Goodluck Mine - Xmas Dinner Trip #1 - Phil Wolstenholme
A large party of 12 assembled in the frosty layby at the base of the slope at 11am, with only a few puffs of smoke from the coe up the hill showing our destination. Most of us (possibly all of us) hadn't been before, so for once, we were all newbies. Even more so when we got to the coe, and were informed that we all needed to pay a fiver each. Needless to say, we hadn't been informed of this small detail when we booked it, and most of us don't take our wallets or purses underground, so we had a small standoff where we essentially promised to pay later. That over with, we set off, with Richard our guide. The mine is a fairly standard Via Gellia mine, and my over-exposure to those probably meant I wasn't filled with excitement at seeing more 'passages to nowhere' (with the only interesting bits usually backfilled in the roof), but I tried not to grumble too much in case it spoiled everyone's enjoyment. They're always clean and dry, after all. But the rails were superb, there were plenty of artifacts, mineral samples and various wacky chain ladders to admire, and we did get to climb up a few sections of stope that were still open. The main passages run into the hill, with regular crosscuts branching to the sides until a parallel scrin was found, which they then followed again.
Once Richard had ascertained that we actually knew what we were on about, and could cope with heights and drops, he took us to the most interesting part - a natural dig that John Wilmot, Martin Long and Paz Vale are pursuing, which drops down to a much lower level than the main adits, and has an active inlet pouring downwards. A long fixed ladder took us down to an undercut rift, where the inlet water poured down further, but it wasn't really a pushing trip so we just had a quick look and came back up. But nice to see some natural right in the middle of all those 90° bends. After that we did a high climb up an impressive series of fixed ladders and platforms to see the recently-opened escape shaft, though we didn't go right out that way as the lid was locked. But we did see some nice flowstone and a little perched pool en-route.
Once back outside we admired the old dressing-floors and rail terminations, and enjoyed the view from the hillock. Back at the layby we were all able to rustle up the cash to pay the man, and so everyone was happy, and we set off back to Castleton, far too early, to prepare (wait) for the evening meal.