Three teenagers trap themselves in abandoned mine for seven hours
‘I was unable to move or control my breathing’
When Harry, Jack and Holly decided to investigate the local rumours they’d heard of a vast underground cavern on the outskirts of Bath, all they had in mind was an exciting excursion filled with awe and wonder.
So, imagine their despair when this exciting day out turned into a hellish nightmare and they found themselves trapped in an abandoned mine for seven hours.
Harry, 19, had heard about the abandoned mine in Corsham – nicknamed “the cathedral” – through a friend.
“We didn’t know exactly where the mines were, so we stopped at a pub to find out. The pub told us where to find the entrances and, after we paid a £10 deposit, gave us a large Allen key we would need to get in. They also made us leave our phone numbers and a time we were planning to return by.
Following the pub’s directions, the three friends arrived at a gated entrance to a tunnel. After commando-crawling for roughly eight metres, they found themselves in a cave big enough to stand up in.
Harry said: “We hadn’t come very well prepared and only had one small torch between us. We were also wearing t-shirts and shorts which meant it felt a little chilly and damp inside the mine.
“Turning the torch on the surrounding walls, we saw everything was covered in graffiti, with arrows in different colours pointing to various things such as ‘the cathedral’ or ‘way out’.
Deciding to follow some of the graffitied directions, the group walked along twisting passages for twenty minutes before reaching a massive cavern “about one hundred feet high”.
Harry said: “It was amazing, absolutely huge with a tiny opening at the very, very top which let in light from outside. The less said about the inevitable mound of litter at the bottom, the better.”
Having reached their goal, the group eventually decided to head back the way they’d come. This, however, is when the entire day began to fall apart.
“As we walked back, we decided to follow the same signs to the cathedral but in reverse. However, after half an hour we realised we’d managed to get lost.”
In desperation, the group tried to head back to the cathedral and start again, but every path they took led to a dead end.
“We eventually found an arrow on the wall saying ‘Exit 100m’ and so followed it in hope. As we walked it was followed by arrows saying ‘Exit 80m’ and ‘Exit 60m’, but as the numbers went down, the terrain got worse.
“After clambering over rocks on hands and knees, we reached a crevice no more than a foot and half wide with an arrow pointing straight up. Feeling like we had no choice, we decided to climb.”
As the group tried to scale their way up the narrow crevice, Holly fell, hitting her head and fracturing both her wrists and her pelvis. While Holly laid injured on the floor, Jack decided to explore the rest of the crevice.
Alone in the dark with Holly, Harry began to have a serious panic attack. He remembers: “I was unable to control my breathing or even move. It was horrible.”
Eventually, Jack returned having found no way out. After another six hours of walking, the group eventually found the cathedral again.
“We looked up and noticed through the hole in the roof that it was now dark outside. Between us we only had one mobile phone still with battery and somehow managed to get a bar of signal by standing underneath the hole in the roof.”
Emergency services soon arrived and lowered food, water and a radio through the hole for them. The three friends were then instructed to wait there while mine rescue were called.
“While we were waiting, a group of teenagers walked into the cathedral. I think they were from Milton Keynes. They were told by the firemen to wait with us. While we were chatting we found out the pub that sold us the key also sold maps for £6, but we hadn’t been offered one.”
After an hour or so, four fireman arrived with three locals who had knowledge of the mine and a dog.
“They all gave us the inevitable ‘stupid kids’ bollocking but to be honest I’ve never been so relieved in my life.”
For Harry however, the nightmare didn’t end there.
“I’ve found it hard to sleep since that day and my friends have said I’ve been really moody around them. We all know it was stupid and we’re thankful for the help when it came, but we had no idea how dangerous a situation we were getting ourselves into.
“I don’t want to see the tunnels shut off, but I think there should be proper warnings and directions inside. Lives shouldn’t be put at risk anymore.”