Halls Old Grove
In 2010, a team of Eldonites descended a small set of climbing shafts located inside a disused quarry. Following the strong draught they broke out into large vein workings. After exploring much of the mine the way on was lost.
In 2016 a team have returned to try to continue further…
- Written by Jon Pemberton
- Hits: 1590
Just Luke and I this evening and with the howling gale up top we were underground as quickly as possible armed with bolting and surveying gear. The draught tonight was the most powerful I had felt/heard it during our exploratory trips. We soon reached the stemple ladder (3rd pitch) where our effort would begin. Geared up I tied in to the Y-hang and bridged up to the top of the rift and placed a bolt for protection, a couple more bolts saw me safely across the traverse and into the continuation which didn’t look promising.
Luke way up in the roof
The level met a solid wall after a few metres but a hole mid-way along dropped a couple of metres to a steep slope under hanging death and an awkward traverse between rotting stemples and loose debris. I bolted across to meet a solid vertical wall then abseiled to a platform where I could see the route down blocked with boulders. Luke surveyed tonight’s effort which turns out to be a void just metres above the first proper traverse – Ho Hum!
Don't look up
With nothing of significance we de-rigged and headed out.
- Written by Jon Pemberton
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Rob and I met in the usual layby at 6pm ready to rock and roll. I was super keen to get back down the mine after the Christmas break to continue the bolt climb but mainly to get out of the cold as it was bitterly cold up top o’ the moor.
We descended at 6:15pm armed with surveying and bolting gear. We made progress to The Tool Room fairly quickly where Rob watched and snapped photos whilst I continued the climb. Lack of communication meant that we had neither the bolting hammer nor etrier so the adjustable spanner and drag cord would have to suffice. After an hour or so of faff I gingerly bridged up the steep slope resting atop the stacked dead’s which abruptly ended at a clay way-board and solid’ish roof. A crawl east led to a funnel of loose debris which connected back into The Chamber of Secrets – DRATS!
I re-rigged the pitch stripping of the rest of the gear as I descended, Rob down climbed from The Tool Room and we moved on to task 2 – surveying The Bunker. This only took 15min with a good mooch around taking some photos of the bottle and can. Rob had a quick look up the loose slope which seems to continue horizontally at the top but dangerously loose and only 3m vertical away from the bottom of the pitch.
It was now 9pm so we hastily moved on to task 3 – A gander beyond the dropped boulder midway up the slope in the pipe workings. After removing some SRT gear I slipped through to a small continuation of the westward heading level. Rob and I confirmed this with a visual connection. At the end of the level an ore shute rose for 2m before a boulder blockage, from where a small trickle of water emitted.
It was now 9:30pm so we decided to call it a day, gathering a couple of ropes and the drill on the way out. We both noticed how there was a constant inwards draught in both the stooping level beyond The High Road and at the top of the short climbing shaft which leads to The Bunker but it’s lost somewhere in the pipe workings. We reached surface at 10:30pm absolutely spent and ready for a pint.
- Written by Jon Pemberton
- Hits: 1576
I met Luke in the usual layby at 6pm ready for an early start on tonight’s push. Luke had already collected the drill, bolts and more rope from Rob’s and after kitting up we descended around 6:15pm. We made a quick descent and soon arrived at The High Road, Rob was descending an hour later armed with his smaller drill and plans of bolting a traverse line from The Tool Room to The high Road and then to re-rig The High Road, thus eliminating all faff – ok not all!
We soon found ourselves stood at the base of tonight’s ‘push’ (the climb at the end of the pipe workings). I climbed up the loose slope to a solid back wall and placed a bolt for protection then gingerly walked over more looseness to where a vertical stacked wall towered over me. I placed a high bolt and rigged it as a traverse so Luke could clip in to something ready to spot me. I removed all offending articles and started a wide bridge. The stacking wasn’t that high and the plan was to boulder it on my stop with a load of slack to the last bolt. Once I was safe Luke could pass me the drill and I could bolt it from the top. After a lot of help from Luke I found myself clinging on to the sturdiest looking boulder and stood atop the stacking.
