While up in the lakes at the Suss annual dinner I heard this tale about a local lad who went on a simple derigging trip from Taylor’s to Flemings.
The story goes that he was up staying in the area on a week-end of away, feeding off nothing more than condiments. He was given the simple task of derigging flemings.
Now some say he was a bit of weird one, which may have been why he was on his own. Others say he liked to smuggle budgies (a good idea if you ask me, when your going down mines were one might encounter bad air). But all that is really known is that he entered the mine on his own at Taylor’s level never to return that way.
After the initial wet section of Taylor’s level, the mine passage reduces in size slowly, until it leads to a short flat out crawl which emerges in a circular pit at the bottom a boulder pile.
As he worked his way through this crawl, he found it more difficult than he had on a previous visit. On closer inspection it appeared that one or two extra stones were in the passage that he could have sworn weren’t there the last time. In retrospect he should have though more about this but unfortunately he didn’t. He emerged from the crawl and gingerly stood up in the pit at the bottom of boulder pile.
After due consideration and carefully surveying the rouble looking for a way to get out of the pit without dislodging any of the boulders two hand holds were selected in a bracing position in an attempt to lift. As he tried to lift himself it happened, it moved.
His initial reaction was to freeze, on some foolish belief that it might stop moving. That was not to be, within seconds it was all moving and fast, up to knee level and rising, all he could do was scramble/swim up the rocks as fast as he could, keep on top and don’t get buried was all that mastered. Instants later he found himself standing on the after match of a complete collapse of the boulder pile, looking down at what moments ago bad been the entrance crawl but was now nothing more than a boulder heap, with the pit he’d been standing in full beyond recognition. Any attempt to get back towards the entrance crawl merely resulted in further collapses.
Quite what went through his mind at this point no one will ever, we can but imagine.
There was no going back now, the only way out was on. But on meant a lot more sketchy mine (a prospect he can’t have been looking forward too).
So on it was, he proceeded on with nothing but his thoughts for company (and for once he wished they’d bugger off as they weren’t exactly the helpful).
A little further on some interesting traverse were reached and safely negotiated, followed by a very loose section, where some more rock decided they preferred the idea of being further down the cave rather than staying put.
From here the mine got a little more stable for a bit and allowed things to calm down. Light could even be seen coming down one of the old shafts. Though that would provide little comfort as you couldn’t escape that way.
He eventually made it to the base of the pitches, and proceeded with his initial task of derigging.
This consisted of a lot of very gentle prusiking and staring at am awful lot of stacked deads hanging above his head. The only consolations was that with every prusik up, was one less to go and several boulders that could no longer fall on him. Simple task like packing the tackle sacks provide interesting as the usual approach of stuff and bang the bag to get it to fit really wasn’t an option, not with those deads and loose floor.
Finally after a little over an hour after the collapse he found himself in the entrance adit and a few minutes later standing in the fresher air outside of the fleming level entrance.
One would assume that he was rather relieved to be out and alive, still in one peace and dreading the thought of any further caving. Yet rumour has it that he did another cave and further run that day, but these are just wild claims with no substantial evidence to back them up.
All that is known for sure is that Flemings to Taylor’s is no longer a through trip.