Slaley Sough and Dunsley Springs Level
Sean, James and Larry met for a pre trip fuelling stop in Cromford prior to a planned trip into Slaley Sough/Thunder Mine and a ‘while we’re passing’ trip into Dunsley Springs Level.
I met up with them at the Goodluck layby and we promptly set off down the hill to avoid the welly gobbling mud slide route. A brief detour into Bonsal Leys level was limited by the height of the group’s wellingtons and we were soon scrambling up the valley side heading for Slaley. Sean soon brought us to the entrance, which lies below an overhanging slab of rock capped by a tree and a has a tell-tale spoil heap.
A crawl into the entrance and short section of cloying mud and we were on our way. The trip proceeded within a stooping sized shot blasted passage, eventually tightening to an awkward section seemingly just too low for crouching but feeling too roomy for crawling. A firm clay floor was welcomed by the knees. The passage intersected the Great Rake with passageway heading left and right. The right route leading to a winze in the floor, which could be easily bypassed by some stemple supported deads and a further short section terminated at a forefield. The left route forked to the northwest with a slot in the floor leading into some old workings, James explored a squeezy opening which sloped downwards, the recce indicated a space to turn around and a low onwards passage with a muddy floor. The remainder of the group declined the sporting challenge and once regrouped we followed the main passage which eventually opened into a small chamber. The walls of which contained much graffiti, possibly associated with the original miners and with the usual additional spattering from later visitors. A helpful carbide inscribed notice on the wall indicated that Thunder shaft lay to the right fork. A brief inspection and then the onward passage to the left, which led to a short crawl over some collapsed material and a raise in the roof, presumably once leading up to the surface. No connection to the surface was however obvious and no strong draft felt, although a draft was felt throughout most of the mine. The passage led on to the end of the workings. Our steps were retraced at a leisurely rate discussing the health benefits of sugared plums and a short stop prompted an attempt at some Turner Prize winning sculpture.
Upon exiting the mine, a return route to confirm the entrances location relative to a nearby field boundary was proposed and we trooped upwards following the route of a stream. The return route allowed a brief stop to examine some interesting hillocks and a ginged shaft in the nearby fields. A carefully selected route picked through an area of sodden ground was successfully negotiated without anyone losing a boot, as had befell the leader during his recce. After a brief paddle and inspection of the rusting pipework at Dunsley Springs, we were soon all heading downhill, over a wall and into a small valley containing Dunsley Springs Level.
A wide entrance led to a short but impressive section of gour pools, flowstone and embryonic curtains, dogteeth and short straws, after carefully negotiating the delicate floor and admiring the flowstone on the walls. The passage cuts through the lower lava/toadstone becoming drier and without decoration. Some ornate handwritten pencil graffiti was observed on the wall of the passage covered by a thin veneer of flowstone. The passage follows the route of the Yule Cheese Vein and heads generally towards the northwest. Not far from the entrance the passage splits either side of a large lozenge shaped pillar, the passage was followed to its termination after about 300m. A short descent through the woods took us back to the cars and then onwards to Whatstandwell for a brew, a chat and baked delicacies.