“SAFE” I shouted down to Luke and with fingers crossed turned around to a blank wall! The level was completely blind – buggery! Rather than place a bolt up here I down climbed the wall with help from Luke who guided my feet. I was soon clipped back to the traverse. We de-rigged this part and Luke headed up to the short level which I had looked at last week. He placed a bolt and rigged it as a pitch ready for Rob to come and survey later on.
Absolutely gutted we headed back down to the pitch after a little re-rigging we ducked under for Luke to check out the other side of the Wall below The High Road. Rob was above us at this point and after telling him that we’d ‘killed it’ he told us to check out the small shaft just in front of us. This is the 3m climber which we looked down last week, we had the drill with us and it needed ticking off. I lowered myself into the shaft just to check out the ginging, it seemed bomber and gingerly down climbed it and low and behold I found myself looking through a window at floor level leading into further workings.
I shouted up to the others that it went and climbed through the eye-hole which landed me on a large pile of stacking. The chamber floor was covered in silt which had obviously come from below the wall. On the floor lay 2 large timbers the length of the chamber, which I couldn’t work out if were part of a railway or just very large stemples? Straight in front was a neatly stacked pile of deads whilst to my left a rubble slope led up to the chambers roof. On the floor of the chamber in front of the neat stacking was a half sunk mug, it wasn’t until I sat down to examine where I dropped into the chamber when I noticed a glass bottle stored away in the stacking complete with a cork in the top. I shouted up to Luke who placed a bolt so we could avoid the ginging on the way out but before he joined me we made a crystal clear vocal connection with the slope and the funnel of boulders at the bottom of the pitch. We both had a good gander and speculated what this place was and what purpose it served… still none the wiser, it just seemed like a bunker to me.
Luke checking out the sinking mug
And the bottle...
Luke inspected further up the slope keeping calm with its unsafe nature, I went for a second look and nearly died! Luke saved me again by guiding my feet back down trying not to bring the world down with me. Once back up and up the pitch we met Rob who had done a cracking job with both traverse lines and with time on our hands whilst Rob went to survey the top level at the end of the pipe working Luke and I started the bolt climb above The Tool Room. I got to a point not far off the slope we have been looking at these past few weeks whilst Luke checked out The Tool Room before it was time to leave and after a few minutes of faff we abseiled from the top avoiding the loose slope but still landing us in the slop at the bottom.
We surfaced at 10:40pm to a moon lit quarry and manage to scrape a pint before the Christmas break.
- Written by Jon Pemberton
- Hits: 1544
With opportunity for an early start and a definite beer on the cards Rob and I met at 6pm in the usual layby, quickly kitted up and descended the mine for 6:15pm. Luke had to bail due to work commitments so only 2/3’s of Team Awesome were present tonight and OH BOY did he miss a good trip – sorry Luke.
I offered to carry the drill knowing Rob would be doing the bolting and within no time at all Rob was kitting up at the start of The High Road ready to finish off the traverse. Here’s where we started to hear loud crashing and banging noises – the wall below The Tool Room had started to collapse, this continued throughout the evening too. Rob re-rigged the rope from last week and made a start whilst I shouted words of encouragement. After a couple of bolts on some very dodgy ground Rob managed to get a pretty bomber stainless steel long bolt in solid rock from where he could abseil down to a ledge of chocked boulders and climb up to safety. He placed another bolt at the far end and backed it up as the mine looked to continue beyond, making the traverse mostly free-hanging. Rob shouted for me to join him to see how it was? I picked up the surveying gear, spare rope and what bolts/hangers we had left, clipped in and started to gingerly make my way across. I placed my left foot out wide to give me some stance ready to attack the traverse but my foot gave way immediately to the wall which crumbled away beneath me.
“Hmmm…” I thought to myself, this is going to be fun! The rope along the traverse was still rigged on runners rather than knotted as Rob had just led the route which left slack that left you hanging below the decent footings. Also the slack had to be pulled through when changing cowtails and then pulled taught once past the runner to stop you falling on the rope. I felt much safer once I had passed the good bolt and soon joined Rob on the other side who quickly remarked at how we’d passed a milestone and broken back into clean workings!
