Depth through thought

OUCC News 12th June 2013

Volume 23, Number 6

DTT Main Index

OUCC Home Page

Editor: Andrew Morgan

West Mine - Alderley Edge Copper Mine. 14th April 2013.

Thomas Leung

With Geoff O'Dell, Bradley L. Garrett (OUMC), Marc Explo (WSG)

Alderley Edge Copper mines includes several mines - West Mine, Wood Mine, Engine Mine Cobalt Mine, etc. The West Mine is an isolated mine which is not connected to the rest of the system, and the biggest of all. Different from a typical cave, instead of white, there are blue or green formations, due to the copper (and some other elements) around the area.

In the morning, I was picked up by Brad and Marc and drove to the Toby Inn to meet up with Geoff. After having my second breakfast, we all joined Geoff in his car and drove to Alderley Edge. We stopped at the Derbyshire Caving Club's mining museum to collect the key. After a brief introduction, we got changed in the car park, and walked to the mine entrance. It took about 25 minutes from the museum to the entrance which was covered by a metal plate with two screws. When we got to the mine entrance, just before we were ready, we recognised that we had the key for the padlock, but no spanner to take out the screws. So, while Geoff went back to get the spanner, three of us tried different strategies to release the hexagonal screws, which included using two krabs with a sling, bare hands, kicked it using our feet, etc. Obviously, it didn't work. We gave up after 10 minutes and started talking about "if you have a chance to travel to the past and talk to yourself, will you tell him to do the same job you are currently doing at the moment". After three of us went for a pee in a row, Geoff came back with a spanner; it had been 45 minutes or so. We opened the metal cover and started our mine trip.

It was a 2 metre ladder climb at the entrance and a bit of walking until you climbed down another ladder. There was a wall on the left full of green formations, while we turned right and went down more ladders to the main chamber. We found out the survey was not helpful at some points, as the passages intercepted each other in different levels. We knew that we need to go downhill and would eventually end up in another chamber, so what we did was follow our nose. We went aimlessly and came across a pool full of green minerals. We also found two newspapers dated back to 1959. We eventually came across a chamber with purple coloured rocks (due to manganese ions). We climbed a ladder with a chain and headed towards Planks Shaft with a metal bridge. Then we passed the Chain Shaft with a chain for traversing which connected to the three different mining beds, and Lion Chamber with a rock that looked like a sleeping lion. We walked around by zigzagging between the three different beds. We started at the bottom and climbed up a slope at the end and went backwards along the middle bed. At the end of the upper bed, there was a shaft connected to the three beds.

We decided to take a different route on the way back. We headed down slope to the flooded level of the mine via the tube at the end of the upper bed. The tunnel branched soon. While Marc tried to crawl along one of them, I checked out the relatively big one which I could simply walk along, and eventually came out at the bottom of the blocked air shaft. We decided to take the route I had been through and eventually back to Lion Chamber. We climbed to the upper level of Lion Chamber and down the Chain Shaft. After crossing the bridge at Planks Shaft, we got a bit lost in the big chamber. We ended up at the old entrance with a brick wall. Geoff climbed the ladder and only discovered that the entrance was blocked. Surprisingly, we found some old glass bottles lying along a mud bank, with some old mining tools, while we explored every possible passage. After 15 minutes or so, we spotted something familiar and eventually found our way out. It was an enjoyable trip with something different. Looking forward to do the through trip of the other mines at some point.