Report - - Hillhouse Limestone Mine, Scotland - September 2017 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Hillhouse Limestone Mine, Scotland - September 2017


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Hopefully this is something different since I lack sufficient photographic equipment to put together a report to the standard that everyone has become accustomed to. So please accept this as a compromise considering the effort that wen't into this.

Some History
Hillhouse Limestone Mine is located in the hills to the south of Linlithgow on the outskirts of Beecraigs Wood and had commenced operation by the 1850s due to its first appearance on historical OS maps. This mine extends unseen toward the country park visitor centre under the road to the south, and becomes exposed north of the road in an elongated depression running north-east (see 1900 OS map). This depression results in exposed thicknesses of steeply dipping limestone. Here this limestone is up to 12 m thick, thinning to the south, and dips to the west up to 40 degrees producing a very slanted mine (see the profiles). On the old 1850s OS maps it is also recorded that a limekiln is present in the middle of the elongated depression, however this was not found during the visit.


1900 OS map with modern overlay
The Explore
I had visited this mine several times in the past and became curious about its extent. Over several trips I began sketching and roughly measuring the dimensions of the mine and eventually produced a layout of the left section of the mine (shown below). Due to the slant of the mine it can be tricky to traverse, with you having to lean diagonally while kneeling on wobbly boulders. After my first few visits, I identified several areas that remained unexplored due to being accessed via slippery slopes into unknown holes or through tight crawls. With the help of another explorer for added safety, these final sections were explored (right section of the map) to complete the previous map. Based on my initial mapping, this mine is up to 400 m long, running parallel to the elongated depression.


Hillhouse Limestone Mine Plan


1 - Typical main portal showing dipping strata (camera is pointing down at an angle so in reality it is a lot steeper)


2 - Mine condition at narrow points between profiles A and B hugging the western wall


3 - Narrow entrance supported by large tree above

We entered the main portals found in the middle of the elongated depression (1), heading for the most southerly extent of the mine (left section) which exhibits level ground, appearing to have housed cart tracks, and high ceilings. From this point, we traversed the mine heading north-east passing through profiles A and B (see map) past an additional entrance point. In this left section are various calcium formations and one roof collapse which has exposed the upper bedding within the limestone ceiling. At profile C there are two diverging narrow crawls, one of which leads into the next large chamber while the other forms a steep and muddy slope into a lower level that is partially flooded. Without proper rope equipment we left the latter for another time, as the lateral extent of this section could not be seen from our vantage point. Continuing through the connecting narrow crawl, we noticed that the back was peppered with rather large Herald moths which have been reported to be found in some UK caves, favoring dark and cool environments. Entering the next chamber, which contains numerous portals, we traversed this section which is unfortunately accumulating some rubbish. On the way towards profile D, some carvings can be noted on the left side of the passage, some legible dates include December 1970 which was most likely written by explorers after the mine closed. The next tight section at profiles D and E presented a bit of a challenge as any equipment on your person, such as a backpack, has to be taken off and pushed in front of you as there is easily less than 50 cm height to work with in places. This is complicated even further while trying to grip onto a muddy slope with just your forearms and toes as you crawl up. It was difficult and tiring to say the least. Heading north from this tight section there is a very steep slope that allows you to descend into the deepest level within the mine (probably a similar depth to the partially flooded section previously but with no visibly connecting passages). This level consists of a rather wide passage with various side workings and signs of some roof collapses. Following this passage north we noticed daylight reflecting off some puddles and felt a slight breeze in the air. Along this passage, its profile becomes rounder as it narrows and rises towards the end. If not for a large tree supporting the ceiling at the end, this entrance would have collapsed a long time ago. As you exit this portal you have a short crawl through and under the large tree roots (3) where you then emerge on the northern side of the elongated depression that the mine is situated in.

This is a very simple mine and hopefully this mine plan will encourage you to visit.
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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Good report, must be strange it being on such a steeply dipping level. Mentioning moths, I saw a large moth of some kind flying around when I was in Cults mine though I couldn't get any close look at it. It was quite well inside, not near to the entrance.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Good report, must be strange it being on such a steeply dipping level. Mentioning moths, I saw a large moth of some kind flying around when I was in Cults mine though I couldn't get any close look at it. It was quite well inside, not near to the entrance.
Thanks. Yeah from the research I have done it seems they like to hibernate in dark and cool environments over winter before emerging in the spring. So it's possible that we haven't seen any previously because it was still warm or that they blend in perfectly with brown colours and they are just unnoticed. The would match perfectly with the shade of cults.

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