Rob's concentration face
The possible two ways on we could see from the start quickly turned out to be one as the left was just an alcove. A boulder slope dropped down to a short stooping level with remnants of railway sleepers on the floor. It passed a corner to the head of a pitch in a larger chamber from where we could see a large stacked wall at the opposite end. Excitement growing Rob placed a couple of bolts and started his abseil. Within metres from the pitch head he stopped and whooped at a small alcove containing an old miner’s candle. He continued his descent (approx. 8m) to a funnel of boulders which looked rather voidy and obviously continued deeper. Rob made his way back under the pitch to a safe place as the floor was constantly on the move.
T'owd Man's candle
I wasted no time and joined him on the floor. Things started to get real interesting from here on as I safely got myself below the stacked wall at the far end. Looking up I could see another eye-hole similar to that of The Tool Room just above the stacked wall. Rob joined me and after clearing off some footings with a little arse grabbing from my colleague I was easily up the climb and started to place a couple of bolts to rig a rope. Unfortunately the eye-hole didn’t go and was blind after a few metres. From the top of the wall the chamber continued steeply up to another ledge and what looked like a continuation at roof level. The whole place reminded me of Knights Templar in Oxlow Caverns (not that many people have seen) but on a smaller scale and pipe workings rather than natural. Cautious about time we dropped down a slope at the base of the second climb which led up and down a few climbs to a complete run in. We both noted that the colour of rock on the floor was a lovely shade of pink. Water could also be heard towards the entrance buried under the mass of boulders Just before a pristine ore chute in the roof.
We surveyed out and both agreed some of the climbs we had just done looked a lot sketchier on the way out! I had a quick mooch up the second climb which gained access to a small mined level at roof height, unfortunately this also led to a run in after a 10 metres. I could see back across at this height to another stacked wall and potential way over the top. This is situated much higher than anything around this area but will require a few bolts to gain access.
We continued to survey out and once back at the pitch we shuffled over boulders underneath the passage above to a wide, low mined out chamber which led back to the vein. Low and behold we were faced with the opposite side of the infamous wall we had been throwing rocks at last week. A small 3m shaft sunk down on our side which was too dodgy to descend but looked blind.
Once at the top of the pitch we took a moment to bag the drill ready to survey across the traverse when I saw a straw type object in the rubble, after a quick clean it turned out to be remnants of T’owd Man’s smoking pipe, also a short distance back along the level fingerprints could be seen in pockets on the wall from where miners had fingered out clay for stemming shot holes - this was turning out to be quite trip indeed! We shot our final survey leg across the traverse and were soon Anchor bound but still with a distant rumble coming from the slope below The Tool Room. I half expected to find our rope buried under a load of debris but it looked to have not changed much, it still very loose and very dodgy.
We made it our fairly sharpish from that point and were on surface for 10:30pm ready for a victory pint fully psyched to return next week – another epic trip!
- Written by Jon Pemberton
- Hits: 1437
After meeting Rob at his gaf I made the journey over to Bradwell Moor with my newly aqquired 100m rope. I had offered to descend early to re-rig the first proper pitch and traverse to allow us useable rope deeper in the mine. I descended at 6.15pm and quietly pottered on with my job, it wasn't until I started to re-rig the traverse when Luke appeared which helped a lot. Rob eventually joined us by the time Luke and I were rigging the pitch beyond - Team Awesome back in business!!
We proceeded on to where we left off last week, our freshly bolted yet to be descended pitch. Rob descended first filming it all on his GoPro whilst Luke and I watched from above. The 13m pitch dropped into a mined out chamber with its floor entirely made up from Miner's dead's and past collapses. At the far end a 6m stacked wall rose up from the floor to a possible continuation above but not looking promising. I descended next followed by Luke whose light shone behind the wall making it appear rather thin. The penny dropped and rather than take the high road literally (bolt traverse the top of the chamber, which also looked to be another way on) we lined up and each pitched the heaviest rock we could throw, aiming for the weakest looking point in order to bring down the wall. After striking out we gave up and took The High Road with only our ego's in a state of collapse! One by one we ascended the rope back to the take off point from where the traverse would start.
Rob bolting across The High Road
Rob made a start bolting across the roof of the chamber (The High Road) gaining access to an alcove in the right wall with a slightly better stance/bolt to the one he had at the previous bolt which had led to some severe cramping. I'll not go into this too much but on his retreat to the pitch head he had to be rescued after somehow ending up in a position where his footloop was just above head height!? - Ask him about it...
