Hello, my name is Mal Tabb.
Thanks for visiting our web pages. Marion & I operate a small outdoor activity organisation called Canoes, Mountains & Caves. We provide activities for: adults, young people, schools, charities, families & individuals. A key aspect of our work is the provision of a "Community Programme" which is offered free of charge to participants. If you think we might be able to help please don't hesitate to contact us, you can find out more about what we do on our main website www.canoesmountainscaves.com

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Michael's Account of a Day In Smallcleugh Mine, Nenthead

Last Saturday I was up at Nenthead mines near Alston in order to take a group around Smallcleugh. Michael was with us, he writes a blog, and this is what he had to say about his first journey into the underworld:


Going underground? Yeah. Down down to goblin town. No? Ok… Nenthead mines in Cumbria.

Do I have pictures? No. It’s a mine. It was dark and wet in places and my phone was safe a dry in a car. But Miguel took some photos on his GoPro and the instructor Mal Tabb took some photos which are on his facebook group here.

Rocked up in a car park on a very rainy day in Cumbria. It’s a bit of an odd place, it’s pretty(ish) but quite devoid of features which I guess gives it it’s charm. Hey? I’m from the Fens where there is a flat lot of nothing, so a lumpy scenic view always nice.
Mal provided all the gear we needed – heavy duty overalls, a pair of wellies, helmet and head torch. Thank you Mal! I didn’t really know what to expect going mining; I figured I’d wear shorts, old shoes and carry a torch and that would be ok. Error.
We must’ve spent about 3.5 hours down the mine, just wandering around cramped mine passages (cramped! being tall is not best), squeezing through collapsed sections of the mine, wading through trenches of water, and crawling through tunnels. Why? Why indeed. But the incredible thing throughout was that I was in an actual mine that dated back over 300 years ago, and I was walking through history. That is most definitely a worthwhile experience.

There was plenty to see. So much to take in. There’s a ridiculous amount of potential tunnels to explore, well over 50+ miles of passageways to explore! The creation of the mines, carving in the rock and the debris left behind is something to look out for. So are the crystal formations, the mineral deposits, stalagmites and stalactites, old tools, abandoned equipment, cave-ins, potentially lethal sumps (huge holes in the ground), wooden supporting structures, mine rails, stone structures and vast chambers. It really was a superb experience – certainly will be going again to explore more areas and get roped up to get down further into the mine.

My friend Clare (also on the ITP course) is the youngest female certified mining/caving person – I’ll have to ask her what the qualification is. Clare is very enthusiastic about mining and caving and was utterly thrilled to catch up with Mal again to go mining. The reason why I say this is Clare spoke about a few caving things that I now understand (having been mining for a few hours) – being underground is somehow calming, you’re in a different world as the actual outside world disappears. There is no internet, there is no mobile phone signal, there is no daylight, there is no world any more. It’s you, the people you’re with, the equipment you have and the cave/mine that you’re in. That is your new world. It’s wonderful.

So that’s how I spent my Saturday, how did you spend yours?

Thanks for this Michael!!


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