Hartle Dale Bottom Mine

TAP & Sam this evening.

Finished off the job this evening, completing HDBM. Met early and after a quick pre-beer headed off underground. The floor to the natural level (-38m) was collapsing under our weight this evening, glad we didn't have ropes below. Rob started the survey whilst we headed up towards the Natural cavern, Sam redeeming himself by finding the long lost spit from T-Pot's escapade (perhaps?) Rob headed up above the natural surveying efficiently by himself Whilst we took photos around the natural cross rift. We met again to get a photo of the picked out section. Sam and I started the return journey whilst Rob managed to free-climb into the question mark level which was above us last week but to no avail.

Sam in the natural (JonP)
Sam tackling the climb (JonP)

A final few snaps before a lovely swing out after the de-rig. Back to surface in daylight for a change! Ropes pulled out and sleeper put back in place. Debrief in the Anchor.   

Sam losing the will to live (JonP)
Survey here:

TAP – Rob & Jon

A silly early start, Easter holidays, plus a list of poor objectives meant it was just the two of us tonight. However we (TAP) normally make things happen, and tonight was no exception.

Pre-beers preceded a quick abseil to the bottom to derig the lower section and have a look at two last leads. Jon descended a small tube right at the bottom of the Engine which Joe had previously investigated but due to its location and the possibility of it bypassing the Engine blockage, he figured it warranted another look. Unfortunately it did exactly what Joe had described and so Joe’s judgement was temporarily put a notch higher (more on the fall later).

Meanwhile I swung into a level 5m higher heading East which had not been previously entered. After 7m a flatout squeeze lead down into a well stacked, stooping level and I got a little excited. Unfortunately this closed down after a further 10m. Rubbish. These were the two best remaining leads and we were now worried we’d be at the pub before the diners!

The last lead to poke was about 30m down from the surface, a short traverse which Joe and SamP had bolted into a few weeks back. Their description was that it led into a tall worked rift with a reyt dodge floor, but it may be worth another look. Whilst Jon started the derigging I bombed up and went for a gander. Oh my, the hand pickwork was epic, some of the best I’ve ever seen. I shout to Jon to defs come have a look. After squeezing under a big boulder, a short crossrift cum pipe vein led into the main rift and indeed the floor was pretty awful in places. However, as a founding member of TA I have to poke everything and even a few small collapses around me didn’t put me off this core objective.

Unfortunately my fight was fruitless and I began my solo survey back. This was made humorously poor quality with the lack of a distoX so I was guessing lengths and clino whilst using my phone compass. Back at the boulder squeeze Jon finally joined me so we took a few phone snaps then had a look at a potential route up above the boulder. The rift vein was tall and narrow here so it was easy to climb up to an alluring tube heading North about 7m up. This turned out to be natural with a few stal lining the walls. It closed up quick but I had a bold headfirst dive down into a very tight squeeze to ensure it didn’t go. Thankfully the end was “just” big enough to turn around and allow a head first scramble out.


Jon coming through the squeeze under the boulder, by RobE


Rob struggling out of the natural tube, by JonP

With our cave radars now fully on Jon continued to climb the rift higher whilst I cowered out of danger. His echoing hollers raised enthusiasm and I quickly stop with the crappy surveying and join him, now at the junction to an amazing section of natural cave. Here a large natural cross rift heads both ways. Looks like TAP might have hit another jackpot!

First we head North, passed some paste-like flowstone and down a small drop and into a much larger rift cavern, roughly 10m long, 6m high and 3m wide. Shattered breakdown riddle the floor in a very Bagshawe-esq scene but unfortunately there is no obvious continuation from here. After a few photos we head back to the junction, where we find an old electric headlamp, possibly 1970’s era? Could this be from the Eldon’s original exploration of this place? If so, what story lead to one of them leaving their light here?!


Jon thrutching up the rift, by RobE


Jon in the big natural chamber, by RobE


Jon with an old caplamp

To the South the rift continues and quickly exudes a strange feel of actual, proper cave, with muddy puddles and crawling about. We weren’t prepared for this and had to readjust our mindset slightly before continuing. Numerous ways lead off in all directions and we split up to go bagging. None of the leads are big but they are certainly interesting. In places it looks like the miners actually dug through the sediment fill to explore veins beyond. The first recorded cave diggers?!? Jon’s artifact finding was in top notch form, including bagging a King George V penny coin. Again, what is this doing down here?! We explore a few more loops of passage and eventually make our way back to the main junction.


