Rob E, Dylan K, Joe B, and Sam P 16/03/23

What is HDM?

A question I held on to. Rather than reading the previous trip report from Jon Luke and Rob, I decided to stay naive to the whole ordeal of the Thursday night trip. Turns out HDM is a unique and amazing mine underappreciated in all best of ways. After picking rob up with the mood high we arrive at the layby to be greeted by Sam and then Joe. All Suited and Booted. The goal for tonight was set out with the following. Survey the mine shaft and bolt traverse/climb up to various levels perpendicular to explore and find any more offshoots. Making our way to the lid I realize it’s not a lid in nature at all but rather a Tomb. Huge Concrete sleepers hold sentry to the 70m Shaft below. With four bodies wrestling whilst using the magical power of the crowbar and leverage, we are granted access. With a sling tied around the sleeper with a safety line, Rob lowers himself into the shaft to find that the sling was never secured properly and thus with some Team Awesome acrobatics pins himself over the 70m drop arm wrapped around the not-so-safe safety line and re clips the sling! But you didn’t come out tonight because you wanted to be safe.

Looking down the engine shaft

With Rob on his way to the Chain ladder ledge about 50m below we hear rope free and send the next man Sam down. Joe and I just chat away as I wait for the next call.  As I lower myself onto the rope, I'm greeted with a precarious at best arch somewhat waiting to collapse on whoever/whatever is below. So, without touching it I carry on down. The Shaft is all built around a main slab of stone that from its amazing pick marks resembles a neolithic ruin stone perhaps, just a couple of stories high. Although its story is one of sweat and Lead as the miners ran their picks down a line of ore striking with amazing accuracy and creating long clawed grooves against the rock. From my experiences, this is one of the most vivid examples of this pick work. A well-worth sight for anyone willing. Passing the rebelay I come to a ledge about a meter away from the middle of the shaft and use the traverse line to exit the pitch. On the level, a great Chain Link ladder is hung over a stemple. Truly one-of-a-kind sight that can be seen on Jon Pemberton’s Trip report of “Three and a half men”. Reaching a fine Planning ground, we wait for Joe whilst I drink from a lovely rock fountain. With all of us together, we decide that Joe and Sam can bolt climb around while Rob and I survey the workings below. Off I jump back on the pitch and descend 20m further to a slope veering off into more passage at the bottom workings of the mine. 

With Rob at the top of the pitch, we initiate our surveying adventure by marking the first leg. Too bad we messed up and then had to get it on the way out. This actually worked out better though. Just enough water to cause slight discomfort I was pleased to see Rob and continue our survey into a known section of mine at an offshoot of the slope into a Slab roof passage. Continuing down this section you arrive at a fun little chamber with an ore shoot into the ceiling held together by stemples to the left of the ceiling when walking In as well as a continuing passage straight on that makes for a round trip connecting to a lower section coming into the room 90 degrees right of the continuation. We go for the survey of the small round trip to tick it off. After surveying the room, we move forward into a junction that is filled with spoil only allowing for a right turn. Now looking back, I get a good visual of the structural integrity of the passage and it does not look good to say the least. This however does not mean it lacks in the level of coolness the miner had in mind when building it. “Sometimes best not to think about it” Rob light-heartedly says. This a perfect description of our mindset in the events to come. Arriving at another junction there is a pit to the lower left and then a continuation straight ahead. I decide to free-climb down the pit to find it is a dead end. Sand starts to shift in from the walls onto my legs. We both chuckle and then I give a go to free climb out. Now more sand from the walls dislodges itself and closes in. I laugh again not yet feeling the danger this really could pose in hindsight burying me in. At this point, Rob above me states “Mabey you should get out of there” Then “Climb Climb Climb!”. I jump on the walls and pedal my legs against it reaching the lip as now the walls are really sliding in. I have escaped the Sand Pit of Doom and if anyone else wants to play it's down there waiting as if it is a Venus flytrap. Reaching the small chamber, we connect the round trip and decide not to journey further down as from experience Rob knows it is not worth it.

Dylan climbing into the unknown - by RobE

Now back in the main lower junction the plan if there had been one might have been to survey back out and see if Sam and Joe had found anything interesting. Although I already have. I state that I'm going to climb up the ore shoot as it looks enticing. Slowly and proud to say methodically I ascend the boulders that are held up by stemples realizing that it opens up above me I tell rob that this is a great lead and definitely should follow up and survey above. Reaching the top you enter a chamber filled with clogged footprints from the miners with a section of ceiling held up with stemples that are magnificently strained and bent from bearing the weight above. Rob Ascends behind me into what Is Dubious at best. Dare I even say that? Without caution, it will fall and so will you about 5-7m back where you came from. A two-person-sized hauling chamber then leads to an opening in the roof. As I climbed through, I was ecstatic and now knew we were in uncharted territory a big chamber with a passage to the left and two ways on the right.