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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Exploring in Brownley Hill Mine, Nenthead

With: Alan & Clare
Weather: a mild evening for February
Where: Nenthead, North Pennines

Stone Arching in Brownley Hill
Brownley Hill is a mine I've not spent very much time visiting, maybe just a couple of previous trips both of which have ended in exactly the same place with me wondering whether I really ought to be in that place! Each time a sense of self-preservation has clicked in, discretion has been the better part of valour and a swift retreat has ensued.

Last night was an altogether more civilised evening which essentially involved an interesting exploration of one particular section of the mine. We entered through the Bloomsberry Adit at just after six o'clock with the last remnants of daylight still lingering on (thoughts of evening trips into the fells now beginning to beckon again) the weather although damp was mild for the time of year.

The initial drive through shaley ground was longer than I had recalled from previous visits & we spotted a bat take to flight close to the entrance maybe he had noticed the milder air as well? At the sump which was roaring no doubt due to the recent wet weather we had a short ratch around the passage to our right (SE direction?) and straight ahead. However, the aim of the evening was to have a good look around the long passage that ranges from this point in a north westerly direction (i.e. effectively left from the sump)

The going was easy in the main passage throughout the length we explored with just occasional constrictions to crawl over/under or squeeze past, there are precarious looking deads stacked in the roof on occassions!
Blue Pool in Brownley Hill Mine - Photograph by Clare Mackey

In this direction there are numerous vertical rollers - artefacts of a continuous rope system? Not long after the stone arching pictured above is an area which branches in several directions with a rise to the right which we did explore again on this occassion despite having had a good look around previously (it provides access to quite extensive flats workings) in addition are a couple of small pokey passages and also to the right the way on to an excellent blue pool (also photographed above, by Clare) - at the moment I am unable to lay hands on any of my Brownley Hill plans so this post will be edited again with some better "positioning" references from the mine plans. After exploring everything in this area we pressed on down the main North West heading passage, across a sump spanned by some dubious looking boards & another spanned with a rail protected by a traverse line, at each junction & every possibility to explore we deviated from the passage in an attampt to gain as good an understanding of the area as possible. Eventually at another sump crossable via a rail but with the passage seemingly running on & on we turned back. Frustatingly we were running out of time to pursue this passage to its conclusion so to find out where it ends will have to be the subject of another trip, however, it was good to increase our understanding of this area.

Its always interesting to spot all the possible climbs & holes to crawl around on the way back that hadn't been noticed on the way in & once again we found several on this occassion, the most interesting of which was in the area of the rise referred to earlier - a climb up which would be to the LHS on the way in took us into a worked area which had been bolted out with 3 bolts allowing access down to a sub-level, not sure where this goes its one for another night. 

With a slightly improved understanding from this short visit it was back out into an eerie misty Nenthead evening.

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