Expedition 129 - 5th March 2005
Ariundle and the Fee Donald Mine

This was a pretty good day all round. I wasn't expecting many to turn up but they just kept arriving. We drove to Ariundle National Nature Reserve and there were more waiting for us there as well; in all there were twenty explorers: Abbie, Adrian, Alasdair, Alexander, Alexandria, Allan, Benjamin, Chloe, Chris D., Donald, Edward, Elliot, Jamie, JD, John Donaldson, Peter William, Robbie C., Robin D., Sarah and Thomas, eight helpers: Ann Marie, Becky, Chris M., Dot, Pamela, Peter Philippa and Sandra. Plus Bruce, Ellie and Lady to look for interesting edible material.

The day was cold and several of the explorers seemed to be rather lightly clad, so we set a brisk pace to warm everyone up on the long climb through the Nature Reserve. As far as the dogs were concerned, the high point was finding a deer carcass with two severed legs. Both Lady and Ellie had a try at them but only Ellie persisted in carrying the leg for the rest of the trip, although it was considerably smaller at the end.

Everyone was hot and tired by the time we reached the old Miners' Bridge and stopped for a Tunnock's Break. It took quite a time for the tail enders to catch up with the main team, but they all set off at a run for the last climb to the mines.
Fee Donald Mines are, thankfully, mostly closed off now and the big attraction is the huge spoil heap where everyone looked for crystals of lead ore, or galena. I think everyone who really wanted to find a bit managed to take home at least one crystal, some of these were really good specimens.

Then, just as everyone was starting to get chilly, I called them all back and we went down the path at a good rate. This was one of the longest expeditions and there were some sore feet by the time we reached the Ariundle Centre for a much-needed lunch.John Dye


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