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Saturday, 24 October 2009

More South Tynedale Holes

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 in mine entrance

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 crawl

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 in fag smoke

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.

iron formation

Formation of iron stuff plus glove for scale

more formations

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.

culvert entrance

Entering the culvert

lower 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.


Pennine Ranger said...

That looks like it was a fun little trip. And you're spot on about the smells as you come back to the surface. I always think that's the best bit of caving - the green smell on the way out.

mike knipe said...

Going into a hole just to experience coming out again seems illogical at first sniff... but it is once of the best bits...

Chris Norton said...

This looks like an interesting and smelly excursion.

I covered your blog in my favourites a while ago now:

Do you have an email address as I have something which I think will be of interest to you?

mike knipe said...

Hello Chris - my email address is

We're talking about the smell of life, the world and everything here - something thats always there but not noticed till you come out of a hole. Just fag smoke underground....