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Hard Level Gill Mine, Swaledale

kay

Well-known member
Has anyone been in here? (the mine, not the cave). A friend of mine has been told it is a good trip and is looking for more information
 

Cavegod

New member
ive been in and its wet!! very wet over knee deep nearly all the way and gets deeper in places and its cold!! but theer are some nice mineral deposits.
 

chasroberts

New member
Hi,

It's been a couple of years since I was there (as part of a survey with Northern Mines Research Group) but it's a good trip with much potential. Water levels vary but it's rarely over knee deep (weather on top dependent of course). About a third of the way along the level, if memory serves, a collapse from an airshaft forces the explorer to lay out flat and wriggle beneath the boulders on the right hand side. It appeared then as stable as piles of boulders are, but you'd obviously want to get through without touching anything.

This small obstacle defeated, progression up the passage way is easy going, arriving at a picturesque stone arched junction. From here passages raidiate off an doubtless much fun can be had exploring.

You'll have noted the remains of the smelt mill a little way downstream of Hard Level - Old Gang. According to Arther Raistrick (The Mines & Smeltmills of Swaledale & Wensleydale - Vol 1, the mines), ready for smelting ore produced on the dressing floors adjacent to Sir Francis Level in Gunnerside Gill was taken up the valley and into through Bunton Level where it was trammed through the hill to exit via Hard Level and taken to the Old Gang Mill for smelting. Whether that route is still open, I know not, but it could be fun finding out.

There are few sources for the mining remains of Swaledale and apparently fewer surveys. Some information canbe found in Raistrick's books (mentioned above); Mike Gills, The Mines and Smeltmills of Swaledale and John Hardy's The Hidden Side of Swaledale. Rather unhelpfully all are now out of print and difficult to come by.
 

kay

Well-known member
Many thanks.

I've also been pointed (thanks, Ged) to the 1991 Bulletin of the BPC which has a very full article by Ged Benn of the through trip to Brandy Bottle - at that time the water seems to have been deeper, chest level at least
 
Hi,
The reply above is still pretty much valid. I did the through-trip from randy bottle towards the back-end of last year. The flat-out squeeze at the collapse in Hard Level is still open. Have seen much looser things but it depends on your definition of loose. I've seen largish fish swimming in the main level, sometimes a good 100m from the entrance. You shouldn't get lost in the Hard Gill level, although the connection to Brandy Bottle is not obvious from either direction. Brandy Bottle has a section of deep water for about 100ft with about 1ft airspace when stood/floating upright - excellent.
Get someone who knows the throughtrip, no need for ropes/ladders etc. fantastic.
 

Getwet

New member
Finally got round to paying a visit, on a very wet day. The trip was very wet, and we turned back shortly after a low passage with about 1 ft air space, not sure if water levels were still rising or not, so played safe.

The mine entrance is not quite as indicated on the map link above, unless we were in the wrong one of course!

Follow the track up, past a building on the left, and another on the right near another entrance(which collapses after few hundred yards) just pass these buildings is a pipe bridge under the road, cross this and then immediately on the left between the beck and the bank is the entrance with a stream flowing out.
 
Your description sounds as if you were in the right place. Did you get beyond the squeeze round the right-hand side of the collapse? Water could back up here and make things awkward, but there shouldn't be any problem before this. Worse case scenario in flood conditions = you get an alton towers trip back to the entrance. If water levels were too high you probably wouldn't be able to walk against the flow.
 

Getwet

New member
Yes we passed the squeeze at the right side of a collapse, that was fairly early on. We then came a lower section of fairly narrow passage where there was less than 2 ft of air space (neck deep with helmet touching the roof). Just past this there was a climb up on the left to a rather unusual rising passage at about 30 degrees angle, it seemed to go on for a while, but we didn't follow it to the end. It was at this point we turned back, were not sure if the water levels were rising, I suspect they were as it was still hissing down outside when we got out, also we were not sure if this section backs up and floods or if it just flows harder, difficult to tell.

Will have another look one day when its dryer and warmer, the water was very cold, but then it probably was partly snow melt!
 

AndyF

New member
You should also go to Sir Francis level if going to Hard Level. Its a better though wetter trip as it has a full water pressure engine with cages and winding gear at the end. Brilliant trip, though idally a wetsuit job...

Andy
 

JAA

Active member
Sounds to me like you may well have been at the foot of the Brandy Bottle incline. Were there 2 or 3 old tubs knockin about?? I'm local to Swaledale so if anyone would like a trip through at somepoint drop me a PM
 

Getwet

New member
No we didn't see any old tubs. I only went up the "30 deg incline passage" for about 50 yards. This incline was the first side passage we had seen since the entrance, and it was entered via a small climb upon the left side as we headed in. Thanks for the offer of a through trip guide, will give you a pm sometime.

Yes Sir Francis is certainly worth a trip, the engine house is good. is there anything of interest beyond?
 

Getwet

New member
I had heard it went "on and on" but is there anything of interest? or is it similar to the passage to get to the engine house which I have to say I found fairly uninteresting
 
It was similar but wetter and more dilapidated. Some nice formations & interesting bits in alcoves. Having got to the engine house I enjoyed going on...
(At one point we'd edged along a rail to keep a bit out of the water & had just started to muse how deep the water really was when it 'dropped' to our relief not far..)
 

nsandersen

New member
Some information canbe found in Raistrick's books (mentioned above); Mike Gills, The Mines and Smeltmills of Swaledale and John Hardy's The Hidden Side of Swaledale. Rather unhelpfully all are now out of print and difficult to come by.
Old thread, but just wondered if anyone wanted my copy of John Hardy's book?
I am about to emigrate and short on space.
 
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