I explored my first old lead mine when I was 12. I had been camping with the Boy Scouts and I spotted the entrance during a walk back to the camp. That night, I waited until everyone was asleep and my friend and I walked the two miles to the entrance and with a torch between us we went in. We explored quite a way but eventually the path was blocked by a roof fall and we had to turn back.
Since then I have explored many old lead mines and shafts – some with friends and some on my own. I have never really been frightened or uneasy, although I have been careful.
But I was recently on an evening walk near Trollers Ghyll in North Yorkshire and I came across an old ruin and a mine level. Normally I would have ‘poked my nose in’ and had a look, but something made me think twice – there was a weird ‘atmosphere’ about it and I felt very uneasy.
It was also starting to get very dark and Trollers is supposed to be haunted by a ‘Barguest’ – a huge black dog like creature. Legend has it that one of the old miners saw it when he was returning home from work late one evening and it chased him through the Ghyll terrifying him. I started to walk a bit faster…
I did a bit of research and trolling various internet sites brought up a couple of pictures taken outside the mine but none inside and no description of the mine, other than it’s name – ‘Nebcastle Rake Mine’ and the level or entrance is called ‘Hopewell Level’.
Well I promised myself that next time I was up there I would go in…and in a couple of weeks I was outside the entrance again. I was just about to walk in when from inside there came a faint tapping sound – like someone hitting the walls with a hammer or a pick. I stopped still, and listening I heard it again. I decided that descretion was the better part of valor and beat a hasty retreat. To this day I don’t know what that tapping noise was…maybe the ghost of an old miner working away, or the Barguest? Or maybe it was just water dripping into a pool… But I do know for sure I will never go in there on my own…ever!
*** exploring old lead mines is very dangerous – if you do wish to try it I strongly suggest you join a club. I always tell someone where I am and what time I can be expected to return if I go on my own…