Some six weeks ago Jim together with friends had discovered some
massive stopes in Brownley Hill, later on he discovered that they where in fact
in the Gudhamgill Mine. From what Jim said, the stopes sounded very impressive
and we have ended up going to have a look at them, Jim coming along and giving
us details of what they had discovered.
To reach the Gudhamgill Mine
Horse Level we headed in through the Brownley Hill Low Level portal, going past
the Engine Shaft and eventually taking the Gudhamgill Burn Cross Vein heading
south south, east. This is the level that you go along when doing the Rampgill
to Brownley through trip. We carried along for some 600m and finally we came to
the Gudhamgill Horse Level branch, by the 'lava' flow coming down from shaft
above. Here we took a left entering Gudhamgill Mine.
I wish I had taken
my surveyors tape to see how far we went along the horse level, to try and find
out which rise we went up and where the collapse is, but that will have to be
done another time. Off the top of my head we must have only gone around 200m or
so before the we climbed up a rise. Once above the horse level, a short
scramble took us to the foot of a iron ladder, another climb and we were in the
stope. It was the mother of all the stopes, the biggest we had seen to date,
Jim had not exagerated the size at all. Carrying on in an north easterly
direction we proceed to explore the stope with Jim informing us of various
things they had discovered. After a short while we came to a large sump that
had to be negotiated by hugging the wall and then by crossing a wooden ladder.
The sump seemed to be a manway on one side and ore shoot on the other, with the
dividing partition made out of deads - something non of us had seen before.
Past the sump we climbed on to a wall that seemed to section the stope, here
there was a large shaft going up and leading down with an fantastic iron
stained calcite flow - with the water flowing down the calcite formation in
ripples it almost looked alive like an alien being. Here the stope had opened
out and we could truly see the scale of the working.
Carrying along we
passed may features, there were many exposed levels in the working which is
indicative of the mines history - first worked by the London Lead Company for
lead, where the stopes were back filled with deads and levels made in them,
with eventually the lease passing to the Vielle Montagne Zinc Company where the
LLC's workings get reworked for zinc, hence the exposed levels in the stope.
All along the stope there where sumps leading down and a few rises as well. Jim
with his friends had explored most of the sumps and they tended to lead to the
flooded horse level below. We eventually reached the far end of the stope where
lunch was had. From initial looking around it did not look like the stope went
on, but there must be a link somewhere as there was an airflow here - we let
off flash powder when taking photographs and that was being drawn in, rather
We retraced our passage through the stope taking photographs.
This gave us a better idea of how big the stope was - a rough estimate makes it
about 400m long, 10-15m high and 5-10m wide. Jim had to leave for a set time so
Mark accompanied him out whilst I stayed behind with Karli to look at the
collapse on the horse level and to go a bit further up along the Gudhamgill
Burn Cross Vein as we had heard that there had been a fall just past the water
hopper. After reaching the old dig and the water hopper we got to the beginning
of the great limestone, Karli did some water management here whilst I went some
150m into the neck deep water. There was a good airflow heading up towards
Rampgill and no sign of any blockage along the way - a relief - it would have
been a shame if this demanding through trip could no longer be done.
Most of the photographs using the flash powder technique have come out blurred,
it was difficult getting a focus over the distances in the stope and we need to
work out how to do this better - probably by using more of our lights in spot
mode to get a brighter focusing point. Some have been included so that a sense
of scale can be portrayed for the stope size.