Old coin, probably not Roman as initially presumed

With this section of natural complete we continue the main rift climb, going up even higher. Some of the pick work up here is incredible and offers great elbow friction as we thrutch our ways up. At the furthest Western side I reach a flat slabbed roof with a plastic drainage pipe poking through. This must be at about road level here and may well indicate the route in that the first cavers entered.

Meanwhile Jon found more ways off to the East so I go meet up with him. He picked a route down whilst I continued across which led through a series of drops and airy traverses to a slope going back on myself. Following this down I ended up at a ledge overlooking the Engine shaft, from the Eastern side! From here I could just about speak with Jon across the shaft and we each had no idea how this was possible nor where we were in relation to each other. Unfortunately my SRT kit was back at the original traverse, ~15m lower, so I was forced to now retrace my steps, all the while maintaining verbal comms with Jon to try work out where we each were.

Back together we had a final, fruitless foray at trying to climb up into a tantilising level that was obviously a bolt climb, then dejectedly leave and retrace our thrutches all the way down to our SRT gear. Finishing the main rope derigging on our way up the engine, we surface at a bonkersly early 20:30 ready to enjoy a few well deserved beverages and try decipher all we just explored.



Team A: Rob and Fabian, Team B: Jon and Jim


It felt like years ago that I was able to par-take in another Team Awesome episode of: ‘Let’s explore some stuff, climb some sketchy stuff and push some boundaries!’

Whilst enjoying the ritualistic pre-trip beer, it was great to catch up with Jon and Jim and hearing of the latest developments in Bagshawe which just keeps reminding me that I need to go back and explore the gated sections a little further.

With the plan laid out that Rob and myself would be descending the pitch past the second re-belay and swing into a side passage where Jon and Rob recently discovered a stemple ladder pitch into the unknown. Jon and Jim would follow not far behind but explore two other side passages which required a gutsy swing from the main engine shaft into their destinations.

Getting my usual ‘pre-trip safety brief’ from Rob which usually includes things like: “touch this and you will die”, “rest your foot there and you will kill me” as well as “drop this and we will all die!” I felt somewhat prepared to drop the 70ish meters to the side passage we tried to explore further. Following some re-belay navigation I quickly approached Rob who was waiting for me to join him in said side passage.

Swinging from the main shaft into the side passage

Fabian swinging into the level off the engine, photo by RobE

We quickly ascended the rope they left last week and prepared for the climb up the stemple way. Rob placed one bolt for his Etrier allowing him to get into a better starting position to climb this rift. With rope and bolting kit being hauled aloft he swiftly placed some further bolts allowing me to continue to follow. Two ways on to explore we chose the left… Only to be met with a solid wall with what seemed like failed drill holes. However, there were some amazing examples of miner’s footprints which we found in this passage.

Onwards to the right I free-climbed a little 3m pack wall and entered a rather large chamber with three stemples spanning across. A little window on the right with ore type boulders made us wonder if we found an ore chute? A little further up we found what looked like remnants of a sieve (riddle) which was an amazing find.

Fabian in a new chamber, photo by RobE

An old miner's riddle, photo by RobE

I continued along a sloped climb and was met with a nicely packed shaft reaching at least 10-15m up. Another free-climb for Rob. We applied the same method, Rob would climb, place the bolts, I follow. This time however we introduced a little added surprise by having a melon size boulder drop from the shaft to within inches of my feet… a “Sorry!” echoed down from the heights… I suppose if you explore you need to be on your guard!

Fabian exploring one of the blind side passages, photo by RobE

I met Rob at the top of the pitch and both of us immediately felt deflated. Two ways on, both ways blocked. We tried to move some sand and boulders out the way, but it was not meant to be. We re-organised and following a quick introduction into Surveying we continued back whilst taking measurements of the passages and shafts as we went along.

Fabian climbing up the final pitch, photo by RobE

Fabian surveying down, photo by RobE

Rob de-rigged all pitches leaving only the bolts in situ which was done in as much speed as we took to get there in the first place. I waited patiently at the bottom of the last pitch to pass on some Haribo. I thought we’d need some energy before ascending the engine shaft.

