MinesMine PlansLinksContactLinksHome

Wellgill Shaft - Part 1, Nenthead (19/09/10)

Back to Shaft Index

We have been harping on about going down Wellgill Shaft for a while now, probably over 6 months. After yesterdays pitiful trip into Smallcleugh, we needed something a bit more interesting to do for the next day. The night before, over a drink or two, or three, or four we decided to get ourselves down Wellgill for two purposes: a) attempt to go upstream again to see the final blockage and b) to look at the debris at the shaft bottom to see if it would be possible to expose the incline level down stream.

After rigging the shaft, Karli and Pete gave me the dubious honor of dropping down into the wide open abyss first. It is a nice abseil down, the shaft is wide and solid all the way down. I landed on the large debris pile, got out of the way and shouted the obligatory 'rope free'. First thing I noticed that had changed from the last time we were here was that the ore truck had deteriorated. Half a side panel was missing since our last visit - inside there was some fresh looking shale. A shame as it was in a really good condition before, well actually maybe not if a bit of shale can knock a panel out? Pete came down next, followed by Karli. Whilst waiting for Karli, I showed Pete the chamber and the area of the way down to the incline level. He got quite infused about it and soon followed the water course around a corner of the debris pile. To the sounds of excavation, I got a shout saying he could see a gate or something! Karli was down by now and the both of them got digging - well not quite digging, more like groveling around in rocks, mud and rotten timber. Whilst they were doing that, I started to try and lower the water level from upstream, in the end this was dropped by around 30cm.

Back in the chamber, Karli and Pete had made good progress and the gate had turned out to be a grill, stopping debris spilling onto the level beyond. They had also discovered another ore truck under the debris, but as you can imagine it was flat as a pancake - only surviving bits were the wheels. It was so tempting to try and push the grill through and get into the level, but due to the debris pile on the right hand side, we concluded that the it needed shoring up - would not be good to get trapped. That would have to wait till next time.

The next thing we had to do was to try getting up stream along the concrete lined level and see how far along the fall was. It was much nicer this time round with company - two years ago I had gone up on my own. About 10 minutes into the level, we started getting the smell of rotting eggs, not good, further along, some more, and so on. Karli at this point suggested that he goes back and waits for us for a set time period. I was happy until he mentioned this then my mind started working over time, ignorance is bliss. Anyway I carried on with Pete, until we reached a point in the level were the height reduced. Do we carry on, Pete was saying the air was not great, was that fact or imagination. We still could go on for another 10 minutes, before we had to turn back - but decided to turn back then - jitters causing more jitters. On the way back we got the smell of rotten eggs again, and concluded that our sense of smell had not been numbed it was just because the gas only occurred in certain sections, rather than all along the level. Anyway next time Pete said he would bring a gas meter from work to be sure.

Back at the shaft bottom we had lunch and then carried out some tidying up, in preparation for our next trip with materials for shoring the debris pile up. Karli made a walk way and bench out of bits of timber he pulled out of the debris pile. At one point he managed to uncover a dead rabbit - glad we had had our lunch, as the smell was lovely. Then it was time to leave, ah the joy of getting back up. I wasn't looking forward to it, not having done any serious SRT for a while. 60m up, as usual Karli did it rather quickly, well under 10 minutes, Pete took 15 and I took 20 - better than I had expected. By the way Karli, I don't things its funny to get a face full of leaves, grass and water on the way up - hummm?