Luke had already departed ways at this point and dropped the small climber at the start of The Chamber of Secrets, this descended approx. 8m to a very dubious looking roofed chamber with collapses at both ends but appears to go deeper. We all took note of how the wall below The Tool Room was beginning to collapse after recent use. We exited at 9:45pm with bags of time and what a surprise to be greeted by a fairly decent turnout from the club - for a change.
- Written by Jon Pemberton
- Hits: 1568
After a meeting up of the usual suspects at the usual time and place we descended the mine at 7:15pm with our most geared up trip to date. 2x 15m ropes, a ruck of long stainless bolts and hangers, a fistful of krabs, surveying gear and Rob’s photography kit (making its first appearance underground since Mulu 2015!)
I made my way down with the drill whilst Rob and Luke rearranged some rigging on the way down to make it a little safer. Once in the Chamber of Secrets the climb down has now turned into a gently descending slope thanks to the gardening from last week. We drilled a couple of holes for when we descend the Climber and placed a rope on the short pitch to avoid the stack of dead’s. Once at the steep slope I geared up for bolting with Luke belaying me whilst Rob captured the moment on camera.
After a couple of bolts I was standing on top of the large boulder slope at the west end of the chamber. I placed a couple more Stainless bolts for a Y-hang without even checking the way on and shouted for the others to come up. After knocking some loose rock down on to Rob I surveyed our situation. We had climbed up on to a large chocked mud/rubble slope which appears to have peeled off from high in the roof creating a large alcove above. A steep mud slope descends straight on (west) to a complete choke of miner’s back-fill. A way over the top continued but would require a short climb or traverse from the head of the pitch. A small eye hole similar to the one in the entrance series heads south but would also require a short sketch climb with its location right above the pitch head.
We made for the eye-hole first. I cleared off a couple of muddy foot holds as the mine beyond the Chamber of Secrets had started to get pretty squalid compared to the lovely clean entrance series (don’t get me wrong it’s still no Gautries!). Luke spotted me on the pitch head so after pulling some rope through my stop I started to climb and with a decent footing from an old stemple pocket pulled my body into the eyehole only to be prevented access from a tight rope (bugger – not enough slack!) Back down, back up and I was safely in the eye-hole. I pulled the pitch rope up with me and poked my head into a small stopping height blasted out chamber containing lots of T’owd Man’s tools including sledge/lump hammers, picks, stemming poles etc. Luke passed up the Disto and I surveyed The Tool Room and climbed back down with Luke spotting.
We checked the time (9pm) and started the climb at the westerly end. This was fairly easy and a after a short traverse from a low level, I gained a good footing and only one bolt was required to protect the climb which soon left me standing on the far side on some good solid rock. I placed a bolt creating an abseil prussic enabling the others to join me without creating too much faff!
Jon finishing off the traverse
Once Rob and Luke were up they continued to survey whilst I re-rigged the pitch head. A short step up led to the top of a 13m pitch containing a couple of deteriorating stemple’s which will require removing and precariously stacked wall right next to where the rope will hang. We could all feel the draught up here which was encouraging.
Now 10:10pm we had to hastily make our retreat to ensure we made the pub. I headed out first followed by Luke whom I almost killed on the way out after a collapsing pitch head – sorry Luke. Talking to the others it sounds like we were all pretty spent ascending to moonlight. I must’ve tweaked my left shoulder on one of the climbs and struggled on the traverse lines. Actually sweating enough to soak my hair through by the time I had reached the entrance pitch.
- Still going (draughting)
- Made the pub
- It’s turning into a longer trip
- Buggered shoulder
- 2x near death experiences!
- Written by Jon Pemberton
- Hits: 1552
Now that we know exactly where we are on Moss Rake, we have yet to find any documented info for Hall's Old Grove Mine except for a small snippet mentioning the mine and its location, only to confirm not much is known...
Luke Cafferty, Rob Eavis and I (Team Awesome) met at the usual parking spot and were descending the mine for 7:15pm. We made quick progress with Rob giving Luke a heads-up regarding the situation so far. I got to the start of the traverse which required bolting and waited for the others to catch up. Luke and Rob continued with the survey across the pitch head where I was to be loaded up with lots of bolting equipment, anyone would think I was bolting up Titan there was that much! I placed a bolt at the start and anchored the rope ready to progress over the large hole which had now opened up beneath my feet. Progress was fairly easy and after a couple more bolts I was soon within metres of the top most pile of stacked deads Rob and I had been looking up to on the last trip. From the last bolt I pulled a few metres of rope through my stop and made the sketchy last bridge beyond the void to safety.
