Old Moor Mines

A few fields somewhere between Peak and Eldon, there's gotta be a lot of cave under there somewhere!

10/04/2019 - Luke, Rob, Jeff

After finishing Wham engine the previous week, much to my relief due to the crumbling nature of the mine, our attentions were drawn back to Portaway Mine. Rob and I had previously descended the entrance, gone westerly down the vein and brought this to a conclusion. Whilst exiting, I had shoved my head in to the easterly continuation of vein only to find it went on, but thrutchy and in need of some rope to get down to potential lower levels. So todays task, was to crack on and continue this rifty vein, this time joined by Luke.

Walking across the field Luke thought he saw a black panther ´or large dark fox´ in a quarry, we looked but the beast had gone...

We prepared the entrance, Rob descended first rigging on down, and soon all three of us were at the bottom in the easterly heading vein, thrutching our way along to not the first, but the second pitch down, looking of about 10m. The first we wanted to do later as it looked less enticing. Rob did the anchors and kindly he let me go down first. I think he had already clocked what was down there! There wasn´t much to see. At the bottom a bedding of soft orangy clay type mud was present, which we had also seen on the previous trip in the westward direction. For us it was interesting as this layer could give reference to other caves and beddings of a similar nature putting us on the same level.
Right at the bottom was a pool of water, west was tight and east even tighter. I came back up.

Jeff on the first descent down the second pitch

Rob had headed over the top of the pitch I was now ascending, and he went off to see what lay ahead. He climbed about and up a ramp of boulders, which he seemed to think was a blocked shaft coming in. Although it did sound like a drawn conclusion, as he came back down fairly sheepishly not to move any of the suspended boulders. At the base of this potential shaft we were now about 50m from the entrance pitch and it had a feel of being slightly more natural. But even after a good poke all about there was no indication of natural passage heading off from the vein. In the mean time Luke hadn´t been sat waiting, but had climbed up above the second pitch gaining a higher level, but this soon closed down.

Jeff looking like he's enjoying Derbyshire caving :-)

We started to head back to the entrance. Rob went down the first pitch that we had traversed across initially, and this dropped down to a similar level to the previously explored pitch, once again with the band of orange clay. We spent a bit of time analyzing the draft, which was noticeable, but we concluded almost certainly circular due to our hot and steamy bodies.

We surveyed out and derigged, making it back in time for the pub this time. A few were chopping at the bit for a pint, as on some of the previous trips we had gone dry.

A nice mine, if a bit on the tight, horizontal, thrutchy side. Nice entrance shaft with a railway sleeper wedged half-way down!


Luke showing it's easy to be this awesome

Far too wet for Nettle so we headed back up onto Old Moor to drop some new mines we’d spotted on Google Earth, in the same field as the last drop but on the next rake North. The first looked very enticing at first but was unfortunately only 5m deep to a solid rock/bone floor.

The next one we hadn’t previously spotted from satellite. It had a large metal sheet on it which needed 2 people to lift. Beneath was a 4m ginged climbing shaft which below that opened up into a narrow but long rift. This rift looked impossibly tight, especially near the bottom, and the thought of sliding down into it was not tantalising. However if we were to return it’d be good to have a better idea of how we would tackle it so I decided to carefully freeclimb down for a better look. As it turned out the rift was wider than it looked, and actually quite deep. I climbed and slid down about 15m vertically and could see a steep rubble slope ~5m below me. I chucked a rock which bounced off the slope and went another good distance further down, out of sight. Hmmm, definitely going to need a rope here! Climbing back up was tricky, especially as the smooth walls were also quite muddy, and Jeff was filming so I had to be awesome.

We then carefully replaced the lid and went for a wander around the surprisingly big quarry up there then headed on to the next mine we’d spotted. This is very well capped with concrete railway sleepers but looking down through the cracks looks really good. Doubt we’ll be able to lift the sleepers easily so we had a look at digging in the side, which doesn’t look too bad.

Finally we headed over to have another go at finding Conies Dale Pots, mostly cos Big Jim keeps hammering on about them. Indeed the main pot it a very nice little vadose pot, clean with nice rock sculpting. Jeff was really excited about the prospects at the bottom, getting excited that he could see a few metres beyond the bottom. I differ.

Pub was calling, even though it was not even 9pm, so Wizard and Onion Rings (calamari) at the Anchor was sought.

