Raven Mine, Monyash - Alan Brentnall
Good turn-out last night with ten of us all bound for Raven Mine. We took the usual wrong turn on the way there (my fault) but found it eventually.
Judging from the amount of vegetation I had to remove from the lid, this mine hasn't been descended for a year or so. None the less, it was a very interesting trip, and those who had never visited Raven were impressed by its potential.
The entrance shafts are all laddered with a mixture of old BR signal box ladders and wooden house ladders. Give or take the odd missing rung, these are all in remarkably good condition, but it is still wise to descend by abseil, and re-ascend using self-lining techniques. There are three stages on the way down, the second of which has a fine winch which has obviously been installed by one of the many diggers who came to try and unlock the natural secrets of this place.
At the very bottom of the shafts is a short, tricky crawl which opens out onto the top of a deep internal engine shaft. This could be dry, as it was last night, or water-filled, but, either way, care is needed as you exit from the crawl and turn left into the natural passages. And this is where the story really begins - the passages lead upwards through various crawls, climbs and ladderways to some well decorated and very big, draughting, fossil, phreatic passages which end in a muddy dig. Not dissimilar to the situation at Water Icicle (not far away), it is very surprising that digging hasn't continued here, for it would surely be rewarded with some great cave. A good project for somebody?
With such a big party, retreat from the mine took some time and it was almost chucking-out time when the last of us surfaced into the freezing night. Super trip though.