I cudder gone to Dent with Mr Banfield and his party and walked to Ingleton in the rain, but , No – Brian had already booked me for this little trundle down yet another North Pennine leadmine.
Never go into a leadmine, folks, they is terrible dangerous.
But the sand-filled Knipemobile was parked in a puddle somewhere near Garrigill and we debouched to this little mine entrance which may well be Whitesike Mine or , possibly, Bentyfield – I’m not sure which.
Brian at the mine entrance
It was clear from the mucky water emanating from the hole and the open gate at the entrance that somebody was already inside. So we plunged forth down stone-arched passageways and, occasionally parts where there was just rough-hewn natural rock.
We crawled through a dig, held up by timber shoring and a bit of pipe and thence forward till the smell of fag smoke and the low rumble of voices could be heard.
Brian emerges from the crawl
We came across two diggers with shovels and a wheelbarrow – digging out the passage to make it bigger. Brian and one of the diggers smoked. The passage filled with bad air. (Don’t tell me smoking is dangerous 800 metres inside a collapsable lead mine)
Digger obscured by fag smoke (smoking is bad for you, children)
After a chat , we left and examined the various remarkable iron and flowstone-like formations.
Formation of iron stuff plus glove for scale
Brian pretends to look at some calcite formations
The sweet course was a short trip through a long culvert where the water was too deep for wellies and which came out in an ennormous hole with a waterfall and another culvert. We retraced and repaired to Nenthead for coffee.
Entering the culvert
The lower culvert
Whatever you do, don’t try this at home, folks, unless your life is an empty vessel like wot mine could be without an Eel Crag challinge…
The thing that strikes me about underground trips is that when you eventually emerge, blinking into daylight, no matter how driech it is, there's a warmth and overwhelming scent of pollen or grass or something, and there's the general hum of life and nature doing whatever it is that life and nature and stuff does.. Whatever it is, its a very friendly and warm and welcoming experience. I suppose its just life getting on with being life. Its great. Its fab. Its green and blue and sometimes a bit grey. Its the Pennines.
Incidentally, I appear to have gained Brian's wellies and, it seems, he must have mine.