Friday, June 1, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather has finally gotten back to normal for the North Pennines, cool, cloudy, and occasional rain. Yesterday morning around 0730 I met up with the delivery drivers to exchange the wrong dets we had received for the correct ones in a downpour. Filling out all the requisite paperwork in such conditions is a challenge. The rain passed by mid-day giving us a nice lingering sunset in the evening. This morning the cloud cover has moved back in, but so far, no rain.

With the proper dets now in hand, we were able to do our first shot of the season at the face late in the morning. The air blower we installed last summer succeeded in clearing the air at the face well enough that, after taking a lunch break we were able to begin mucking out the debris. The shot came off perfectly, leaving a nice pile of rubble at the foot of the face, and not a single damaged timber. Not an easy trick to pull off but is what comes with having someone with Dave’s experience doing this for us.

The afternoon was spent mucking out the face, and by the time we were done 15 tubs had been hauled out and tipped over the side of the landing. With three people at hand, the process went pretty quickly. I got to drive the loco hauling the tubs in and out of the mine. Dave tells me that this task, known as being a “trammer” was one of the first jobs assigned to young lads hired into the mines around here. After almost 15 years at this, I guess I’ve finally graduated to my first real position. With all the twists and turns in our track, doing this without the occasional derailing is virtually impossible. Ours occurred with a full tub, weighing a considerable amount, at the portal. Dave was able to lever the thing back onto the track with a length of timber in a matter of minutes. I could tell that he has done this before. Today’s photo is of Dave and Ian pushing a load over the side.

By end of day, the face was clean, squared up, and ready for another set of timbers, which will go in today. There are green fluorite seems showing in several spots, and a large pod of massive galena in the center of the face. After we complete another shot forward we are thinking to start another crosscut to the west, toward the fluorite-bearing flats. The roof of the tunnel is looking much more stable than the area we were in last summer, so we will hope for the best.

The upcoming weekend here is a four-day holiday to celebrate the Queen’s 60th anniversary jubilee. Despite all the fun and frivolity likely to accompany such an event, we are hoping to spend much of the time at the mine trying to move things forward. The larder here at the cottage is getting rather bare, however, so I suspect we will be taking at least one day for a shopping trip to the Waitrose supermarket in Hexham. I’m sure we’ll need to check out a pub or two along the way, as well.

More soon,


Jesse & Crew

Dave and Ian dumping a load of muck over the side.

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