I collected the keys from Paul, then another from the shop in Ashford and sat down to a very good brekky in the Aisseford Tea Rooms where I was joined by Sean and James.
The group of 8 assembled in the car park and we were ready to go for a short walk to our first mine of the day. We had a quick look at the barred lower entrance of the Rookery Mine then gained entry, after some trouble with the key and gate, splitting into two groups with Sean leading the other group into the 1st and 2nd level
You’re immediately struck by how roomy the place is and, in the first passage going downhill, (the Dook, see survey) we soon found some good black marble and some fossils on the left.
This was a great group and the info sent before the trip helped everyone participate in the trip and the navigation with the surveys provided.
The formations in the “Arena” are excellent (see pics). Most people tackled the optional ‘Crawl over Rubble’ and the ‘Squeeze’ that was a 3ft crawl.
In the far working face while examining graffiti, much of it from Edwardian times, we encountered a bat that flew around for a while.
On the way out, we explored the 1st and 2nd levels coming close to the surface and seeing a working face.
We then had a short walk to Arrock Black Marble Mine, it has a similarly barred second entrance
On entering you soon realise this is a very different place to the Rookery, lower and with rotten timbers “supporting” the roof and walls, with run ins and collapses common throughout.
What makes it good is the surprising navigation with little right-hand crawls leading into passages and the way on. The round trip is blocked by collapses and taped off but you can easily find both ends.
Angela led us back towards the entrance where Dave was the only one that dared the flat-out crawl under rotten timbers (A on the survey) that doubled back to a voice connection behind the stacked deads (that seemed much closer than shown on the survey).
The short walk back to the car park was followed by refreshments at the Bull’s Head, Ashford, then by a great Masson meeting at the Miner’s, Winster.
Ashford Black Marble is definitely well worth a visit, unique and fascinating, while Arrock made a good addition to a grand day out/in and the whole thing was made superb by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group.
Persons on the trip me, Sean, James, Andy, Dave, Ian, Angela, Mick