Saturday 16th April 2022
Sir Francis Level
This was a special trip today as it was Pats birthday request and he had been wanting to go here since he was 7 and first got a copy of the Swaledale mines book and had walked past the level entrance from his grandparents caravan in Gunnerside.
Started the day out by picking pat up from Darlo and drove over the Stang into Gunnerside village where Chris and Adele were already prepped. We sorted bags to carry and set off to the entrance shaft much to walkers amusement and Pat provided them with a history lesson.
We all kitted up at the top of the third air shaft, whilst everything of Pats rolled down the hill one by one toward the beck. Chris decided to check the second air shaft and soon appeared underneath us so we abseils down to join him and with the 4-gas meter beeping away we slipped into the waist deep water and set off along the mile walk to the engine room with the water levels ranging from ankle to nipple height.
I was on photo duties so i went in the engine room first before it got all steamed up, at this point the gas meter was bleeping away with 02 levels at 18% however i couldn’t feel any difference and nor could anyone else. We made Pat pose for multiple photos where he has the most happy face.
Then we went up the little steps to the winding room; i was surprised as to how big this chamber was with the wooden drum winder and the head gearing wheels suspended on enormous timbers.
Chris tells us that the one that is split and bowing wasn’t like that when he first visited and will soon fall down and be lost forever.
Back in the level Pat, Chris and i climbed over a collapse to see the spare winding wheels and gearing, then over another collapse where the O2 levels went down to 17% so they retreated back. I had went back to the engine room and met Adele and she said she was heading back as she was feeling the cold. I stood around for a bit on my own admiring until i saw the lights of Chris and Pat coming back, we had one last look around and commenced the walk back.
When we got up the air shaft , Adele had a caterpillar out for Pat however with the wind the candles were proving difficult to light. He settled with one and promptly blew it out and then served up a slice to everyone. We then got changed and more of Pats stuff rolled into the beck again ….
Walked back into the village and had a drink in the kings arms where Pat was presented with a pile of birthday books of which he was very chuffed. When i had got home Pat rang me and asked me to send him the photos from the day as to show his family as they were all impressed and excited that he had been down to see the engine room; very wholesome