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Admiralty Flats via Brownley Hill, Nentsberry Haggs Mine, (26/04/08)

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Non of us in the group today have been to Haggs before apart from briefly dropping down to the level under the Compressor House in Brownley Hill. There was only one destination that we could go for - Admiralty Flats. With the earliest start in ages we arrived at the Brownley Hill adit at around 10:30.

We steamed in along the Brownley Hill entrance passage and made our way to the link to Haggs, just past the Brownley Hill North Middle Vein. Passing the rise into the Compressor House we dropped into the sublevel which leads to the laddered shaft to the Haggs Level. From here we headed northwest along the Wellgill Cross Vein. The level was in shale and despite a few small falls, it was in good condition with the water clear and reaching mid thigh at the deepest bits. Along this level, many blocked rises could be seen which led to the sublevel above that followed the vein. We carried on for some 650m before reaching the major intersection with the Haggs Horse Level from the adit. Here we saw fine arching and wonderful examples of the later VM concrete block arching along with large amounts of pipe work.

From this major junction we proceeded along in a north, northwest direction, following our pipe guide. There where more falls here and the water was an orangey colour which no doubt would help our summer glow tans. At some 150m we came to the branch with the North End Level, we took this for another 170m until we came to the cross roads with the Second Sun Vein. At this point extensive pipe work greeted us. A few 10's of metres along the Second Sun Vein and we came to the rise which would take us to our destination. The climb up to the flats was around 25m with 2 rebelays, it was at this point that it dawned on me that all the horse level is in the shale below the Great Limestone, obvious on a subconscious level, but sometimes when you actually see the strata changing it comes to the foreground in your mind.

Climbing over the edge of the rise, two things struck me, firstly, the mismash jumble of pipes and rails held together by a rats nest of ropes over the rise and the second, the amount of rubbish left lying around everywhere - can people not take it out with them? Waiting for Karli and Pete to get up, I could not help myself and I had a brief look around. One thing was obvious, the scale of the flats was pretty amazing, and the sparkle of sphalerite could be seen everywhere. Once the other two got up, they had the same impressions as I did about the rats nest and rubbish. We headed east into the flats along a passage that varied in size, sometimes opening up into a large wide area, sometimes high and narrower. In places holes in the roof gave a glimpse into higher workings. Old timber remains of stemples and boxes could be seen on the floor along with the ever present air pipes. At one point we found some detonator boxes, with large amounts of fuse and explosives instructions. All along our way we came across more rubbish, plastic bags, lots of lager cans and of course the tell tail newspapers. Karli spotted a very odd newspaper, with a picture of Bin Laden and all of it in Arabic. In one wider area of the flats we came to a raised floor in the middle, past this the flats continued until reaching the forehead, a total distance of some 225m. We returned to the wide area with the raised floor and had lunch. Here, on further exploration we found the remains of an ore truck and a hopper which gave access to the the higher workings.

Climbing up the hopper with the help of pipes and hand lines we entered the higher workings, these looked to be at the top of the Great Limestone, with a thick bedding plain shale roof. All over the floor there where white rocks, which on closer examination turned out to be witherite. Towards the east the workings came to an end in a back filled pile of smashed minerals. Westward we came to an area where the shale roof had come down in humongous thick slabs. Passing over the top of this we could see that more was fracturing away. You definitely would not want one of these puppies landing on you! Past the fall we carefully made our way down a rubble slope as there was a sump at the bottom of it. Eventually this area led back to above the main rise from the horse level. Along the way we saw more air pipes, some broken drill steels and the iron shoe of a pair of clogs.

We made our way back down and returned to the top of the access rise. Here we crossed it to see what was on the west side. Only about 35m of level, which ended in a sump going back down to the horse level at the junction with the Second Sun Vein. There where quite a few artifacts here, lots of air pipes, an arch former, what looked to be old VM flexible air pipe, smashed wooden boxes, steel cables, a cuddly toy and a stash of dynamite cakes in a pocket that Karli noticed. We returned to the other side again and abseiled back down. At the junction we decided to go on along the level to reach the High Raise Vein and see how far that went.

Heading further in, at some 220m we reached a corner and picked up the High Raise Vein, bearing east. This was shown on an old plan to be called the East Level. The passage was pretty much the same as before, driven in shale, knee to thigh deep orange water, with the ever present large air pipe. We where wondering how far to go along here as time (as ever) was pressing on, another 15 minutes was decided, which ended up being just about enough. After a while we came to a steel ladder going up to a sublevel above, and past this on the horse level you had to pass some rather poor looking timber supports holding back deads. Just past this there was a hopper, and after that arched passage way, but with very deep water. Wetsuits needed for the way on? Not exactly sure how far we went along the High Raise Vein, but I think it was some 400-450m.

It was an excellent trip and long over due, lots of photographs where taken as all of us had brought our cameras. Pete had taken his SLR for an outing and some excellent snaps where taken with that.