Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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Box Labyrinth

Mark R, Chris H, Ed D, Luke N, Simon B, Liz H, Maddie D, Tom (Evil) L, Ben E
29th April 2013

Box Freestone Mine.
It was the morning after the night before and the weary badgers, once again, opened their eyes to be greeted by an infestation of beer mats inexplicably stuck to the ceiling. The night before had, uncharacteristically, ended at the frankly ludicrous hour of 10:30 when mass hysteria had taken hold of the clan forcing the badgers to think it was a good idea to go have an early night. With no one willing to admit what had taken place the previous night, the badgers arose from their slumber. The previous day's toil in Swildons Hole had taken its toll and arthritic groans echoed throughout the bunk house as bruised limbs were swung into life. As with any sociable animal; once the first had risen, the rest were soon to follow. With the rousing smell of 2kg of Costco's finest pork products being tortured in the kitchen, the Badgers considered the days quarry: Box Freestone … quarry.

After a rushed automotive tour of central Bath, it was with great trepidation that the advanced group of ambassadorial Badger democrats entered the stage to negotiate access to the fabled mine. I say “stage”, perhaps I should have said “pub”. Needless to say, the democrats were successful in their endeavour. Bursting forth in joyous victory from the Quarryman's Arms, holding aloft 2 laminated maps and one of the largest Allen keys known to man, the Badgers set out to find the entrance to the sandstone maze.


Once more the Badgers ventured into the deep. The labyrinthine passages hewn from the unforgiving rock stretched out into the penetrating darkness, just as Daedalus had envisaged but, for the Badgers, Ariadne had not provided her thread: They were to rely on their own navigational skills, 3 compasses, 2 overly elaborate maps and their own inherent sense of direction to find the Minotaur. Thus they decided to leave the boring navigation bit for later and inferred that the best way to see the numerous, and plentiful, sights of the Box Freestone Mine would be by the age-old method of direction-less wondering and democratic cardinal coordinate speculation.

It was clear from the outset that the intrepid Badgers were not the first to venture into the labyrinth. Few and far between were the tunnel intersections that had escaped the modern, aerosol, equivalent of Ariadne's thread. The infection had obviously spread from the disturbingly named “Backdoor” entrance. As the junctions neared the over-world, the blooms of graffiti mycelium burst colour into the darkness with a quandary of messages: “Geoff was ere”, “Crystal 4 Robbie” and the always informative; “Mike is gay”. However, as the Badgers soon discovered, deciphering the plethora of colourful scrawl was to provide a far more helpful navigational solution than that of the now soiled maps! Moreover, under the post-modern grammar-fobic drivel, windows on ancient adventurer's hearts and prehistoric stone masons toils could be observed etched into the cold stone by the monotone grey of a tortured pencil or the relief of an ancient chisel. Forgotten love letters, touching poems and complex mining calculations juxtaposed with graffiti tags, spurious arrows and crudely drawn cocks.

A multitude of wonders were encountered by the intrepid Badgers throughout their visit to the underworld: Cranes, like ancient wooden leviathans once able to carry unimaginable lodes, held their rotten arms high in the darkness, waiting for the next burden to arrive along the now non-existent tracks. Miner's tools, shoes and equipment propped in dark alcoves patiently awaiting the return of their masters. Amidst the darkness, in the central “Cathedral” chamber, the sun penetrates the eternal shadow through one of the few openings to the surface. Broken offerings from the world above lay strewn over the floor and the crunch of broken glass invades the silence as the Badgers make their way through the heap of unwanted dross that has fallen from the light above.

On the advice of selected graffiti, the Badgers leave the underworld, vowing to return as it is clear that there is much left undiscovered in the darkness below. Finding their way to a mostly local waterhole, the Badgers ate yet more pig and discussed the next endeavour for there was whispers that the future may hold an explosive surprise!

Until Next Time...
Ben E