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Tourist Route, Zloty Stok (Golden Mountain Slope) Gold Mine, 11/10/08.

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Whilst going into the mountains in south west Poland with my cousin and his family, I could not pass up the opportunity to visit the Zloty Stok mine, especially since Mike Moore had given me a free copy of a book about it.

The trip was in two parts. Firstly we went into the Gertruda Level, were we given details on the history of the mine, what mining were techniques used, and how the ores of gold and arsenic were separated. The level was lined with bricks and had a concrete slab roof. In places the bare rock could be seen. As we went along the level various displays could be seen, plans of the mine complex, old photographs of miners working, ore trucks and tools. In one place an old ceramic gold smelter, with moulds and crucibles was also on display. In one chamber a mock up of a gold strong room was on display, though I'm not sure such a thing would have existed. Finally we climbed some stairs to enter a higher level. This was all in solid rock and the mine took on a 'proper' feel. A walk along a long passage brought us to the exit adit, which was different to the entrance one.

The second part of the trip after exiting the Gertruda adit was a look at the Black Upper adit. We took a short walk up the hillside following the 'Golden' stream. This took us to a large quarry and the adit. The original entrance was via a shaft, now a newly dug adit took us into the level. Just inside the entrance there was a bat roost, they seemed to favour the environment of the tourist route than the deeper quieter places in the mine. In this level the emphasis was on the structure of the mine. Most of it was in solid rock, timbered sections or in steel arching. Part of the trip took us down a shaft with a steel staircase. Some 23m from the top we entered a small passage that brought us to an underground water fall, a few more metres down and we were at the bottom of the shaft in the Black Lower level. We proceeded along more passage way finally reaching a train. All aboard and a couple of minutes of riding took us out of the Black Lower adit.

As far as show mines go I thought the trip was very good and the parts of the mine shown to us interesting. With such enterprises it is always tricky to get the general public interested and this reflected in how our guide conducted himself. Key information was dished out coupled with lots of jokes and stories to keep the non mine explorers entertained. At one point when he locked the entrance gate to the Black Upper adit, he pulled a gun on us, asking for money to let us out again. Not sure how that would go down in the UK? A refreshing side to the way it was all conducted was that there wasn't an obsession with health and safety, I told the guide I was keen on taking pictures and that I may lag behind, no problem was the response, just don't get lost as I'm not coming to get you out. The tour lasted 1½ hours, far too short for me.

That's not the end of it. The show mine also runs 'Zwiedzanie Ekstremalne', Extreme Visits, two trips 3 hours each, one 1km long and the other 1.5km. You need to bring all your own gear. Another trip is definately in order.