An excursion into Harptree Combe and mines.

Start in the village of West Harptree. Take the footpath (5614/5684), next to the local shop, in a south-easterly direction to the combe. Follow the path through the combe, taking note of some very good outcrops of dolomitic conglomerate, until reaching the aqueduct beyond which is an obvious fork. Take the left-hand path (towards Proud Cross) follow for approx. 200m where Mine No.1 is located in the right-bank approx. 20m from the path at the base of a large beech tree.

Mine No.1 (5619/5566)

A short mine of approx. 11m (4.5m of which is open gully). It is 1m wide and up to 1.6m high. There is a vein of dog-toothed spar, which has been blackened, and some small geodes of calcite.

On the way up to the mine a series of sinkholes are passed these are most probably linked to the line of works that run down this valley. There is a gated conduit that flows into the main combe where the two meet near to the aqueduct.

Back at the fork follow the path up-valley for approx. 200m where Mine No.2 is located, in the right-hand bank approx. 10m above the combe floor.

Mine No.2 (5603/5576) Twin Passage Mine

Two parallel passages approx. 7m in length 0.75m wide and up to 1.75m high. At the end both passages are joined. The most southerly passage has a pool of water and ends in boulders.

To the south and above the mine is an open rift approx. 20m in length.

Directly opposite Mine No.2, in the left-hand bank, are Mines No’s.3, 4 and 5.

Mine No.3 (5606/5574) Rift Mine

This is the largest of the mines and is approx.30m in length although the first 10m is an open gully where the earthen roof has collapsed. The single passage is 0.75m wide and up to 6m high. The roof through most the mine consists mainly of earth. It ends at a large chamber with obvious workings and along its length shot-holes are visible.

Mine No.4

10m south of No.3 another rift mine approx. 11m in length (5m of open gully) with a solid roof.

Mine No.5

10m south of No.4. Single passage approx. 13m in length 1m wide and up to 2m high.

Mine No.6 (5603/5568)

70m south of No.5 and 25m up left-hand bank. Follow steep gully upwards, the mine is just below the top. It is 5m long, up to 1.5m and 0.75m in width. The roof is entirely made up of earth and numerous roots.

Between Mines No’s 5 and 6 a footpath up the right-hand bank (west) leads across fields to a track. Follow the track to where it meets Ridge Lane turning right into the lane (downhill) will take you back to West Harptree.

Alternatively you may wish to explore the rest of the combe or take the path to the left (east) of the mines and look around the site of Richmont Castle before heading back. The Castle has some interesting sites that look to have been worked at some time. It is possible that some of these excavations could date back to the mid-1500’s when calamine was used in the brass industry, a valuable commodity being used for arms in the war against Spain.

REFERENCES:

Haines – Nutt, R. Frank & Mulvey, Christopher.

1963. Not in Barrington- or Oldham. WCC (Jnl) 7(90)199-207(Jun)

Hendv, Philip G.

1967. Mines of East Harptree Combe. SVCC Newsheet (9) (3-4)

1968. Analysis of rock samples from mines in East Harptree Combe. SVCC Newssheet (2) (2) (Feb)

1971 Qualitative analysis of rock samples from E.H. Combe. SVCC NIL (9-11) (Dec 1970/Jan 1971). Map

Oldham, Anthony D.

1963 Mines of East Harptree Combe I Richmont. SVCC NIL 1(2) 3-4 (May)

1963 Mines of Harptree Combe, with a brief reference to Richmont Castle, the animal life in these mines and the geology of the combe. MNRC Jnl. 1(1)14-17(Jan)

Budd, Jon

East Harptree: Times Remembered Times Forgotten