I live in a small town called Brighouse in England. I love it hear with its variation; towns, cities, countryside and of course history. It was May 2013 and i received a blurry photo on my phone. I don't have it to hand but it looked like the edge of a cliff. I called the friend (Richard) who sent it me and he said it was an abandon mine and that we should explore it. it wasn't too far from where we lived. Now before i continue i will tell you that me and some friends love urban exploration. It fascinates me and gives you a glimpse into what life might be like when people disappear. That and it makes for some fantastic photo opportunities.
So one evening i drove to the location where some friends where already waiting. Geared up in cloths i don't mind destroying, several led lights, camera and a flask of coffee. I didn't really know what to expect as i was pulling up to a small makeshift car park in some woods but what i really did fear was getting lost, after all it is a mine. It was already getting dark but that didn't matter, not where we was going. We walked along a trail in the woods to the mine. Seemed forever before my friend said "here we are". Looked around. Nothing. He pointed to the side of a hill no more than 10 meters away. Thats when i saw a slumped over sign. "Danger of Explosion" it said. A gap no bigger than a small window led to what was suppose to be a mine. Well time to get dirty.I slid down the wet and slimy muck. I was in.
Must say i was surprised when i slid down into the side of this hill. It was massive, an arched size tunnel about 7foot in hight but at least 15ft width. My lights wouldn't reach anything solid when i shined my light down this tunnel, yes it was long. I waited for the group to all get in then we did a light check and went over some rules. (1. No smoking or naked flames. 2. Watch your footing and move slowly 3. Stick together.) Part 1&2 where easy but it was clear that 3 was going to be hard. As we went in the size of the cavern started to shrink and the tunnels started to split in several directions. Which way to go? i looked back and tried to remember the entrance in case i got lost then turned to proceed along one tunnel.
This was amazing. It was clear looking at some old carts and tracks that this place was at least 100 years old. It was strange to think that so much work and effort went into this and now it sits unrecognized for eternity. As we started to get deeper i noticed the air started to get thin. I was expecting this but was confident that we should be ok. I shouted to people that if anyone gets dizzy to let everyone know so we can leave ASAP. Chris, one of the group had visited the place before and had some knowledge of them so i was a little reassured.
The further we went in the more deteriorated the mine was. Huge parts of the ceiling and walls had fallen, wooden beams snapped and the tunnels had gotten smaller. The air was now considerably thin. Deep breaths didn't seem possible so i took my time not to use too much energy. This mine was massive and very disorientating. Slowly i couldn't help but notice voices of the group getting further away. i then realized that staying together was too hard. I was stopping to take photos and some of the group where too exited to stay slow and ended up ahead, or so i thought. Me and Richard then caught up to where we thought the voices where coming from. They were not where we thought but thanks to the many torches it was easy to keep track of locations.
We must have been in the mine around an hour when i noticed areas that were sealed off. What was beyond i don't know. There were gaps at the top of these walls that sealed off entrances. Curiosity didn't get the better of me though but i really wanted to see the other side. Maybe one day i will take a look. moving on i kept seeing these small carts. They were everywhere but completely unmovable. Do move one would no doubt make it disintegrate. I haven't seen anything so rusty, everything was also wet. It was apparent that this was a coal time.After looking around it was apparent that it was now time to leave as we was all looking tired and was mucky as hell. So we all started moving back through the tunnels. Crossroads of tunnels but we was on track as we recognized certain features and Chris had done this a few times before.
Chris who was leading suddenly stopped. He looked back at us before looking up ahead "its not this way guys it was the turning before". Ok thats fine, easy mistake considering it was a maze. So we turned back and then one of the group said "its this way" i agreed as i recognized a feature (collapsed beam). So once again we headed out of there. I don't recognize this way am sure. I heard Chris "i don't know where we are".
I have always wondered what it would be like to feel utter panic, how would i react, would i be cool? would i break?, these are things i found out. Well it was something i haven't experienced before but i knees went weak and it felt like i was going to faint. And not because of the air. I wanted to scream but i contained myself. Getting lost in the open (in England anyway) isn't very scary. Just walk until a road and thats it. But underground, restricted by thousands of tones of rock and earth and somewhere as secluded as that really scared the s**t out of me. It wasn't long (a few minutes maybe) before someone shouted "found the way" we followed Chris until we reached the large section we first came into. The air seemed thinker and fresh. It was an amazing relief . We went to the hole in the entrance and decided to have a coffee before we left.
It was a fantastic experience and would like to go back. Now if you have read this far you may be thinking that we were extremely naive and foolish to have done what we did. But we were careful and had informed people of our location with times to expect us. It might have collapsed in on us but we all knew that there was a risk. Everything involves risk but everyone has there own taste in risk. We are urban explorers and know that there is risk but seeing something that the world has forgotten is priceless.
Till next time.