Saturday, July 28, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

After suffering through several days of near perfect “midge weather” this week, things appear to have improved, at least temporarily. Yesterday the sun came out mid-day and with temperatures around 20C/68F and a slight breeze, things were about as good as it gets here in the North Pennines. So far, today has been much the same.

Dave and Joe have been off the past two days dealing with the installation of solar panels on the roof of their house. This was suppose to take only one day but evidently the scaffold necessary to get the things into the roof was never delivered on Thursday. As a result, Cal, Ian and I have spent the past two days taking turns at digging mud and rock in the cross-cut, interspersed with some sawing, washing and packing specimens and a bit of playing host and tour guide to an assortment of visiting friends.

After getting the latest large rock down and safely parked in the cross-cut awaiting the loco to haul it outside for cutting up, the three of us took turns at the area of the pocket behind where we got the big one last week. Initially, very little was showing except for a seam of our plastic mud, but as we worked away at it two new areas of fluorite on the roof of the cavity began to emerge. About this time local collector and friend Pete Briscoe showed up to see what all the fuss over the big rock was about. After taking a few photos he braved the mud and standing water to have a look into the cross-cut and take yet more photos.

As we gradually exposed more of the two roof plates it became obvious that at least one of them was held onto yet another very large rock by only a very thin rind of matrix. All attempts to collect specimens from this area simply resulted in the fluorite coming away in small bits as there was really nothing other than mud to hold it all together. The second roof plate initially looked as if it would behave the same way, but after some serious washing Cal discovered that there was a horizontal fracture running through the rock a few centimeters underneath the fluorite. After a good bit more washing we finally got brave enough to pry at the fracture with a screwdriver, and as luck would have it, a fairly large, intact plate of fluorite came away. A bit more washing and scraping of mud and what looked like a couple more plates of fluorite began to emerge at the back of the pocket, giving a nice end to what had started out as a frustrating day.

Friday we were back at the pocket in hot pursuit of more, accompanied by Ian’s old collecting partner Dave Lloyd who had come up for a short visit with his wife Audry. While Cal was washing some of our recent take from the mine prior to packing, Ian and I had at the cross-cut once again. In short order he had dug out two very nice, large plates of fluorite and had exposed the beginnings of what looked like several more. By lunch time we had recovered six very nice, large, and mostly undamaged plates, along with numerous smaller bits. The major part of our morning’s efforts is the subject of today’s photo. I don’t recall having a day like this since we were in the Blue Bell pocket four years ago. I wish it would happen more often!

After lunch Ian returned to the pocket to see what more he could do, while Cal and I got out the chain saw to cut up a batch of accumulated large specimens. With the sun out and a light breeze, it was a near perfect day for doing this. By around 4 pm we had finished with our sawing, and Ian had come to the conclusion that if there is anything more in the pocket, it is now out of reach and a light blast in the floor will be required to get at it. Feeling well satisfied with our day, everyone knocked off a bit early and headed back up dale for a few pints and a fish & chips supper at the Golden Lion.

Stay tuned for more…


Jesse, Ian, Cal and Kerith


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