Thursday, May 28, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here in the North Pennines continues to be what is referred to in local weather-speak as “changeable.” A typical sequence seems to be a bit of sun and broken clouds in the morning, followed by heavy overcast during the day, which breaks up again toward evening. Yesterday we had the warm and sunny part in the morning, but upon emerging from the mine around 1530 we found not only had heavy clouds moved in, but that the temperature had dropped to around 8C (46F) and it was beginning to rain. This continued well into the evening, but I do recall seeing the moon peaking out around 2200. This morning we are back to the broken clouds and a bit of sun. The clouds are whipping by as if they were at some sort of racetrack, and the trees next door are dancing about in a strong breeze. No summer, yet.

Tuesday was largely spent timbering the face and making it reasonably secure for collecting. First order of business was to haul up enough timber for the job and get it cut to proper length. Fortunately, we were in the sunny but cool portion of the daily weather cycle for this. While Dave installed the next set of timbers at the face, Ian and I took on the job of apprentice plumber and installed a new length of water hose, which will give us easier access to water as we move the face forward over the summer.

Dave finished up the timbering around 1500, about the time we finished dealing with the last of the leaks in the new section of the water line, so the last couple hours were spent seeing what we had exposed with the last shot. After a bit of washing, we could see that there was a seam of ironstone alteration extending across much of the face, and that a lot of green bits were showing. Unfortunately, the fluorite-bearing seem was very tight and highly broken. We did manage to get about a tub’s worth of fairly mediocre specimens out before calling it a day.

Dave is away for a couple days to help his son Joe pack up and move out of student housing at university in Exeter (about as far south of here as one can get in this country), so Ian and I were hoping for a couple days of collecting at the face. I think what we got is a couple days of moving rock by hand. Yesterday morning we went in planning to excavate some of the rock surrounding the alteration seam at the face and see what turned up. True to plan, we spent much of the day moving rock by hand, but got virtually nothing in the way of fluorite specimens for our efforts. Around 1530 we were pretty cold, wet and tired, so decided to take a break and warm up outside. Emerging from the mine we found the morning’s sunshine long gone and a bunch of dark clouds heading toward us from up dale. The clouds soon turned to cold rain and our attempts to eat our sandwiches in the container soon began to look more like potential hypothermia than a late lunch break, so we called it a day. Back up dale Ian took a hot bath and after changing into dry clothes, I braved the rain and winds for the quick walk to the Blue Bell.

Today we are looking at one more attempt to find something collectable at the face. A section of the fluorite-containing seam still remains, with a large rock underneath it. What we’ve gotten from the seam so far has been nothing more than green bits of pea-gravel, but there’s always the faintest of chances that there’s something worthwhile behind the large rock. We’ll need to move it first, to find out, however. I really suspect, however, that as soon as Dave returns, we’ll start another cycle of drill-blast-muck-timber, in order to see what might lie ahead.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse & Ian

Ian contemplates what to do about a large rock that is in our way.

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