It was one of those days, not really knowing what to do, the night
before we had planned on going to Jug Vein in Brownley Hill, then it was
Wellgill Shaft, and then it was second thoughts... Karli suggested Tynebottom
Mine, can we also go into Whitesike? Yes. At last, something new for me. We set
of over Fiddlers in Karli's newly rebuilt 3.9l petrol V8 pickup Landy. The roar
of the engine with the slightest tickle of the accelerator turned heads in
Nenthead as we drove by (a proper red neck mobile). Coming up to the Whitesike
site, we parked up near the gate and got changed.
Being a hot day it was
nice to get into the adit and have instant fridge like cooling. The first
section of the level was stone arched and after 50m or so we entered shaley
rock. Along the arched section there was a small fall that had been shored and
opened up. Towards the end of the arching we spotted an area of formations
growing out of the roof, they consisted of short stalactites interlaced with
calcified straws. About 200m in we came to area where the floor of the level
was actually cobbled in a few places, something none of us have seen in the
area before. A further 75m or so brought us to a large sump on the right hand
side. It seemed quite deep and had water at the bottom. This, we think was the
Borehole Sump into the Shieldhill Low Level and the Nattrass Gill Hazel.
Proceeding forward the next feature we came to was a crosscut on the right, by
the side of it there was a lot of graffiti etched into the shale wall and at
the end of the crosscut there was a stone lined chamber that had been dug out.
This was Spark's Sump. The roof above was also nicely decorated in stalactites.
Past the crosscut we came to the second dig - the oil drum. Passing through
this we then came to the first junction, which was with the Dodberry Vein on
the left hand side. The level along the Dodberry Vein was only short and we
soon came to the forehead. Along the short level there were some really nice
iron stained calcite formations on the walls. Returning back to the junction,
we carried on and passed William Thomason's Sump (flooded) noticing the
crosscut across it to the Dodberry Vein. Another 50m brought us to the horse
trough and then past this we came to a back filled crosscut on the right - this
was Thortergill Syke North Vein. A little way further and we came to a second
junction, this was where the level splits and joins the Browngill Vein on the
right and left carries along the Thortergill Cross Vein. A quick look up the
right hand side found the level to be run in at around 30m or so.
the left hand side the level curved to the east and we soon arrived at the
digging area. The dig has been going on for a number of years now and to ease
with the removal of the waste material it has been partially backfilled leaving
it low, but not too low - it still has a good crawling space. Under the back
fill, a drainage leat has been installed underneath it. A really neat thing
which the diggers have done is that along the back filled section they have
actually made little sumps to the drainage leat so that it can be maintained
and kept free of any blockages. There are probably three of them over the span
of the back fill. Once over the back fill we dropped back in the horse level
and came to the forehead of the current dig site. The dig looked like it had
been open, but now has run in. Turning back from the dig, we noticed the high
water mark on some arching - the whole level had been flooded in the past.
Retracing our route in, we ended up having lunch at the cobbled area and then
it was straight out.