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Trip to Belgrave Mine (Lower Level) -- 10th April 2005

Group: Dennis, Paul, Dave

We parked up at the side of the road (SJ 196594) near start of the public footpath. There is really only space for one car at this point. After changing into caving gear we climbed over the stile and followed the public footpath uphill for a few hundred yards. There is a prominent stone block at the side of the path near a clump of trees and a detour to the left followed by a little more ascent leads to a shallow depression with the lower adit visible.

There is an upper adit a little further uphill, again this is located in a shallow depression. Both adits lead into the main stope and onto ledges which traverse the stope. It is possible to abseil from the upper adit towards the lower one, but the continuation is not easy as in-washed material has choked the passage at the bottom of the abseil pitch and the passage is very tight [see photo below]. Once through this you have to cross various deep holes in the floor using rotten bits of timber/railway line followed by a fairly hairy free climb up friable rock to gain the lower adit level. The latter part of the above trip can be seen from the photos in the current one.

Once inside the lower adit, which Dennis had thoughtfully cleared out on a previous visit, we slid past the gate and entered the main passage. There is a water pipe which runs horizontally across the stope to a dam - this still feeds one of the farms further down the hillside and should not be disturbed. It looks pretty precarious now and shows signs of leakage. A little way along the ledge is a 8mm anchor which can be rigged to drop the 15-20' down to another level section.

This lower level has a grubby hole which drops to the bottom of the stope. We rigged a safety line from a nearby natural anchor and then ran the rope to another 8mm anchor and chucked it down the hole. Although Dennis provided a 40m rope, he wasn't particularly confident it reached the bottom of the stope as this was out of view. Dave was sent down first to investigate. The stope runs down at an angle of 15-20 degrees and there were various level sections which the rope stopped on and had to be kicked off. In the end there was plenty of rope and Dave landed at the bottom of the pitch with about 5m to spare. The rope run was not ideal (especially for the prussik back up) and so Dennis used his bolting kit to add a rebelay at the top of the first pitch which gave a better rope run. One this was been done, He and Paul abseiled down to join Dave in the bottom level.

The bottom level almost certainly connected to an old adit at the roadside not far away from the parking space, however this is now blocked. The level continues into the hill and after a short distance the floor is submerged to a depth of 4". Further on the roof drops and it is necessary to half crawl in a few inches of water for about 20', the passage then expands vertically and eventually the water depth decreases. There is probably another level below which acts as a sink and drains any water coming into the mine from above.

Further on the passage gradually ascends and the water is lost. There were a few quartz crystals in the native rock and a little way beyond the remains of a ore truck. The sides have been lost to the ravages of time, but the bogey remains. There is also the remains of a chain hoist which was used to load the wagons and the roof has a hole to the upper levels of the stope where ore was sent down.

The passage ends in a roof fall and it is necessary to return by reversing the route. The pitch was partly climbed and partly prussiked. It would almost be free climbable apart from the rather loose rock and the exposure at the top of the pitch. Beware of knocking loose stones onto other members of the party when ascending the pitch!

After changing out of caving gear we walked to the site of the original drainage adit. There is currently a dig by some of the Grosvenor Caving Club to try and gain access to this and which would, in theory, allow exploration of the very lowest levels. The main problem is the adit is below ground level and so floods till pumped out.

An entertaining trip, about 3 Hours in total