Bradwell Moor


The remote hills above Bradwell hide probably hundreds of old lead mines. The Eldon have an interest in a few and had some great successes already.



Luke working away so just the two of us. I completed the climber climb with the protection of a few bolts, but this unfortunately ended in a choke just 7m shy of a level we’d spotted heading off the main shaft in this general direction. If this connection could be forced, it would offer a dry route down into the lower workings.

We then continued the survey along the cartgate, up and over the collapses. Jon did what he does best and collapsed a route through the choke at the end to allow further exploration. Strangely this soon took a sharp turn right before ending in a forefield. This point is 6m higher than the start of the cartgate, so maybe a route continues to the East somewhere below? Either way, for now the exploration at the bottom has finished, and attention will now be turned towards the levels higher up…




Section (facing North)

The Team returned the next week, surveying as we went. Luke was on book for his first time, on essential pre-Mulu training. A 50m tape was used for the shaft, with measurements taken every 10m, plus wherever anything else goes off. 36.6m to the (surprisingly well placed) rebelay and a further 37m to the inlet passage. The shaft top is an excellent example of ginging to a depth of 25m! It must have been a very deep open rake at one point. A further 26.8m abseil to the shaft bottom makes it 100.4m in all.

Surveying SW first, it wasn’t long before Jon sneaked a bold route through the collapse into a continuation. Straight on led eventually to the anticipated next collapse, this time even too dodgy for Jon. He completed a committing climb up in the roof into a higher level, again with plenty of draughts off but nothing open, and so concluding the area. This parallel vein certainly has more secrets to deliver in the future.

We took a few legs along the cartgate then turned about just making the pub.

It started in 2011 when we heard of a +100m deep mineshaft on Bradwell Moor with a waterfall near the bottom which had prevented previous exploration. Ready for some adventure Jim, Katie and I had a few trips and found that there was plenty to go at. Water levels were average and the wet descent, or more memorably the prussic, was pretty hardcore. However landowner concerns plus worsening weather encouraged us elsewhere and it was reluctantly added to the “to do later” list.

Later came after 5 years, when our appetite for adventure once again grew. Eased by the hangers all still in place and in good condition, me n Luke rerigged the place ready for a first pushing trip with me n Henry the following week. We went prepared, myself with a baseball cap under my helmet and Henry with a 30cm hose to use as a snorkel! In the end the water levels were much lower and the descent was unpleasant but not dangerous. It’d be awesome in winter!

In the small chamber you land in three ways lead off, all which we’d left wide open. SW ended in a worked out vein which required bolts to get down. After minimal rigging unfortunately all ways closed off quickly in some very small, dry workings. Here we are nearly 10m below the static water at the bottom of the main shaft, so obviously there’s more drainage below, somewhere.

A small side passage to the South leads to a parallel vein with a strong draught disappearing into multiple teetering piles of death. It seems all the rubbish rock was stacked on-top of timbers, most of which have now rotted away. A few further side passages lead nowhere fast, and we headed back to the main shaft. South leads to the bottom of a climbing shaft, also taking a small draught. Freeclimbing up, ferreting through the old timbers, got us a little way but the next bit was too necky for now.

The last way on is to the East, where a small section of backfilled passage makes you crawl through against the roof, to soon drop into a nice walking sized cartgate. Just as this gets going it too reaches a collapse, so the only route is up and over. The rocks here are extremely loose but as you’re mostly on top of it all you end up mostly surfing your way along. The final collapse had a small route down the back, but no draught ensured I retreated.

Blocks above the Cartgate

Back up the main shaft a little way, the water issues from a passage that has many natural elements around it. It continues in a strange zigzag fashion for ~30m before it reaches a probably-mined blockage. The water issues from a small crack at the bottom. This is a good lead for the future, I think.

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