30th April - 4th May 2009 - Paul Stubbs - NY787428
Well off we went again into the wild and wet countryside of the Cumbrian mountains, the weather was fine for the first couple of days, then we hit a very wet and windy period that flattened my caravan awning a treat!
The group consisted of Dennis, Edward, Heather, Pernilla, John Capper, John Smith (helped out at open weekend and wishes to join) Paul Stubbs (chief cook and bottle washer) plus a young lady called Joanne (alias Smurf)
The first day was as per normal a trip into Smallcleugh, and as we had been in late last year it was evident that a lot of places in the mine are now starting to collapse.
Without doubt the faces on the people who had never been before was a picture, they could not believe the amount of shiny ore that lay strewn about the mines and of course the usual I will take this bit and OOH! no I think I will take that bit carried on all the way round the mine. After a long tour of about 6 hours we came out to a nice sunny afternoon all well and truly ready for tea, we ventured out for a beer later on and came back to a drinking session that lasted into the early hours.
We found out that day why smurfs are always painted blue, as Joanne never stopped going on about how cold it was! and even in her sleeping bag at night. The second day we went into Brownley hills which has suffered more than the other mines from collapses and it is not going to be long before the place becomes a lost cause, the Canadian level is now a complete loss due to a large collapse just near the entrance. That night was a very musical evening as we downed large volumes of beer and hotpot, the music left a somewhat funny smell in the caravan and I am at this moment in time still trying to get rid of it!
The next day we went into Rampgill of course to see the famous Brewery Shaft and also to see the stone stairs that are built in the wall quite a way in the mine; after a fruitful search we found what appeared to be the shaft to the Horse Gin which had always eluded us in the past. Edward rigged the shaft for his decent aided by a pole placed across the top of the shaft and belayed around me as no other suitable anchor point could be found.
After he had got off the rope and gone in search of the Horse Gin, we thought it would be fun to turn off the lights and pull up the rope, as we did this we commented that he would wonder where the rope had gone ' no I won't', said a voice behind us .
Turning round we saw Ed had found a way round the passages and appeared back up the stairs behind us!, we then went on a mission of looking around all the passages we could see and after a tight crawl through some bars and bits of wood BINGO!, we found it at last.
We thought that night we should have a curry and more beer (bad idea) I think the smell has actually penetrated the very fabric of the caravan! On the last day we went to Alston on the narrow gauge railway and all sorts of fun with a flat tyre, you should always carry the locking wheel nut key, it does help when things go flat!