Mouldridge Mine - Phil Wolstenholme

Tuesday, 10 June, 2014

Present: Alan Brentnall, Martyn Grayson, Irene Healy, Phil Wolstenholme

Alan had arranged a trip for Irene this Saturday requiring no difficult stuff, and selected Mouldridge Mine as the venue - I'd never been before, and neither had Martyn, so we both decided to go along too. It's situated at the head of Gratton Dale, near Pikehall, and is a maze of pipes and infilled vughs connected by thin veins. The mine was worked from the early 18th C until 1954, so understandably has many layered features and workings of vastly varying dates, which can be tricky to resolve. Nevertheless, it's an extremely interesting and fun trip. The mine is on two, or maybe three main 'horizons', although in the loosest sense, as there are very few levels, apart from the couple of main ones which run through the mine. The rest of the workings are the usual random-cavern nature of pipes linked by crawls and small passages, not all horizontal.

One particular fun feature is a body-sized hole in the floor of a small chamber, with a ledge you can sit on, and which drops you a few feet into a large passage. Just out of interest, I decided to try and climb back up the hole - despite minutes of struggling, I gave up - either a foothold or handhold is absent just when you need one, and the constricted space makes it very awkward to get any leverage with your arms. I was very relieved to know there's another way out. Alan couldn't do it either, I should point out, and he's taller than me! Apart from that, most of the trip is technically very easy, but it's not really about difficulty - it's just fascinating to see how the mineralisation and cavernous nature of the rock (and generations of hopeful miners) have conspired to create a three-dimensional maze of great interest with minimal danger - oh, and dry too! Thanks to Alan for taking us.