Again I called off Nettle due to silly high rainfall so me n Jeff headed up to Old Moor again with the plan to head down the small shaft with the metal sheet lid. We surprisingly found it straight away in the dark and the two of us lifted off the heavy lid. However all was not well as the shaft was now blocked 4m down by a large, dead sheep! Bits of blood and wool at the top showed that it was in quite a state before it was chucked down. This was no accident. Either way, there was no way we’d get past it nor haul it up just the two of us, so the job was shafted and we left the Shafted Sheep Shaft to drop the other shaft found last week.

This other shaft was the larger one that Luke was most excited about, so we knew he’d like us to let him know what was down there. We carefully dug out the side and Jeff descended into the unknown. One rebelay to avoid a concrete sleeper they obviously dropped when lidding it got him to the bottom of the 30m shaft. He hid out of the way whilst I joined him, noting the numerous levels and distinct beddings on the way down. I followed Jeffers into a level at the bottom heading West, which dropped down and back on itself through an awesomely calcited rift, but no way on. We surveyed back and I was keen on heading straight out to the pub, but Jeff decided to squirm into a tight rift heading East. I was about to shout up saying stuff like that never goes anywhere, when he called back saying there he’d already gone over one pitch down and the drill shot holes were coming from the other direction! By the time I’d got to him he was at another pitch down and we decided to call it a night. We surveyed and derigged and missed the pub. So generally an evening of mixed success…



Took advantage of the light snow covering and went for a quick wonder about on Daisy/Oxlow Rake with Jeff. Found two mine shafts with concrete sleepers on top which were draughting out well, whereas Hazard Mine had no noticeable melting on top.


Pre-pub meet jaunt so needed something quick, so we decided to drop the smaller looking mine shaft found the week before. A small bit of excavating around the side of the sleepers got us abseiling past a large boulder and into a small shaft.


A rebelay halfway down and dropping a few old timbers spanning the shaft got us to the bottom of the 15m shaft. Here two small levels went off, both looking quite old in style. I took the bigger one, letting Luke squirm up the smaller one to an expected dead-end after only 5m. My way ended after roughly 15m at a natural fissure on the rake which has some awesome calcite/fluorspar crystals. Halfway along the level a small muddy collapse on the right (north) looked like it had fallen in since the miners had left. I dug at it a little and found the draft was coming from here in what looks like a small, natural boulder collapse. Not the most appetising looking dig but it’s certainly worth a poke or two, given its location!


Armed with lots of slings and long crow bars we headed up to the larger shaft, potentially known as Old Moor Mine. Looking down through the tiny cracks between the sleepers the shaft looks like an awesome engine shaft, similar in width and style to JH, and we allowed ourselves to get a little excited. With all three of us with slings around one end of a central sleeper we managed to lift it enough to get a bar across underneath it. We then moved around to the other end and repeated. Easy  However the result was obvious once we looked down. The shaft has unfortunately been filled with all sorts of rubbish. I abseiled down 10m to the blockage but there was no way through, the big draught must be pushing up through lots of little gaps. Ho hum.

We carefully put the sleeper back and went over to our second objective of the evening, a shaft on the rake slightly north of the first. This also has a good outward draft and a hole to side of the sleepers providing quite an easy route in. Luke descended first whilst I live streamed the descent on Facebook for a laugh. The top section of ginging is fine as long as you don’t look at it at all (unlike what Jeff did) and after only ~10m the bottom is reached and a level heads off either way along the vein. West ends quickly but east is a cartgate with rails still in the floor, and it went. Some hilarious rock throwing at dodgy bits (de)stabalised certain sections of the cartgate, which ensured Jeff was going no further and that I then had to do some slippery traversing over some newly opened holes to see if the gate continued beyond, which it did. Here the floor looked really solid, I even shouted back that I thought I was in solid rock, however I shortly reached a small hole in the centre of the tracks which showed I certainly wasn’t on solid rock, far from it! All I could see was blackness below. After a further 30m another small collapse was reached was to unstable enough to not attempt alone so I returned. Having another look at the small black hole in the floor I noticed a steady draft coming up through it! Very surprising indeed, we need to get down here somehow, and soon! Back at the large collapse the others confirmed things had stabilised more so I back and footed across once more and vowed I’d rig a rope next time! Heading up and out took no time, although Jeff pointed out the dodgy ginging near the surface and both me and Luke shuddered at it! We will be back….


Looking NE along the cartgate
Traversing the new hole in floor


Come to think about it, that is a bit dodgy


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