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West Pastures Mine (30/01/11)

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The last time I was in West Pastures mine was around the early 1990's. Having always wanted to visit again, the door had put a stop to it. However, for those that can work out how to get in it is possible, hence our visit. The door is a remarkable bit of engineering, and when passing through it you get a sense of the Great Escape or would that be Incape?

I had in my minds eye of what the mine was like from the trip all those years ago and on entry it was complete different, amazing what happens to memory over time - or is it as you get older? We passed through the outer door and then opened the inner one. Once past this we entered stone lined passage and passed under a steel support for the roof. Past this the stone arching carried on for a short distance and then gave way to solid rock. Here the main way on was straight ahead, but there was also a branch to the left. This took us to a parallel vein where the roof was very unstable; we did not linger here or bother to explore. Back on track in the main passage, we carried on along until we hit some workings on the right hand side. These were very large long excavated cavities that you could climb up into and walk around in. At this point we were very surprised at how big the level had become, or rather how high - it was a quite a size, considering that most people think of West Pastures as a 'small, goes nowhere type of mine'. Heading further in, the horse level came to a fall and was impassable; here the way on was up above in the flats. Climbing up brought us closer to the roof and we could see that it was not the most stable one we had seen. Big cracks everywhere, and lots of holes in it, with wardrobe sized contents of the holes lying on the floor. Going further along and a bit higher we got the chance to inspect more fracture lines and at this point we heard the sound of running water underneath the fallen rocks. Here we entered the more stable looking flat workings.

The flats were an awkward height so you had to walk bent over almost all the time. They were not open, but back filled with weaving passages in them. Every so often you would get a glimpse of the horse level below, which at this time of year was flooded - probably around 1.5m deep in sections. Eventually we came to as far as we could go, unless we wanted a dunking. The flats generally were devoid of any artefacts and the only significant items found were a set of drill steels. However for the mineralogically inclined, there were plenty of pockets and patches of pale green fluorite everywhere and I believe if we had braved the flooded horse level and gone further in we would have also seen purple fluorite in the back end. Lots of sparklies and probably why the door had been put on. One more thing to note, when we got to as far as we could we noticed that the roof and walls of the area were coated in bits of wood and silt, making us think that the water actually got that high? An annoying thing in the flats was that some idiot needed to spray paint white exit markers all over the place!

We returned to the start of the flats, here they were a bit higher and we ended up having lunch on a nice rock shelf - very comfortable as far as underground eating goes. Back out on to the 'boulder plane' and we had the opportunity to look down on to the horse level and the main passage in - it was bloody big. After climbing back down we had a look around in the worked out cavities and then made our way out. Not too far from the first junction, it was possible to climb up into to more flats from the horse level. These were similar to the ones we had been to, but not as long. Nothing of great interest was found. Back down and out through the great door.

UPDATE 13/06/11 - Some idiot decided to put their own lock on the outer door. This has prompted another idiot now to wreck both outer and inner doors - so access now is a free for all.