Friday, 2 March 2012

A Fair Day for Catherine and Jane

We've had a quiet winter. I've been sidelined with an injury, and have only lately been able to take some easy walks. As most of our favourite slate mines are generally at the top of ferocious climbs or at the end of long and winding trails, the winter has been rather low on adventure. So, it was with a great deal of excitement that we rolled out for a local mine today.

I wrote a post about Catherine and Jane here almost a year ago, and  you can find the history of the place there. It's in a beautiful area of woodland with public rights of way running through it and is a fairly well-known site.  Ruins are dotted here and there throughout the woods, as are many trials, shafts and adits. There are three old waterwheel pits, a processing area and several ruined structures, including the pathetic remains of the cornish engine house, standing atop a filled-in shaft.

The ruined engine house
Inside one of the parallel adits
 The lowest adit that we have found drains the mine and was choked up to the roof with acidic mine discharge when we last looked. There are another two adits, curiously parallel ones, one a trial and the other a drive to a shaft. This is the left hand one as you go uphill past the old smithy. It's flooded to just below critical welly depth, although dries out further in. The shaft is a deep one, linking with the lower level drainage adit. A bolt on the forebreast showed that this is a common point to SRT down, but that wasn't on the agenda today.

If you go down to the woods today...
Our objective this time was a small adit below the engine house in the woods. Petra found it last year, although I don't know how, as it was almost completely hidden by vegetation. Originally it had been a trial level cut for iron ore. According to local belief,  by an old man and a boy, using a donkey to move the spoil- of which there is very little. The reason for that was to become apparent later. We entered into deep water at the mouth of the adit, becoming gradually shallower after about fifty yards. It was obvious that the ore was rich in the tunnel, but very sulphurous. There were also traces of manganese on the walls and some nice gypsum crystals which I completely  failed to photograph properly.

Inside the lower adit. Plenty of iron and sulphur in evidence
 We came to a place where a crosscut went away at either side, but we soon realised that the area was stoped out to a considerable height above. It appeared to intercept another working, as a hole had been opened out on the face of the stoping, leading into what looked like an adit. It was, however, twenty feet up, with no means of reaching the opening. The stoping was narrow, pretty much what you would expect from the efforts of a solitary miner and his assistant.

one of the tunnels, stacked with deads

The tunnel went on, forking. Both forks were full, almost to the roof, with deads. So that's why there was little spoil outside! The left hand fork was navigable by crawling for a little way; my torch showed that the tunnel carried on a good while, but it was extremely claustrophobic and neither of us fancied the expedition. No matter, we had shed light on another of the adits at Catherine and Jane...of course, these aren't the only entries into the mine, but all the others require SRT and are very hazardous.

We sat outside, ate our sandwiches and listened to the birdsong. I began to think about our next expedition, a little farther afield, perhaps, next time...

an old trolley near the mine


Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Iain! Good to see out and about again. Those are some fabulous colours you have captured from within the adits. The top shot of the wave clouds is also very interesting.

Carry on that man!

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Graham. It's good to be back, out and about again! I thought you'd like the cloud pic :-)

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