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Trip to Ding Dong Mine -- 16th June 2007

Group: Dave, Paul, Mary, NAMHO 2007 leaders & delegates

This was one of several field trips organised for NAMHO 2007 and led by members of the Plymouth & Devon Caving/Mining Clubs. In particular Hugh & Tricia Browning provided a lot of interesting information on the mine and made the trip very enjoyable. The trip was organised as an exchange with the party being split in two so that two shafts, Dyers and Thomas' could be utilised to avoid long waits for the ropes.

We gathered at the side of the road not far from the track leading to the shaft and changed into oversuits and donned SRT gear. The weather was warm and humid.

After a short walk the party arrived at the first shaft and split in two. Hugh, our leader, abseiled down first followed by another delegate and then Paul, Mary, Dave and Chris the other leader. The abseil involved passing quite a few deviations and the passage was a bit tight in places with a pack on the back.

The passage had quite a few formations and passed over some winzes protected by traverse lines. In places there was still some sound timberwork and Mary squeezed behind a ladder to look at the further reaches of the passage which are now blocked by a collapse.

After a buttie stop where we met the other half of the group coming from the alternate shaft, we started the next abseil down pitch, again there where quite a few deviations to pass and the passage was quite narrow in places.

The lower passage was full of fantastic formations made of ochre and god knows what other materials. The colours were fantastic and several columns has peculiar bends which seemed to defy the laws of physics.

A little further along the passage was a rift which required a lot of concentration (and long legs) if you were to avoid damaging some of the formations. Just after this was another grotto of superb formations.

A few yards further on the passage angled upwards and the rope up the other shaft was visible. Prussiking up about 25 feet revealed a side passage containing a small barrow and old spade. This passage used to connect to the passage traversed earlier untill the blockage.

Near the top of the shaft was a collection of stalactites which were stained green from the copper ore.

From the top of the internal shaft a horizontal passage lead to the surface. This was waist deep in water, but since we were on our way out it didn't really matter. A tedious climb though some woods led to a track and back to the cars.

Trip time about 5.5 hours