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Gudhamgill Vein - Surface Shafts (15/03/09)

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The Gudhamgill Vein is pock marked on the surface with many shaft mounds, a hand full are open and ripe for exploration, offering the possibility of access to levels that are unreachable via horse levels - or so the cross sections of plans say... About 3 years ago I did a surface walk with Aubrey and Karli and we found three shafts that were open, Karli had subsequently dropped one of them, and nothing was done since. Armed with the Duracell Shaft Bunny (Karli) we set of, up the fell side homing in on various mounds.

Borehole Sump:

Karli had mentioned that this sleeper capped shaft did vent, after seeing it one year with melted snow around it and vapor. We had been to the bottom of this a few years back in the Gudhamgill High horse level, but did not really pay much attention to it, as far as I could remember there was a pile of rubble and it looked blocked. From a plan, we calculated the shaft to be 39m deep, with a level 9m from the bottom. The question is, was the level open and how deep is the blockage? We removed one of the sleepers and rigged the shaft with Dog Pete's nice new virginal 11mm rope. The first thing that struck us was how wobbly the airpipe going down the shaft was, and I was thinking about it crashing down on me. Anyway, no time like the present and I climbed into the shaft, Karli cheerfully pointing out that the stemples for the ginging look rather bendy and the stonework on top was bulging. After a bit of deliberation I started down. All in all, past then ginging the shaft was in a good state, with a lot of ochreous flutes on the walls. However, the really ochreous zone started at the level that intersected the shaft. The level itself looked fallen in, and had some timber work at its edge, a bit more of an abseil and I hit the bottom, which was holding water at 37m. Maybe a little clear out at the bottom via the horse level would improve ventilation to the level, which is know for its bad air. It would also give an easier route to have a better look at the level higher up. Interesting to see that it was holding water, but Karli had said that it did vent - maybe something has changed or air is getting through via nooks and crannies. Climbing back out, much to the amusement of the others I had turned in Tango Man again, oh and so had Pete's rope.

Old Man's Workings Shaft:

Moving on up the track and climbing higher up the fell side we came to our second target, a small beehive capped shaft that we previously measured to be 17m deep, this is the one that Karli had been down before. Carefully removing the stones around the steel frame we rigged the shaft top, before setting down we had lunch on the surface for a change. The weather has become sunny and the mound around the shaft provided a break from the wind, very civil. Once eating had finished, Dog Pete abseiled down first, then myself, Pete and Karli.

The first thing that hit us was that the country rock here was completely different to what we are used to in the other mines on lower horizons, it seemed to be made from a crumbly, oxidised sandstone. The shaft bottomed out on a pile of debris and it looked like it might be a choke, as you could look down a tight hole and see lots of other rubbish, including a car tyre, the sides also gave this impression. On the southwest side there were stacked deads, almost making the shaft wall, and on the north east side it looked like the floor had fallen in. Climbing out on the north east side allowed a better feel for the place, and we could tell that it was a stope following the vein. To the south west, the stope came to a fall - I wonder if this may connect with the adit further down the hill? Moving on in, it became apparent that a lot of the walls had crumbled and come in on the stope floor, we also had to negotiate a number debris slopes, which indicated that there had been levels here once. The working had an old feel to it and surely enough soon we started seeing picks mark everywhere. As we moved further in we could see that the vein material was primarily galena, intermingled with fluorspar. In many places the vein was very narrow and as you squeezed through you came face to face with more pick marks - the old man only dug out what was worth while! Finally we reached what looked like a forehead, but above our heads we noticed a small opening to more stoping, the only way on would have been to try and do some digging taking out rocks in an already crumbling passage - hummm. On reaching the surface, the sun had disappeared replaced by a even more chilly wind - that's Nenthead for you.

Deep Shaft:

The last two shafts, even though the Old Man Working Shaft was interesting - were no goers, and we were pinning our hopes on this one to lead somewhere more exciting. Whilst I derigged with Dog Pete the last shaft, Pete and Karli rigged this one up. From the cross section, this shaft was supposed to be around 110m deep, with a level at the 40m mark, which also had a link to the same horizon as the main shaft. A quick sounding test made the Duracell Shaft Bunny feel a bit apprehensive, but a bit of mickey taking soon sorted him out! After doing some gardening work around the top Karli descended into the depths.

First reports back, were that the shaft was in really good condition with no real falls from the sides, at the 43m mark a level was encountered as expected. However, it seemed to have been half walled up with stacked shale, and behind this was water and sludge, with not much head room. We had hoped that this would be nicely open, as it should have given access to a small working and another link to the Gudhamgill High Level via a angled shaft, as well as being a breathing point instead of having to do a full 110m descent and climb out. On face value it was not to be. Carrying on down, pass the first level and not shown on the plan was what seemed like another level at the 60.5m mark, but this if it was a level was completely blocked. Once Karli reached the bottom, there was nothing much to report, apart from being flooded at the 82m mark, oh and some poor air. Karli, returned very quickly back to the top, looking rather wet, but clean. The only real bonus on this exploration was that the we did not have to clean the rope afterwards.