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Information - - Going Underground or Mine Exploring for Newbies. | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Information - Going Underground or Mine Exploring for Newbies.


Lord Oort

Fear is the little death
Regular User
Going Underground (la lala la)
or
Mine Exploring for Newbies.



If you've never been underground before and want to start here's a few helpful pointers for you.

Following a few basic rules will make a considerable difference to your chances of continuing to enjoy this hobby safely.

That said, exploring underground is a hell of a lot of fun; the trick is to do it safely.​

Basics:

The first thing you need to do is make sure you have a reasonable idea about the mine you are intending to explore. There's all sorts of hazards to be aware of depending on the type of mine you are in. There is no such thing as a 'safe' mine.

***BCA Insurance. https://british-caving.org.uk/wiki3/doku.php?id=membership:dim - BCA is required for most gated and controlled access sites. Its a good idea to have because if you do get into trouble anywhere this will cover the cost of rescue. ***

*** Always tell someone where you are going, a rough plan for what you're going to do and give them a callout time so that if you have a problem and don't contact them, they dial 999 and ask for the POLICE and then ask for cave rescue. ***

*** Make sure you have a survey if you're going in without a guide Getting lost is very easy if you're not used to navigating underground. Its not as simple as I'll just retrace my steps; everything can look very different in reverse. ***


These can usually be found on the internet with a little searching or asking in this subforum,; you wont get anywhere though unless you already have a few reports up and been on the site for a while. We really don't want to contribute to cave rescue callouts.

*** A lot of mines do have sensitive access agreements with the land owner. ***

Think about where you are going to park, find out if there is an agreed access route to the entrance, do not go on mass, be polite if approached on route to the mine and leave if requested to do so. Most importantly if approached by YouTube goons like EWF to take them underground tell them where to go less politely.

You may only be accessing the mine once yourself, but a lot of hard work goes into initially exploring these mines, gaining access agreements and ongoing work to ensure they don't collapse and if they do digging out that section again.

If you know someone who is prepared to give you a tour, that's usually the best way to see something for the first time. They can also clue you in to any special requirements/hazards the mine may have.

If you can, go in groups of three or more. This is simply so that if someone hurts themselves one person can stay with them and the other can go for help.

Going solo is fine once you know what you are doing but just be aware you are completely responsible for yourself while underground.

Keep an eye out for big cracks in load bearing bits of rock. ie walls.

If you find collapsed rock that is clean and a markedly lighter colour that probably means the fall is fairly fresh.

If you see a lot of props on the floor have a good look at the ceiling as if the props have fallen it means the ceiling has moved.

Always keep an eye on where you are walking as ground can be very uneven and a twisted ankle can really ruin your day. You also need to keep an eye on the roof as clocking your head without a helmet can cause a nasty gash.

You will find a lot of mines have false floors, this is something you should absolutely research before you go in, if there's a chance of them then there's a very real danger of death! If you feel the floor bowing slightly under you then leave very carefully, you may have a 100ft drop under the rotton wood you thought was a stone floor.

Try to touch as little as possible, particularly wooden props as they will almost certainly be rotten and you may catch a fungal infection (unpleasant) or in extreme cases possibly bring the roof down.

If you have to leave markers for your route (this is really not advised) then build little cairns out of a few stones instead of using glow sticks, string ,spray paint or other such nonsense as other cavers/explorers may well remove them as we get sick and tired of people leaving them lying about.

If you find bats, please leave them be. They're completely harmless and are a protected species.

*** Quick overview of some of the more popular types of mines. ***

Air quality can be a problem with all mines and underground spaces;; not enough O2 is just the start of it. Things can also change at different times of year and something that was safe in the summer might not be safe in winter.

Limestone Mines:

Fairly straight forward unless they are huge. Usually fairly clean and dry. Limestone can be quite unstable so always have an eye on the roof and the state of the walls.

Chalk Mines:

Usually very stable but chalk is soft and roots can grow through and then rot which means methane, having a gas detector is a good idea if the mine is not well ventilated.

Iron Mines:

Probably my favourite type of mine as they are usually part cave system as well. Iron ore can leach oxygen out of the air. So you need to be fairly careful if you are going deep/lower levels. Again, gas detector is a good idea.

Coal Mines:

Beyond the scope of this guide but suffice to say dangerous in the extreme, I do not recommend going into a coal mine unless you really know what you are doing. See the other guides section at the bottom.

Lead Mines:

Bloody dangerous, very high possibility of false floors and ceilings. likely exposure to height. Huge amounts of fun if you are comfortable with that. Certainly not a mine to start with.

Slate Mines:

Huge. Exposure to serious height (easily exceeds 100m in places), generally stable but slate can be contrary; best to stay away from falls. Slate can also be razor sharp so be careful when putting your hands out to steady you.

Tin Mines:

Usually accessed by abseiling down a shaft so not really for beginners. Can be very unstable due to the age of the mine .

Copper Mines

Similar to lead/iron mines but considerably more colourful and slightly less dangerous than lead.

Basic Equipment:

By far the most important piece of kit is your main lamp, do not skimp on this. You can pick up really decent reliable headlamps for about £25 upwards to nearly a grand for the professional ones. If you're not sure scroll down to the other guides section and have a look at the excellent torch FAQ's by @Grom

Not much to it really. You can spend silly money on lights, lids, suits etc but to start off

Helmet, headlamp, gloves, decent boots (preferably with anti slip soles), rough clothes or boilersuit, compass and torch.

This is the absolute minimum I go underground with. I also usually carry spare batteries, another torch or 3, drink, chocolate and various things like cables ties/sling/plasters etc.

It is worth having a small medkit and some antibac hand cleaner either on you or back in the car just in case you do have a minor injury. Stone is very unforgiving and if you fall or even trip slightly wrong it can be a real pain.

If you're just starting out the best piece of advice I can give you is to over prepare and make sure you have a backup plan in case stuff goes sideways. Before you know it you'll be zooming down stuff that terrified the crap outta you when you first started:thumb

*** Other guides you might find helpful: ***





I will be maintaining and adding to this guide so
Any other questions please feel free to ask in the comments below.

 
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