Whilst exiting the shaft I remembered NOT to place my feet anywhere or I would dislodge some ginging which required some upper body strength and technique to get yourself back out of the shaft. Rob made it look a lot easier… but then again, he has done this trip a few times.

Following a quick change, we met the other Team in the Anchor Inn for post-trip beers where we discovered on the Survey that we were only 14m from the surface. However, knowing that both ways on didn’t look promising we were happy that this chapter is for now closed.


Just Rob and I (TAP) after a severe drop in numbers throughout the day. Whilst Team Average we’re fettling away down Baggers, TAP continued exploration in HDM.

Having mastered opening the lid (Luke and his kitten arm strength deemed surplus) we made quick progress down to the chain ladder with little faff other than me double checking id put me rack on reyt. Rob abseiled down a short way to place a bolt which led us straight into the Pipe Cavern which He and Dylan explored last week. Once both down and a short traverse line in place Rob gave me the guided tour whilst I pointed out obvious things which they’d both missed. Rob pointed me in the direction of the draughting ore chute. As I was already in place I agreed to go have a look.

Rob in the Pipe Cavern, JRP

As with many old mines in the Peak, ore chutes had to be pretty robust to serve their purpose (chucking lead/tailings from one level to a lower level) they’re quite small in diameter and not really meant for human travel and nowadays tend to be in various states of collapse. This ore chute was approx. 80cm x 60cm with only one solid wall, the remaining 3 being stacked ‘deads’. Rob had shot a splay up the shaft whilst surveying last week and thought it was about 8m high. Climbing was easy going but I took the ascent with care as one wrong foot placement could’ve brought the whole place crashing down around me, entombing me in the process. About halfway up I met an overhang and was greeted by much cleaner rock above, this made climbing easier but it also gave depth to the stacking as I could in between the gaps of each rock. By now I was over half way and could see the top, I poked my head above hoping to see a level disappearing off but unfortunately was greeted by a nasty looking collapse up a 50 degree slope. To my left (east) the level headed down at a similar steep slope to a short hand picked section. I had to make an awkward manoeuvre to get my legs out of the shaft and into this whilst trying not to touch anything as the roof was heavily fractured too, the whole place seemed rather suspect and I was now regretting having offered to check it out first. I lowered my legs down the slope which I pushed for 2 body lengths (now flat out!) At the base the hand picked section dropped vertical for 2m and ended in a collapse. Now I was surrounded by loose stuff and felt very uneasy in my surroundings, my thoughts being this could easily be someone’s worst nightmare!

With the lead now dead I made my way back to the top of the shaft and shouted the bad news to Rob. I hastily made my way back down as some rubble started to collapse in from above. Relieved to be out, Rob checked the next question mark a climb down into a lower level which ended at a forefield. Back in the Pipe Cavern the next lead was a tasty looking solid shaft approx. 6m high, about 1.2m diameter and lined with stemples. Rob made a bold back and foot up this carrying the end of the rope in his mouth and once safely at the top I clipped his harness and bolting gear to the bottom. He rigged a hang and I followed up on the rope. At the top a short crosscut containing a rabbit skeleton led through to a tall worked out rift, a stemple ladder-way led off in the roof to a small but enticing looking hole above. This would definitely need a bolt or two so it was here we turned around and took our time taking some snaps on the way out.

Rob in the Internal Shaft, JRP

Post beers in The Anchor catching up on some average antics.

Rob in the Pipe Cavern, JRP

Rob E, Dylan K, Joe B, and Sam P 16/03/23

What is HDM?

A question I held on to. Rather than reading the previous trip report from Jon Luke and Rob, I decided to stay naive to the whole ordeal of the Thursday night trip. Turns out HDM is a unique and amazing mine underappreciated in all best of ways. After picking rob up with the mood high we arrive at the layby to be greeted by Sam and then Joe. All Suited and Booted. The goal for tonight was set out with the following. Survey the mine shaft and bolt traverse/climb up to various levels perpendicular to explore and find any more offshoots. Making our way to the lid I realize it’s not a lid in nature at all but rather a Tomb. Huge Concrete sleepers hold sentry to the 70m Shaft below. With four bodies wrestling whilst using the magical power of the crowbar and leverage, we are granted access. With a sling tied around the sleeper with a safety line, Rob lowers himself into the shaft to find that the sling was never secured properly and thus with some Team Awesome acrobatics pins himself over the 70m drop arm wrapped around the not-so-safe safety line and re clips the sling! But you didn’t come out tonight because you wanted to be safe.

