Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather for the past few days has been all over the place. Saturday was one of those rare days here in the North Pennines when the sun came out, it was warm, a slight breeze kept it from getting hot, and only a few scattered clouds were about. Sunday dawned cold, windy and overcast, and stayed that way all day. Yesterday started off much the same, but by mid-afternoon the clouds began to part and the sun came out for a nice, lingering Northern evening. This morning Iíve had to draw the curtains to keep the morning sun off the laptop screen. Whether this is an indication of what to expect for the day, one can only hope.

This past weekend was a bank holiday here, and Dave was away at a bike race. With no exposed fluorite to be collected, we were forced to seek alternate forms of entertainment. Taking advantage of the weather on Saturday, we took a hike from Rookhope up the old Boltís Law railway path to the ruins of the engine house on the felltop. This was evidently, the highest altitude standard gauge railway in the country, and was used to haul iron and lead ores from the mines around Rookhope to smelters and foundries in Tow Law. The grade was so steep that the cars were pulled up by cable. With the decline of mining, the railway closed in 1923, and all is now quite save for a few birds and sheep.

After the hike back down, we had a wander around the site of the Boltsburn Mine, which is located near the center of the village. The site of the mine is now partially occupied by an auto repair garage, the owners of which have used the surrounding area as a dump. It was sad to see the site of what was once one of the most prolific ore and specimen-producing mines of the region now littered with junk cars and farm equipment, but I guess thatís the way of things. Afterwards, we consoled ourselves with a pint at the Rookhope Inn and enjoyed the sunny day a bit longer.

Sunday was a football playoff day, which kept Ian at his laptop watching games for much of the afternoon. There was some live music happening in Hexham, so I took a drive up to check out a couple bands that Joan had expressed an interest in. The concerts were staged from a gazebo-like bandstand in a park in the center of town. Given how cold and windy it was, I really felt sorry for the musicians, but they did manage to pull off a good show, albeit, weighed down by coats and jackets. A stop at the local Waitrose provided us with some fresh Scottish salmon for dinner.

Despite the holiday, we were back at the mine yesterday, and spent much of the day mucking out the face. Though the shot around the pocket zone was fairly light, it did manage to produce a fair amount of muck, which took a good part of the day to clear. The process was not helped by the fact that the charge on the locoís batteries seemed to be running down by mid-afternoon, forcing us to take a break while I put it back on the charger for a bit. Once cleared, I could see that the fluorite seam looks to be present, running across the face, and blossoming into a muddy expanse on the left side. Hopefully, this will be a pocket. Todayís photo is of Dave and the Eimco, getting ready to do battle with our latest pile of muck.

Today we will be installing new timber at the face, which will mean a morning of hauling up more timber from the quarry floor. We also need to install an extension to the water line as, after the latest blast, the present configuration will no longer reach all the way to the face. That done, we will then be able to have at the face and see what we have turned up.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse & Ian

Getting ready to shift rock.

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