that you go along when doing the Rampgill to Brownley through trip. We carried along for some 600m and finally we came to the Gudhamgill Horse Level branch, by the 'lava' flow coming down from shaft above. Here we took a left entering Gudhamgill Mine.

I wish I had taken my surveyors tape to see how far we went along the horse level, to try and find out which rise we went up and where the collapse is, but that will have to be done another time. Off the top of my head we must have only gone around 200m or so before the we climbed up a rise. Once above the horse level, a short scramble took us to the foot of a iron ladder, another climb and we were in the stope. It was the mother of all the stopes, the biggest we had seen to date, Jim had not exagerated the size at all. Carrying on in an north easterly direction we proceed to explore the stope with Jim informing us of various things they had discovered. After a short while we came to a large sump that had to be negotiated by hugging the wall and then by crossing a wooden ladder. The sump seemed to be a manway on one side and ore shoot on the other, with the dividing partition made out of deads - something non of us had seen before. Past the sump we climbed on to a wall that seemed to section the stope, here there was a large shaft going up and leading down with an fantastic iron stained calcite flow - with the water flowing down the calcite formation in ripples it almost looked alive like an alien being. Here the stope had opened out and we could truly see the scale of the working.

Carrying along we passed may features, there were many exposed levels in the working which is indicative of the mines history - first worked by the London Lead Company for lead, where the stopes were back filled with deads and levels made in them, with eventually the lease passing to the Vielle Montagne Zinc Company where the LLC's workings get reworked for zinc, hence the exposed levels in the stope. All along the stope there where sumps leading down and a few rises as well. Jim with his friends had explored most of the sumps and they tended to lead to the flooded horse level below. We eventually reached the far end of the stope where lunch was had. From initial looking around it did not look like the stope went on, but there must be a link somewhere as there was an airflow here - we let off flash powder when taking photographs and that was being drawn in, rather than out.

We retraced our passage through the stope taking photographs. This gave us a better idea of how big the stope was - a rough estimate makes it about 400m long, 10-15m high and 5-10m wide. Jim had to leave for a set time so Mark accompanied him out whilst I stayed behind with Karli to look at the collapse on the horse level and to go a bit further up along the Gudhamgill Burn Cross Vein as we had heard that there had been a fall just past the water hopper. After reaching the old dig and the water hopper we got to the beginning of the great limestone, Karli did some water management here whilst I went some 150m into the neck deep water. There was a good airflow heading up towards Rampgill and no sign of any blockage along the way - a relief - it would have been a shame if this demanding through trip could no longer be done.

Most of the photographs using the flash powder technique have come out blurred, it was difficult getting a focus over the distances in the stope and we need to work out how to do this better - probably by using more of our lights in spot mode to get a brighter focusing point. Some have been included so that a sense of scale can be portrayed for the stope size.