Friday 14th October. 

Graham Brooks, Peter Jackson, Steve Bentley and John Hine welcomed the Carlisle U3A Geology group. The plan was to start with a mine trip, leave the equipment at the mine exit, and then have a surface walk with Graham leading on the history.  Windy rain had been specially laid on for the visitors. The mine trip was successful except that we had two main bulb failures. Despite the rain, the water flow into the mine was very small.  Exiting the mine, the group found itself in a heavy rain shower.  Some members went straight back to The Barracks and others braved the walk to Smallcleugh. Liz Bentley joined us to learn about the surface walk.      We were quickly back down the hill. (Still raining…)

This email from Colin Agnew sums up the day:

The Group “found the whole thing very interesting and have commented that they’ll be back with relatives and friends BUT in the spring and Summer. They were quite amazed at the work that you have done up there and some of the comments you made about Zinc pollution have been picked up by joint members of the Environment Group who now want to go to Force Crag to see whats going on there!
On behalf of the group I’d like to pass on their thanks to you and to the volunteers who helped throughout the afternoon.”

Archiving Phase III documents and Wet from above and below- minus one shovel

Wednesday 12th October INDOORS

The archiving team has started work on the Phase III documents from 1997 onwards, listing all the site SMCs and opening the photo files.  The Bunkhouse was cleaned for a forthcoming weekend booking.


Nenthead autumn has arrived – mist,raining and cold. So naturally we chose to go and stand in the river.  Before we started work, tools and concrete had to be transported in Alec’s Range Rover to the track above the waterfall, and lowered down to the river in  two stages. Peter managed to drop three buckets and one was written off.

In the river, we were glad to see that last week’s work had survived and the water flow was 12 inches below the old intake pipe.. The leaking wall was packed with hessian bags filled with postcrete and an occasional shovel of river gravel. Our technique was improved by soaking the hessian bags in the river before they were filled with the dry mix. We had about ten minutes to insert and tamp each bag before the concrete started to go off – this required that the team knelt, crouched and almost laid in the river water – and it was raining. Lunch break came early today.  All our tools were left on site.

The afternoon shift was marred by the loss of a shovel during our lunch break- did it go down the river, or was it stolen? Very sadly, we decided that it was probably stolen. Clearing up the site, we installed rock armour at the base of the retaining wall.

Back at The barracks, we moved the remaining rubbish into a skip and  freed up more space on the ground floor.



Sometime back in the summer we had added track relaying at Carrs Level to our programme. The gauge had widened at the level entrance and wagons dropped between the rails. After half an hour of digging along one rail, we located the spikes and rotting sleepers. New wood packing pieces were cut and placed between the rail and the level side wall, the rails were re spiked, gauge checked, ballast replaced and we were done!

A test run with the wagon showed that we had been successful.  The wagons can now be safely stored in the mine. It was now time for an early lunch and so back to The Barracks to hear about the morning’s archiving work.

After lunch, the foreman had suggested clearing the gutter in Carrs Level but the team decided to have a look at the water flow in the river to try and find the source of a possible water leakage. We had previously noted an occasional rise in the water level following heavy rain, which as always been a problem for the mine, but this rise seemed to happen faster and often included silt washing through the dam valve.

Down in the river, by the waterfall plunge pool, we dug out the river bed and cleared a large quantity of rock and silt. This work lowered the water level in the river by more than 12 inches and enabled us to see the base of the retaining wall on the east side of the river. We could see some gaps in the structure which would need leak proofing.  A short visit back to the dam in the mine revealed a much reduced water flow, so we had already made progress.