[wcg logo]

Home Page

Back to Mine Index

Content and images
© WCG 2003-2015

Click images to enlarge
Last Changed: 26/1/2015

E-mail webmaster

Powered by Apache

Site driven by NetBSD

Trip to Coniston Copper Mine -- 30th Oct 2009

Group: Ian, Paul, Dave

We set off early by using the ruse of not altering the clocks on the night of the BST/GMT change and so landed in Coniston around about 11 o'clock. The drive up to the Coppermines youth hostel was on a very potholed track and we abandoned the car about 2/3 of the way up to save the suspension. Changing at the side of the track in a gale was interesting! We headed up to Levers water, passing hospital Level and a few other unidentified holes.

A bit of searching found the upper access to the stopes and Ian had a quick look in the LHS one and decided it didn't look right. The next stope didn't look inviting and a bit further to the right was a gated level. A rope was anchored to the timbering of the aforementioned level and Dave dropped down into the stope to search around. It didn't look promising with vertical stopes and loose unstable ground and after Paul and Ian had also inspected it we climbed back out. While Dave was inspecting the rope for abrasion Ian had another more thorough look in the LHS hole and announced it had ladders and a lifeline. We dragged the gear over to it and descended.

Once down the two fixed ladders the passage dropped down a slope and there was a junction. Ahead was a set of stemples spanning the stope complete with a rope traverse line. The stemples looked OK and so we headed across after clipping cowstails into the lines. Its a bit awkward and you wouldn't want to slip...

Another junction was reached and there were several ways on. Upwards there were a set of stemples and a safety line. Climbing up this led to a passage with a rather decayed ladder going to an upper level and further on a hole in the floor complete with some stemples and a rather decrepit looking plank. The whole arrangement looked very flimsy and since there were no traverse lines we declined to cross it. There were quite a lot of stacked deads on some of the stemples we passed under, but everything looked OK and we avoided touching anything!
There was a lot of copper staining on the walls and floor in this region. Heading back down the stemples to the junction, another passage ended in a flooded winze with the remains of a windless. Again the area was pretty decayed and not explored further.

We headed back cross the stemple highway and under some stacked deads. A bit further on was the start of the pitches down the stope and there was a rope already rigged from some bombproof looking hangers. The rope was attached with karabineers, but was then curiously looped over the top of the anchors. It looked OKish, but we decided that it would be better to use our ropes. Since one of these was looking a bit battered from the surface foray and we needed both to get to the middle level we decided to retreat and have a look in the hospital level and come back to this descent another day.

We headed back down the track and cut across to the hospital level. A low entrance became a walking size passage after a few feet and we headed along to a junction. Turning right passed a large pile of old telegraph poles and other timber, presumably for 'remedial works'. The passage carried on for quite a way with water just under wellie depth until is ended abruptly at a rock face. Retracing our steps we headed back to the junction and took the other passage. This has a couple holes to deep stopes in the floor, but fortunately there were planks and traverse lines to keep us safe. Hospital shaft was passed on the right and then a large chamber was entered ('Great Open'). we had a look at a passage entering acutely on the left which we thought was Grey Crag level. Unfortunately it had water above wellie depth and so we didn't get far before retreating. After a few more forays along other passages we headed back to the surface and managed to get back to the car and changed before the heavens opened.

Total trip time about 4 hours.