Looking down the engine shaft

With Rob on his way to the Chain ladder ledge about 50m below we hear rope free and send the next man Sam down. Joe and I just chat away as I wait for the next call.  As I lower myself onto the rope, I'm greeted with a precarious at best arch somewhat waiting to collapse on whoever/whatever is below. So, without touching it I carry on down. The Shaft is all built around a main slab of stone that from its amazing pick marks resembles a neolithic ruin stone perhaps, just a couple of stories high. Although its story is one of sweat and Lead as the miners ran their picks down a line of ore striking with amazing accuracy and creating long clawed grooves against the rock. From my experiences, this is one of the most vivid examples of this pick work. A well-worth sight for anyone willing. Passing the rebelay I come to a ledge about a meter away from the middle of the shaft and use the traverse line to exit the pitch. On the level, a great Chain Link ladder is hung over a stemple. Truly one-of-a-kind sight that can be seen on Jon Pemberton’s Trip report of “Three and a half men”. Reaching a fine Planning ground, we wait for Joe whilst I drink from a lovely rock fountain. With all of us together, we decide that Joe and Sam can bolt climb around while Rob and I survey the workings below. Off I jump back on the pitch and descend 20m further to a slope veering off into more passage at the bottom workings of the mine. 

With Rob at the top of the pitch, we initiate our surveying adventure by marking the first leg. Too bad we messed up and then had to get it on the way out. This actually worked out better though. Just enough water to cause slight discomfort I was pleased to see Rob and continue our survey into a known section of mine at an offshoot of the slope into a Slab roof passage. Continuing down this section you arrive at a fun little chamber with an ore shoot into the ceiling held together by stemples to the left of the ceiling when walking In as well as a continuing passage straight on that makes for a round trip connecting to a lower section coming into the room 90 degrees right of the continuation. We go for the survey of the small round trip to tick it off. After surveying the room, we move forward into a junction that is filled with spoil only allowing for a right turn. Now looking back, I get a good visual of the structural integrity of the passage and it does not look good to say the least. This however does not mean it lacks in the level of coolness the miner had in mind when building it. “Sometimes best not to think about it” Rob light-heartedly says. This a perfect description of our mindset in the events to come. Arriving at another junction there is a pit to the lower left and then a continuation straight ahead. I decide to free-climb down the pit to find it is a dead end. Sand starts to shift in from the walls onto my legs. We both chuckle and then I give a go to free climb out. Now more sand from the walls dislodges itself and closes in. I laugh again not yet feeling the danger this really could pose in hindsight burying me in. At this point, Rob above me states “Mabey you should get out of there” Then “Climb Climb Climb!”. I jump on the walls and pedal my legs against it reaching the lip as now the walls are really sliding in. I have escaped the Sand Pit of Doom and if anyone else wants to play it's down there waiting as if it is a Venus flytrap. Reaching the small chamber, we connect the round trip and decide not to journey further down as from experience Rob knows it is not worth it.

Dylan climbing into the unknown - by RobE

Now back in the main lower junction the plan if there had been one might have been to survey back out and see if Sam and Joe had found anything interesting. Although I already have. I state that I'm going to climb up the ore shoot as it looks enticing. Slowly and proud to say methodically I ascend the boulders that are held up by stemples realizing that it opens up above me I tell rob that this is a great lead and definitely should follow up and survey above. Reaching the top you enter a chamber filled with clogged footprints from the miners with a section of ceiling held up with stemples that are magnificently strained and bent from bearing the weight above. Rob Ascends behind me into what Is Dubious at best. Dare I even say that? Without caution, it will fall and so will you about 5-7m back where you came from. A two-person-sized hauling chamber then leads to an opening in the roof. As I climbed through, I was ecstatic and now knew we were in uncharted territory a big chamber with a passage to the left and two ways on the right.