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COMRU Through Trip, Greenside Mine, (18/10/09).

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Arriving at the YHA buildings we kitted up and made the long trek up the fell side following the course of the old mining remains until we reached the site of the Old Mill. From the mill we went cross country and descended the Glencoynedale valley to finally reach the Glencoyne Level. Thank god for the cloudy cold weather, as the trek would have been a bit on the hot side otherwise, outside the entrance we had a break and lunch.

Entering the level we hit water straight away and it was bloody cold! After a short period a crossroads was reached and we took the left crosscut, which brought us to the first pitch, a short 10m ladder drop. The level at the bottom of the pitch was the High Horse Level. Here we made our way along towards the deep connecting shaft to the Low Horse Level. At the top of the shaft there was a valve and a large diameter pipe which headed down the shaft. The High Horse Level at one point had been flooded with the aid of a series of dams and the valve was used to direct water to the hydraulic engine at Willie Shaft. The way down this shaft was on ladders with a safety line, whilst climbing down, it seemed to go on forever - a kind of mine explorers purgatory. By the time the bottom was reached, your arms knew about it, especially since the last section was on chain ladders. The distance climbed down was 70m.

Once on the Low Horse Level our route took us to the escape shaft that was driven in the early 1950's, which also provided access to the massive Alma Stope. We dropped a total of 80m before landing in a major wagon way in the Alma Stope. Here many artifacts could be seen, including kibbles, spades, tools, a very nice metal ore truck and many more items. The end of the wagon way also provided a good view out into the Alma Stope, though non of our lights could penetrate the darkness before us - we could tell it was big. From the Alma Stope our last part of decent started and soon we were standing next to the infamous very large boulder, that was chocked across the stope walls. Just in case it decided to ever move, a section of girder has been installed above it and the boulder is strapped and wired up to it as a safety precaution. I cannot really imagine the very idea of getting a girder to that point in the mine and then fixing it to the walls! For the final pitch we had to install a pull through rope and finally we arrived on the Lucy Tongue Level, the last 70m. A total of around 230m of ladders and abseiling.

Our exit was on the Lucy Tongue Level, however we had around 1.6km to go before reaching the hobbit hole portal. Along the way we looked at various features including the chamber for Smiths Shaft and associated artifacts, and then it was pretty much out along the crosscut to the portal. We passed through and were amazed at the sections of the level which had been dug through by CATMHS and MOLES - the amount of work put in, along with the materials was phenomenal.