Monday, July 10, 2006
Greetings from Weardale.
The weather remained decidedly cooler through the weekend, and even rained a good bit Saturday evening. The breeze stayed up, however, and the quarry was drying out nicely by yesterday afternoon. This morning dawns bright and sunny, with a few low clouds drifting overhead from the west.
Saturday, Byron and I spent some time up at the Greenlaws middle level hunting for fluorite. The Greenlaws mine, located just above us here at Daddry Shield was a very active lead mine during the mid-19th century, but was never successfully reopened for fluorspar. The flats must have been quite rich with it, however, as the burn that runs through the old middle level dumps is littered with specimens of purple crystals, some quite large, and all pretty well stream-worn. We figured that there might be a chance of finding some less abused pieces in the undisturbed dumps, so set off digging tools at hand. I'm not sure we found anything other than what one might call "souvenir-quality" bits, but the site is quite scenic and made for a nice day out. Today's photo is of Byron rearranging the dump. Rain clouds blew in around 1600 so we headed back to get cleaned up, and off to the Mill Race for dinner.
Sunday morning we stopped by to see local collectors Helen and Barry, who live just down the road from us here in Daddry Shield. Barry is in the process of rebuilding the outside entryway for their house, but seemed all to happy to put the chore off for a bit while having us in for coffee. After a bit of chat, Byron and I made our way down to the mine for a few hours. Cleaning up out finds from the previous day offered no big surprises, but I am holding out hope for one that was incased (and hopefully protected) in a calcite vein. When we left for the afternoon it was happily fizzing away in phosphoric acid.
I spent the better part of the afternoon back in the East Cross Cut getting wet and muddy, in search of a repeat of Friday's success. After several hours of digging, I was able to extract what appears to be the second half of the large fluorite plate I got on Friday. It currently occupies one face of a fairly large rock, but if it trims nicely could be one of the best yet of the season. Unlike the West Cross Cut just across the main tunnel, this zone gives out very few specimens, but when it does, they can be very nice.
On schedule for today will be follow-up calls to the Durham Constabulary concerning our permits, the continued hunt for red diesel, and an attempt to reduce the size of my recently recovered specimens to a more manageable size, courtesy of the chain saw.
A pleasant afternoon in the countryside.