Larry and I met for a pre-trip trip to Neptune Mine. We parked on the road to Wardlow and walked down Cressbrook Dale past Wardlow Sough to the opening. We attached a rope to the gate to help us on the way out.
I had been in a couple of times and on both occasions the squeeze just at the bottom of the access pipe proved to be a bit tight, this time was no exception as my belt snagged on a rock and I had to push myself up to release it. On these other occasions I had always been put off by, and turned back at, the vertiginous chasm or rather the decidedly dodgy looking bridge across it. This time however we had cow tails and our own rope. It was an easy crossing with this extra PPE. (ed- no shortage of PPE in Masson)
We explored the main passage crossing two other quite awkward shafts (ed- and dangerous, we’ll take a hand-line next time) which required some careful foot placement. We noticed three levels which intersected this but as time was pressing, we decided to leave these for another day.
I marvelled (not for the first time) at the fact that people had once worked in this extremely confined space. There were few places where we could stand up fully and for most of the length the passage was not wide enough to accommodate a shoulders’ width. A final rise led to the forefield of this main passage.
After a brief rest we made our way back. The shafts I had picked my way over were going proved to be a bit more difficult on the way back due to the slopes down to them, the fact my glasses had steamed up and my short legs! Luckily I had my cows tails which Larry pulled on to help me over.
While Larry was de-rigging, I managed to squeeze myself through to the access pipe and we eventually man-handled the bags out of the mine. A longer rope for the entrance is definitely called for next time!
We then walked down to Wardlow Sough and waited for Paul and Andy to arrive. Little did I know that this was only a precursor to the madness that would follow…