MinesMine PlansLinksContactLinksHome

Gudhamgill Mine - Shaft Clearance (25/02/11)

Back to Gudhamgill Mine Trip Index

The air quality in the Gudhamgill Level is not the greatest, there is no air circulation and from trip reports carried out by other explorers the oxygen can be as low as 15% within sight of the portal. In view of this we decided it would be a useful exercise to try and improve the air via the surface shaft that connects to the level when the drive in hits the Gudhamgill Moss Vein. Almost 2 years ago we carried out an explore of surface shafts on the Gudhamgill Moss Vein. The one which connects with the Gudhamgill Level from a cross section was calculated to be 39m deep. It was possible to abseil down to 37m. Calculated depth of blockage 2m, say plus or minus 2m, not that much debris to come out, meaning it could be carried out in relative safety, without fear of being buried.

We entered the adit and I thankfully spotted the decomposing body of a rabbit, thus alerting the others to this potential mine mine. Past that we carried on to the site of the old dig and then into chest deep water until the junction with the surface shaft was reached. Pete kindly supplied a 6' pinch bar, perfect for the job allowing for plenty of clearance. Karli, being the gardening expert proceeded to start poking the debris and wedging the pipes in the bottom. Nothing much happened at first, but after a while with space made at the top of the pile we started to see and hear some productive things and sounds. First the water coming down increased, then we got a fair few rocks and lots of ochreous sludge. This continued in fits and starts for around 10 minutes. Quite pleased so far. We even managed to remove a section of pipe and a rail. When this was done, a bit more poking up into the shaft was carried out and then we retreated due to the sounds up above. Adrenaline was starting to pump around our bodies whilst we stood and looked at the shaft bottom. A few more sounds could be heard, then the water coming down started to increase along with the sludge, a rumble and then a massive gush of water came forth out of the shaft. It spread out very quickly, and suddenly there was a wall of brown water coming towards us. At this point it was a case of turn round and leg it (wade it) down the level. Expecting to be washed by the tidal wave and to end up swallowing lots of fetid water, we were surprised that we were all still standing - thankfully the expected worst did not happen.

Deep breaths, laughter and lots of swearing, followed by a some shakes. All we suffered was a good splashing of orange splats on our faces and gear. It looks like the deluge of water was all hot air. As estimated the blockage was 2m deep, so we could not have had that much come down, what happened was that the water that did come down, hit the sludge and water in the level causing a big splash towards us. In the heat of the moment, it looked like a tidal wave. All calmed down, we removed some of the debris around the shaft bottom and waited for things to settle. A few more rocks came down, Karli poked at the remaining pipe, which goes all the way to the surface to try and dislodge anymore loose stuff - thankfully no more came down. Looking carefully up into the shaft, we could see daylight some 39m above and the level that runs above the horse level - mission accomplished.

Once happy with the shaft settling we crawled past it to have a look at what lay beyond. We knew that the borehole sump was past it and two blind headings. However we were not expecting to see a whole wall of graffiti - very impressive. The borehole sump looked open and clear, dropping a stone down it, we estimated that it was some 30m deep. Was it open, could it give access to workings above the Gudhamgill Horse Level? Having hanged around in the water now for almost an hour we were getting cold, my feet felt like blocks of ice and attempting to move my toes resulted in a slow motion action - not good. We went further up the level and got out of the water into the stope further along and had lunch. Very weird this, as I have never really suffered from the cold, but this time my feet were so cold that I ended up pouring coffee into my wellies in an attempt to warm them up - after 5 minutes or so, feeling was returning. After lunch we had an explore of the stope and then I hung around whilst Karli and Pete went further up the level to the orche bath.

They returned after 10 minutes or so and we made our way out. I thought that I would also mention that I tried out a new photo flood lamp based on the Luminous SST-90 LED. For the first time whilst getting used to it, my camera suffered from over exposure! The light is very cold, hence the number of photographs looking bluish. I need to adjust the white balance. For the lamp builders out there, the flood lamp has 5 modes: 300, 600, 900, 1200 and 1500lm. It runs from a 2.9Ahr 7.2V Li-ion pack and can give 45 minutes full power. However it is only designed for short usage as it otherwise gets hot. Auto turn off after 35s on time. All housed in a clear lidded Peli micro case.

Back at home I had a look at a cross section of the Gudhamgill and found that the total depth of the Borehole Sump was just under 50m, 49.3m to be exact, clearly there must be a blockage down there.