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Report - Box Freestone Quarry, Wiltshire - December '12

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by Xan_Asmodi, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Xan_Asmodi

    Xan_Asmodi Cave Monster
    Regular User

    Feb 18, 2011
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    Visited with The Kwan, CunningCorgi, Landsker, Wonky, Seffy, WhoDaresWins, SarahSaw, Oxygen Thief, Styru, Urbanjunky, Tommo, Phyllis Neptune and Tucker (and breathe!)

    Leaving the Wirral at about 7pm on Friday, we arrived in a South Wales valley close to midnight, the entire trip being done under the cover of darkness. Our gracious host took us in from the cold, feeding us beer whilst catching up then left us in sleeping bags to sleep before the early start in the morning.

    Half five the next morning after a fitful nights sleep, we awoke, had coffee and packed our sleeping bags before the six am drive to Box. Making our way through the Welsh and English countryside, I was overwhelmed at what I couldn't see. Miles and miles of what I'm guessing was glorious rolling hills and lush green fields went unseen, until we arrived in Wiltshire. Creeping along the A4 through what appear to be old quarrying villages, Freestone seemed to be the de facto building material and it's not hard to understand why.

    The area under Box and the surrounding have been mined for Freestone haphazardly since medieval times, but not until some guy called Isambard Kingdom Brunel came driving a tunnel for the new fangled steam trains in 1841. The quarry grew over the next 118 years, being worked by various companies until closing in 1969. The MOD are in the area underground too.

    I really didn't take as many pictures as I'd like, but I present what I did take for your delectation. :)

    Having left OT, Sytru and Ms. Saw in the car park of the local pub, waiting for the London lads, we went in via Back Door to Cathedral. With the sun having only risen about an hour previous, the light coming through the shaft wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped; unfortunate. We had arranged to meet the rest of the expedition in Cathedral at midday, so we went wandering!

    A few of the gang gathered round crane 1

    Crane 1

    We then moved onto the next crane. Via several hairy collapses.
    Crane number two

    We then went to see the crab winch.


    From here we decided to head back to Cathedral for our midday appointment with OT, Styru, SarahSaw et al. Well, we hung around, took some photos and had a bite and a drink. Our allotted meeting time came and went. No OT, no Styru, no SarahSaw or even et al. :) We waited. We drank. We chatted. We heard voices and saw lights. Still none of the above, but we met Montstar, snapalittle and one of their friends. They said hi, we made introductions and they disappeared over the back of Cathedral.



    Come 1pm we decided to press on and followed them over the back of Cathedral. At this point we were face with a classic decision; left or right? DangerousDave and The Kwan went to check the dodgiest little crack in the rock in the right whilst CunningCorgi hoped down into the left hand hole. So we waited. After a while we heard CunningCorgi talking and then Tommo popped up from the hole. Looks like we've found our direction! Those up top proceed down into the passage from which Tommo had emerged. There we finally caught up with the gang. Most of us took the opportunity to rest.

    From above we heard commotion. Long story short, DangerousDave had got caught, requiring The Kwan to retrieve him and his pants (they abandoned him and wanted to stay behind). I'll let the Kwan's video tell the story. (go to about 3 minutes in, but the whole video is worth your time)

    When he finally extricated himself (with a bit of help from The Kwan) he joined us down below to a round of applause.

    We took a walk through towards to red door. We passed the brick statues, making our way through to the wind tunnel. Taking some time out to have something to drink I decided to snap a picture, setting up my torches to back light the columns. Click. Wait. Hmmmm...

    Not quite. Bang on the head torch, get in the shot. Boom!

    It was looking like it was time to leave, so we split off from OT and co. and headed out via the Stairs. Passing back past Cathedral via several horrendous collapses, CunningCorgi and Wonky decided to head back over the top of Cathedral and shoot the last crane they were missing from their previous excursions.

    Last picture from underground: Crane 8

    We had a fun turn around. CunningCorgi and Wonky stealing my photons; instead of the other way round. :cool Back to the pub, we realised that the rest of the gang were nowhere to be found. Check the pub, all the cars are still around. Wonky and CunningCorgi had to head back to Wales so I waited

    Ringing the Kwan was useless, straight to voicemail. Ringing Seffy, useless. I finally sent a text knowing that they'd receive it when they got out into the fresh air.

    This is OT heading back through the woods.

    The original plan that The Kwan and I had envisaged was to kip in the mine, but with being so tired we made the strategic decision to fuck off back up north. Both being knackered, we made a couple of stops; one at Frankley services for Costa and Krispy Kreme, and finally at Sandbach were we had a cook off with the bacon and sausages that we didn't consume down south.

    Fit noms. So fucking good after a long day! With that, we climbed back aboard the car and back on to the M6 for the last 50 miles, full up and hearing our beds calling us.

    Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. Thanks to everyone for a great day. It was cool to see people again and to meet some new faces. Don't stay strangers!

    I'll leave you with a few vanity shots :D

    The Kwan lighting up Cathedral

    My Jesus Christ pose

    Crane number two with some numpty under the jib


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