Rob traversing back
Now that I was on firm ground I crawled under the low roof and found myself in a continuation of the level - hurrah! Also the draught was howling through behind me - double hurrah! The boulder floor sloped down to a very small shaft quickly followed by a larger shaft passing underneath a really dodgy looking false floor. I could clearly see the level continuing at the bottom which must lay beyond our previous westerly limit from last week. The other side of the false floor another hole dropped to the same level although this hole was blocked by stemples. The level at this height soon ended.
Rob and Luke joined me continuing with the survey. Our excitement was growing, we quickly placed another bolt above the dodgy hole whilst Rob confirmed that the first tiny shaft was probably the mines shitter! I abseiled enough so my body was level with all the dodgy false floor and gardened what I could to make it look safe and continued the abseil. The rope was definitely going to rub so Rob passed down the drill and I placed another bolt underneath the false floor to rebelay the rope which avoided dislodging the world above. I descended to the floor, shouted, "ROPE FREE" and quickly got out of the way by descending a short climb. It was here where I noticed the echo from in front of me.
what lay in front of me was a large rift chamber 50m long, quite similar to that of West Chamber in Oxlow Caverns but not on the same scale. A short rubble slope dropped down to another shaft in the floor. This was completely ignored for the large black space straight ahead. A large stacked ledge appeared in front but would be a short climb to reach. Above my head was a large tree trunk sized stemple across the level and a few T'owd Man tools in a bad state of decay were scattered on the platform I was now standing on. Rob soon joined me and asked if I had noticed the passage heading north midway down the pitch!? I had completely missed a stooping sized backfilled bedding passage heading off without even a glance...
Rob below The Stemple
Luke soon joined us now on Disto duty and we progressed forward down another short climb without dislodging any loose rock and continued underneath the Large stacked ledge above. Here a few buckets and tool remains lay to one side and the floor seems to close up just below where the chamber is at its widest, at over 3m wide. Progressing forward leads to the main part of the chamber where a large, near vertical mud and boulder slope leads up to the chamber wall. Looking up at this point the with a high beam further climbing shafts can be spotted in the roof which is lined with stemples from what we could make out, at over 25m high. We were in awe, this was turning into a pretty awesome trip for Team Awesome!
Rob and Luke in the middle of the chamber
At this point we were in serious breach of missing the pub, so after Rob and Luke had completed the survey of the chamber I had a quick climb up the loose slope to a point of stupidity and after a telling off we returned to the start of the chamber ready for one last look before we made our exit. We had a quick glance at the climber i the floor and started to ascend the dodgy pitch. Rob checked out the bedding passage I had missed on the way down which continued around a corner to a premature end. Once we were all safe at the top of the pitch Rob made a fantastic effort of gardening the pitch head ready for the next trip, only having a few "nearly" moments which proved to be very exciting viewing.
We arrived back on surface at 11pm and missed the pub. Definitely worth it though.
- Written by Jon Pemberton
- Hits: 1597
After debating and questioning which mine we have been descending for the past month we finally have an answer thanks to Phil Wolstenholme (TSG). We have been descending a mine called Near Cross Mine or Hall's Old Grove Mine. What we (cavers) know as Kitty Cross engine shaft is on the opposite side of the road to our mine and called Upper Cross for the record, Nether Cross (Kitty Cross) lies on the south side of the road but further west to Halls' Old Grove.
Rob Eavis and I met at the usual layby and descended the mine at 7:15pm. Armed with more rope, drill and surveying gear I continued to descend the mine from the point we had left from last week rigging/bolting en route whilst Rob surveyed from the rear. Dan and co. had already descended the shaft and some nice looking bolts were already placed at the shaft top so it was just a case of rigging for the moment. I descended the shaft which wasn't very deep to a boulder floor where east soon ended after a couple of metres. The floor dropped away to the right to a large mined out vein with a few bits of bar in the floor. Noting that the draught was present at the bottom of the shaft.
