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Trip to Bwlch y Plwm Lead Mine -- 16th/23rd Feb 2013

Group: (1) Dave, Paul, Mary, Ian

Group: (2) Dave, Dennis, Albert, Graham, Roger

With the weather in 2013 looking like its repeating 2012 in terms of water levels a mine was chosen for the first new trip of the year and Bwlch y Plwm fitted the bill perfectly as it is a through trip with a bit of SRT thrown it. Not everyone could make the first date so a repeat trip was organised a week later.

Both trips started with dull misty weather, but it wasn't too breezy and getting changed at the side of the minor road wasn't too onerous. After a quick look at the foundations of the nearby mill we follwed a path up the hill, passing adits for each of the levels.

The level 3 adit was flooded, on the first trip there was a small stream flowing into it which wasn't present on the second trip. Level 4 seemed to be collapsed and also wet. We reached level 5 adit a bit higher up, just above a spoil heap.

Dave rigged the first pitch from the in-situ anchors and everyone crossed the rather slippery pair of tree trucks which span the pitch and allow access to level 5. This mined passage carried on for about 150' before reaching a dead end. Everyone returned and abseiled down the short (8m) pitch which led to the top of a sloping stope and a bit of passage on the right which was blind after a short distance. There were anchors on the hanging wall, but the stope angle was quite gentle and a easy 10m free climb down led to the level 4 passage with a traverse line in-situ. There was a flooded hole at one side of the passage, the floor had 8" deep water. Heading left led to a collapse while following the traverse lines right led to the top of another stope complete with in-situ anchors. Carrying on along the passage led to deeper water (over welly depth) and a dead-end after a few hundred feet. On the first trip there was a bat hanging at the side of the passage.

Dave rigged the pitch with a 38m rope and everyone abseiled down the easy slope to land on level 3.

Heading right (facing the hanging wall) the passage came to a dead-end, but heading left a flooded shaft was passed and then a short blind cross cut before the passage led into stoping with in-situ traverse line and rope down to lower levels.

The traverse line and anchors were in good condition and everyone made it across without too much of a struggle. There was a short passage with safety line and then a short wooden bridge over more stoping to lower levels.

Once over the bridge the passage split, ahead it curved around and sloped up to a collapse, while to the right it carried on passing two side passages on the right and then curving around to the left and deep water. This is probably the way to adit 3 and maybe in a drought it would be possible to exit here.

The two side passages were marked as bat sanctuaries on the mine plan, but a careful check with just a pilot light showed no residents and the passages just end after a few hundred feet.

After backtracking across the traverse line, the party descended the fixed rope and then some more traverse lines to end up on level 1 (deep level adit), passing a flooded winze and getting to a chamber with rock pillar.

There were several passages leading off in different directions, a solitary bat hanging to one side and on a rock slab was a geocache 'Rocky World'. After looking inside and adding an entry to the log we headed off to explore each of the passages. A couple had the remains of rail tracks still present and there was a bit of copper staining on the walls and a little trace of galena. Some passages had iron or calcite stals, but there wasn't a lot to see and after we had trekked everywhere, we headed out along the deep adit. This had water above welly depth near the entrance.

After climbing up to the road a few of the party had a look in the Roman Level which involves a crawl over a dodgy iron ladder covering a shaft, but there is not much worth seeing.

Dave and Ian/Albert headed back up to de-rig the ropes and then joined the others at the car. Some of Dennis's ex wives ambled across the field to gawk at us before we drove away after an excellent trip..

Total trip time about 3.5 hours