Intake Dale Mine

Discussions following on from the Bradwell Catchment Symposium and after reading reports from the 80's of natural rift and chambers, EPC members have re-descended Intake Dale Mine and embarked on exploring it further.

 Intake Dale Main Chamber


With Lukey-boy out of action it was up to Team B-some to take in the slack and drag scaffolding down in to the depths of Intake Dale Mine to start a new project which had been found when Intake was re-explored a couple of years back by the Eldon. It got the name Black Jack Choke from Luke's choice of Vape for the evening being Black Jack flavoured which was worth its weight in Galena testing for draughts in the choke.

We had a usual pre-beer in the layby and hastily kitted up for the walk down to the mine. Jeff was feeling a bit woozy after just giving blood so was taking the trip steady. Rob and Dave were carrying the majority of the gear required leaving me the awkward bit of scaffolding with only one clip.

Intake Dale Mine (IDM) although very short takes a while to descend and ascend due to it being split into two pitches with lots of hanging death all around. Once the majority of the group were stationed just above the small climber which leads down to Brexit Rift and the big natural Black Jack Choke can be found by traversing at roof level over the hole down to the climber and thrutching into a small constriction which leads to a fairly pleasant natural chamber some 3x3 metres. The camber has a small back filled bedding on the left with the boulder choke being straight on. Although the draught in the choke was not present this evening we made a decision to make progress to the right had side of the choke where Rob had remembered the draught to get sucked in to and also a some sections which are calcified. A little poke followed by the placing of a couple pieces of scaff pinned to the "alright but not Bomber" walls.

Jeff in the passage approaching the choke

At this point we were already biting into pub time so Jeff and I started out whilst Rob and Dave removed a few more boulders. All safe on surface we retreated to The Star for a guaranteed pint to discuss pressing issues such as nugget porn and pegging and left just before the dawn of a new day. A big thanks to Mark Noble for supplying us with Scaffolding, Cheers!

Rob admiring his pile of scaff in front of the Black Jack Choke

During 2016 Intake Dale Mine was rigged, made safe(r), explored and surveyed. It is a fascinating old mine which follows an irregular vein to a depth of 55m via 3 pitches and some narrow rift climbs. Here the rifts turn natural and roughly 100m of high rifts and large natural cavities lead off to the East and North, seemingly untouched by T’owd man at all. 

Sam in Rift, by Rob Eavis

Sam led a number of bolt climbing trips near the bottom, including a roof traverse along the main rift and a climb up at the back of a large cross rift. Unfortunately none of these efforts revealed much passage. 

Meanwhile Rob and Luke started work on the upstream boulder choke. This vertical choke feature can be reached at four places in the system and all of them draught strongly at times, suggesting the existence of a continuation to the west heading up the dale. Plus the draught direction agrees it’s coming from a higher entrance. The lowest point was chosen as this was closest to the natural passages, and after four trips enough scaffold had been chucked in to yield a breakthrough into a new cross rift. This was on the evening of the referendum hence the name Brexit Rift, particularly apt with the team members voting different ways. This rift unfortunately was not the source of the draught and met a solid end after only 10m, so it seems a route further into the choke will need to be engineered. 

Sam in Brexit Rift

Two years on, I returned with Sam and Luke this Thursday for a pre-pub refresher to take advantage of the cold evenings to check the draught (but mostly because I wanted my crowbar back). This was a good excuse for Sam to quite literally dust the cobwebs off after nearly a year of avoiding caving. 

The entrance pitches were dry and strongly draughting inwards, and soon we were down at the choke again. I’d forgotten my disco smoke so Luke valiantly lent the team his vape thingy, this week fragrantly instilled with BlackJack flavour to reinforce his sexuality. The air cleared but the draught was not strong and if anything it was being driven more by our body heat than the cave. We surveyed through to Brexit Rift and familiarised ourselves with the options and challenges, whilst Sam became increasingly unhappy with all the hanging death (even though there’s loads more scaffold than when we originally went through!). 


Remembering my trusty crowbar we headed out, although it wasn’t long before a stronger draught was met and we spread out to try to follow it. The best route (my one) led through a tight rift into the second highest boulder choked passage and the draught was very strong, although making progress here would be a brave undertaking. 

Back on the pitches up Sam strengthened his rusty status by putting his foot jammer on the wrong side of the wrong foot, but made up for it by openly admitting to it allowing us to berate as necessary. 

So, fired up after the Bradwell Catchment Symposium about the potential hydrological connection between the back end of the Castleton catchment, Eldon Hill Dolines etc and Bradwell Dale (along the line of Hartledale)

I spoke to Tpot at the meeting about Intake Dale mine, and asked him to show me exactly where it is on a map.  Always seemed to me to be right in the middle of a vast area which must take some sort of catchment, yet with no known cave.

I'd heard about Intake Dale from several folks, JT, Tpot, etc.  

"You been down that mine in Intake Dale"


"Ben/Tony/Tpot went down it, draughting like mad, but really loose, quite a bit of natural down there apparently".

Well it was always enough to put me off... the fact that Tpot/Ben/Tony thought it was loose and hadn't really pushed in there meant it really must have been very very loose!. 

It took an email from Adam Russell, to act as the catalyst to launch me back into action.

Adam said he'd walked along Shuttle Rake and found what looked to be an open mine entrance...

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