At the end of the level I came to a squeeze under a very dodgy looking boulder which I assumed was the one Dan mentioned in his previous report. Underneath this the mine continued for a few metres which a climber in the roof but the level ahead soon finished in deads. What was interesting here was the large haulage/rope mark at the base of the climber which went right to floor which means the mine possibly went deeper at this point.
Once Rob had caught up with the survey, we traversed the level from where the floor was at its highest to reach a large stacked platform with some large sketchy boulders chocked in the level, once of which was vital in using as a stepping stone to continue beyond. On the platform a body sized, voidy drystone wall could be climbed only to realise once standing on the top that the otherside dropped into the climber as seen from below. Rob had to survey back blind from this stance which led to both of us cramping up!
The level did continue approx. 5m giher up but would need bolting to reach. We agreed to try higher up as it would be easier to descend to. We headed back out to the top of the shaft from our starting point from this evening where Rob traversed across to where Dan and co. had left their exploration, only to shout back that he could see the top of the level and it looked to be continuing but would need a 10m bolting exercise to gain access, a much easier option than bolting up!
We decided to call it a trip and departed to the Red Lion.
- Written by Jon Pemberton
- Hits: 1718
After completing Project X and free to move on I mentioned a mine which Dan Hibberts and Bob Toogood had explored in 2009, Dan had written up their potterings in an article called "Part of Kitty Cross?" which appears in EPC newsletter no. 2009_02. Whilst in The Anchor I briefly explained what I knew about the mine to Rob which wasn't much... that it lies on Moss Rake (on the opposite side of the road to Raddle Pits), was draughting like mad and was dead dodgy! - knowing Dan and Bob's digs this meant that this was probably an understatement!
Bob had agreed to join us as his knowledge of where the entrance was located would make progress quicker. Luckily Rob and Toby had already seeked out the entrance the previous Saturday what with Bob phoning in sick the day before this proved to be advantage Team Awesome.
Rob and I met at 7pm and carried a 40m, 25m & 20m rope, drill, bolting gear and surveying gear to the entrance. Bob had told me on the phone that he thought the mine would still be rigged so we ditched the 40m just inside and made our way through the hand-picked level. (Note. You won't find the entrance until your head is in it!)
The Draught was crazy! it lived up to what everyone had said. With it being a cold evening it was draughting inwards, opposite to what Rob and Toby had felt the previous Saturday. We made our way through a loose chamber to the head of a short -8m climbing shaft which we had to garden before descending. Beyond the climber a short crawl led to another loose chamber with no ways on. We rigged the shaft and descended, at the bottom a duck under lead to a short hand-picked level which leads to a mined out chamber with stacked deads at either end - again no ways on. A short climb down and in the opposite wall another short hand-picked level leads to a window close to the top of a large hand-picked vein. To the left a large pile of stacked deads soon finish with a drop over the otherside which we didn't explore. To the right there are two bolts on the opposite wall (but no rope - oops!) which drops you on to a steep loose slope. A short climb on the left leads to a short blasted out crawl that ends in a natural fissure too small to enter.
Back on the main vein a short walk leads to the head of a loose pitch. I could see one of Dan's bolts 2m further out so bridged across and rigged this to where another 5m or so further and slightly lower two further bolts were visible for a suitable Y-hang. We rigged this with what rope we had left. Going off Dan's description from 2009 this must be where all the loose deads had to be gardened which left six firmly solid stemple's still in place.
At the bottom of the pitch a loose slope continued down to a hole in the floor but with no more rope left to descend this would have to be our turn-around point. In the opposite direction a level continued and descended underneath more stacked deads to a continuation of the hand picked workings ending at a run in containing fairly new 'ish waste material. This section also contained a natural wall with flowstone and what also looked like a back-filled solution cavity.
We surveyed out from here and headed to The Anchor for a reliable pint.
COTPD mentions Kitty Cross Cavern in the area but it's vague description sounds nothing like the place we are in! -137m entrance shaft to a short section of natural. Most of the mine we are in has all been hand-picked with very few sections of blasting.
Any Ideas where the heck we are?
Rob in the 'Eye Hole' shooting splays in the Main Vein
Passing by the 'bomber' stemple's