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Trip to North Henblas Shaft -- 18th April 2010

Group: Roger, Dave (WCG); Doug, Martin, Mick, Mike, Ian etc. (UCET); Matt, Cat_Bones, Edus1 etc. (ME)

This trip was arranged for the Mine Explorer group by MartyMarty and members of UCET who manage access.
A motley collection of explorers gathered at the Glan Yr Afon pub cark park and wandered up the road to the field containing the shaft. A stooping entrance led to a gallery above the platform at the top of the shaft which gave a good view of the proceedings. Quite a few wimps^H^H^H^H^Hpeople opted to use the winch for the 300' descent rather than SRT and Martin organised the 'chair' for the first victims while Mick/Mike operated the winch.

Needless to say the WCG stalwarts opted to abseil down rather than use the winch. The descent was pretty painless as there were plenty of rebelays to split the long section, but it was a bit wet in places and there was a certain amount of loose material which could easily be dislodged by your feet.... The abseil and winch landed everyone on a slightly dodgy looking platform about 150' above the flooded bottom of the shaft. A side passage provided a safe refuge from any stones dislodged by people further up the shaft and contained an ancient signaling bell.

Once everyone was down the group split into two parties and headed along the passage to explore in different directions. There were a few flowstone formations and quite nice gour pools on the floor in places.

We headed off in the direction of Bagshaw's level west, which started as a roomy passage and then degenerated into muddy crawls with lots of side passages. At the side of one passage was the remains of what looked to be an old kibble, all that remained was the rusty ironwork. Further on there was a less than satisfactory ladder and traces of galena in the ceiling.

we headed back to the shaft and along Roskell's Day level which used to reach the surface, but is blocked by a roof fall. The passage had quite a lot of formations on the roof, walls and floor. Eventually a section with lighting was reached, but there was no electricity :-) There was a gentle water flow and some nice calcite flooring which we had to trample along, some sections showed marks where old rails had lain.

Eventually the dig was reached which required a bit of flat out crawling. The first collapse has been very well shored up with scaffold poles and timber and led to more passage and then another collapse which is the subject of a new dig. After look around we headed back out of the dig and met the other party heading in. After a stop for butties we headed back the way we came and then onward towards Dolphin shaft.

The southern section of Roskell's day level was fairly dry till Dolphin shaft was met and then there was a 2' deep pool. The shaft was easily recognisable by the collection of tin cans and other rubbish presumably dropped down from the surface. After the pool there was a muddy section and then a low crawl under a massive slab which needed to be treated with caution. The passage then enlarged to walking height and after a short while there was a side passage with wooden launders. The passage led to a dead-end. Back at the main passage there were a series of holes in the floor which involved some acrobatics. We did purloin a bit of scaffolding to make crossing one easier, but the final hole was rather deep and there was not much for the feet. Doug crossed and after a short while came back with ochre covered feet having reached the end.

We all headed back to the shaft and most people opted to go back on the winch. Dave prussicked back up along with a couple of others. At the top Mick commented that it seemed to be the old guys who did the exercise, the 'fit' young un's preferred to have an easy life and use the winch...

We changed and headed for the pub for a few jars and a bit of banter. The landlord had kindly provided a plate of pork pies and quiche which was unexpected and extremely welcome.

A excellent trip lasting about 3-4 hours. A big thank you to Martin and UCET for their tireless effort in making this trip possible and as successful as it was.