Coniston Stone Mine, Lake District
November 11, 2015
Meeting point Junction 36, M6. Parked one car, set off for Coniston high car park on the The Old Man of Coniston. Changed into walking attire plus ropes, helmet and abseiling gear: it was to be a pull-through trip. Middle level entrance point of entry which lies at bottom of spoil scree slope, approx. 700m above sea level. A frozen 45 degree slide through icicles somewhat like an iron maiden on its side.
This obstacle passed we could stand up and enjoy the large chambers connected by galleries, train tracks still in place. There are several such levels higher. We selected to drop a level which would present us with an abseil into a large impressive chamber with several tracks to follow. Jane went first on single rope, I followed on double rope. Successfully pulled through and bagged, we set off along main track to daylight – our exit. I have done this before and in winter it is not uncommon to reach the exit and be welcomed by a metre thick wall of ice causing all sorts of problems. Climbing back up the abseil on this occasion, the ice was on the floors and large icicles some forming columns caused a fine array of art.
Exiting the level the evening sunset was spectacular over Coniston Water several hundred metres below. We made steady progress down through the snow to Low Water Tarn and the main track back to the car. We though it wise to change at Junction 36. It was dark by now and below freezing the top car park is renowned for the very steep road to access it making descending in freezing ice problematic.
Once back at Junction 36 and the second car we had a short break for a health snack of camomile tea and fruit which Jane provided. Jane set off for Skipton, myself south down the M6 for Manchester.
Great day and great trip.