Report - - Underneath Crank Caverns, St Helens – November 2017 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Underneath Crank Caverns, St Helens – November 2017


Exploring with Bob
Regular User
This was a thoroughly enjoyable explore with @Bigjobs, @Paradox and a completely fearless chap called Andy (not sure of his forum name) on a mild, but dark November evening.


The caverns exist as a result of mining for sandstone with the pillar and stall technique, dating back as far as 1730. And that is what took place on the site until 1939 when the Earl of Derby decided to turn it into a game reserve. But there are many local legends that the tunnels and caves extend for miles underground to places as far afield as Upholland, the Church of Saint Mary and even St Helen’s town hall. Then there are the stories of secret hangings in special chambers and a refuge for Catholics during the reign of Henry VIII. But best of all is the myth of vicious dwarves who lived in the mines during the 18th Century. Apparently four children went into the mine and only three came out. The surviving child said they came across a pile of human remains, but then they were chased by small men with beards. He only narrowly escaped through an opening to the surface with the hungry little fuckers still grabbing at his ankles. Two soldiers went to investigate, found all manner of human remains including the skull of a child, and the ruins of an ancient church of unknown denomination. Or so the legend goes…

It clearly needed a thoroughly good explore by a group of explorers who weren't afraid of goblins.

The obvious caverns are the remnants of the pillar and stall technique and had I come on my own, these are probably as much as I would have explored (because, well, I'm not the smallest of people and I have a rational fear of getting stuck in small spaces deep underground - at least, so I assumed). Huge open caverns supported by pillars left to keep the roof up.



It wasn't long before Jobs was calling me across to a small muddy hole somewhere in the rock. And with a quick shine of his torch, off he disappeared into the darkness. "Is there much to see?", I asked. Never really having seen someone disappear into a small hole in a rock face before. "That depends how adventurous you are, young man," replied Jobs. And with that I followed into find out...

This is the small muddy hole and that is Andy emerging from it after exploring every possible nook and cranny.


Inside the hole there had been a collapse at some point and the ceiling was a precarious patchwork of stone slabs balanced on very little of next to nothing. The chamber went straight on, but narrowed even smaller as it did, or it went down deeper. I wrestled myself back out, which allowed Andy and Jobs to investigate. Then I wrestled myself back in and then further down to meet Jobs and Andy investigating what the depths had to offer.

This is inside the chamber below looking at Andy pushing deeper into the collapsed section to try and find a way through.


But the route was blocked and that was as much as this cavern had to offer, so we made our way around to the next one. I found Andy had made hise way into a very small hole. If you look close enough there is a smashed bottle neck to the right of the picture, which acts as measure for scale. The light inside isn't a craftily placed lenser. Incredibly it's Andy's head torch.


Jobs investigated another small opening on the other side of this cavern, which took you into an interesting sloping roofed section that was filled with deads.


That was that cavern explored, but we were still making our way left, around to the main event....

Before the gated mine, there was another chambered section, leading back as far as the eye can see.


And then a little further around there is the gate. The gate is very, very small. And then there is another gate, which is also, very, very small. And in the middle of the two gates there is a gap, which again is very, very small. So small in fact I struggled even to get in. The light in the distance is Andy's head torch again.

As I packed up my camera equipment, because I would never fit a camera on a tripod through with my bag, Jobs followed Andy in and Paradox followed Jobs.


Apparently if there are goblins in mines, it's always the person at the back that gets it. So it's worth bearing that in mind.

This is looking back from roughly where Andy's torch is in the image above. To get to this bit, you have to commando crawl across the floor. This may not be the prettiest picture, but it does give you an idea what you're going to be getting up to if you go through the gate. I pushed my rucksack in front of me, because it bare fit through the gap on its own.


This is just a muddy hole. I know it just is a muddy hole, because I decided to investigate. I could only go so far because my arse got stuck. Happily, I decided to investigate feet first.


What followed was my favorite section - a properly mined tunnel just the right height for hungry dwarves, which incidentally, there was still no sign of.


More awesome tunnel. This was more like something out of a slate mine than a sandstone mine.


This led to what appears to be a dead end, but if you can get through the gap (and you can) then it takes you full circle back around near to where we came in. I left someone's abandoned can of cider in for scale. The hole is probably no more than three beer cans high at its narrowest.


There was also another chamber, just to the left before the mined tunnel began. It was a stoop to get into, but relatively easy compared to some of the narrower and lower sections. This seemed as good a place as any for a mine selfie looking back on where I'd been.


And that was more or less it. We covered (Andy certainly did - he was in and out everything faster than I could keep up with) every possible adit imaginable, and even some that weren't. There a rumours of a great cathedral like cavern, which is meant to be off the mined adit and takes some ropes to get into. But we couldn't find any possible access. So if it once did exist, it perhaps no longer does, or at least the access has been sealed. There are other rumours that parts of the mine were sealed from a collapse, or deliberately with gunpowder. So who knows...

A massive thank you Paradox, Bigjobs and Andy for an excellent evening exploring underground! It turns out I'm not nearly as bothered by confined crawls through narrow gaps as I'd imagined; or at least, not in good company anyway.

Hope everyone enjoys the report.


EOA :thumb
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Regular User
Great photos and great company you had.been here a few times it not far from me.


28DL Regular User
Regular User
Cracking report that EOA, enjoyed both the pics and the story lol. Was a nice little bimble and deffo don't think there was anything we didn't see, so no mysterious church lurking underground!


Official Smartarse
Regular User
Great report that, and some great pics. :D


Exploring with Bob
Regular User
Cheers everyone. Hopefully the fun had through the evening's explore came across in the write up.

Definitely, Paradox - there's nothing down there we didn't see, at least not anymore...

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Interesting history. Very dark & fascinating. Would love to do somewhere like here. But alas my climbing ability is limited. Top report & shots :D


Exploring with Bob
Regular User
Cheers, CJ - and like Paradox says, it doesn't take any special skill. At most commando crawling through mud. Because of the very confined spaces and at sometimes precarious looking ceilings, I wouldn't have gone as deep into the workings had I been on my own. That's with already being comfortable in mines and drains on my own. But it was a walk in the park with Jobs, Paradox and Andy being there too. And I'd be happier doing it on my own now I've had some experience with people who know what they're doing. It's not worrying, just fun, and anyone could do it :D

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