What to expect
Have you been caving before? Mine exploration’s similar, but instead of crawling through natural underground passages, you’ll explore underground environments people have excavated to look for resources like stones, metals, and minerals. The different environment brings a whole host of difference challenges, hazards, and surroundings.
What you’ll learn
You’ll need to keep everyone in the loop as you communicate clearly with your friends and support each other. Like any adventure, some people will find it comes naturally while others may need a bit of encouragement to face their fears. There are plenty of opportunities for people to take the lead or step into someone else’s shoes and understand how they’re feeling.
The UK has a strong history of mining. People have been mining since the Bronze Age, and lead and copper attracted the Romans to Britain. Entire communities used to exist around mining when we used to mine coal and iron for energy and steel – mining was a way of life as well as a job. Far less copper and iron are mined in the UK today, but the underground kingdom remains. We don’t have any official figures for how far it goes, but it likely stretches thousands of miles.
- Take an extra jumper. Just like caves, mines can be cold and wet. You’ll be glad you remembered a spare, dry coat or jumper when you make it back to the outside world
- Wear strong boots. Check with whoever’s leading the activity whether you’ll be better off in wellies or hiking boots – it’ll probably depend on the mine (and the time of year).
- Take it easy. Being underground can make some people feel nervous. Keep an eye on anyone who’s uncomfortable – perhaps they’d like to stay close to a leader or a more confident friend? There should always be time for people to take a break if they need a moment or two.
You must always:
Be safe outdoors:
- Check the weather forecast
- Everyone must be briefed before the activity, making sure they know how to use equipment and what to do in an emergency.
- Only groups of 4 or more can participate in underground activities.
- Always leave a route plan and contact information at a safe location on the surface
- All mines must have a current mine inspection report in place for the sections being used
Joint activities with other organisations:
This activity can be led by you or someone else in Scouts:
The activity leader must have an adventurous activities permit with the right level and permissions for your group.
Where the group is entirely members over the age of 18 the permit scheme does not apply, please follow the rule 9.8 adult groups.
You can go to a centre or use an activity leader who is not part of Scouting:You must find a suitable provider who meets the following requirements:
- The centre/instructor should hold one of these: (If the provider is AALA exempt)
- British Caving Association - Local Cave and Mine Leader (LCMLA) Level 1 or 2, or Cave Instructor Certificate (CIC) including Mines module depending on the cave and techniques required
The provider must have public liability insurance.
Mine exploration is a great way to try something new and get active in a new environment. For some people, it’s also about learning to face their fears, overcome worries, and not back down. Did anyone feel nervous before they started? What helped them to feel calmer or to take a step out of their comfort zone? People could chat about how they found the adventure in pairs or small groups. If anyone wants to, they could share some of their thoughts. How did people support each other to have the best possible time?
- Mines can sometimes be more accessible than other caving activities – you’ll still get in touch with your local provider to chat through the needs of people in your group with plenty of notice.
- Many old mines that are open to the public offer guided tours; these may be the best option for your group as they’re often bigger (and more open) so they’re easier to access. Don’t presume every mine tour will work for everyone, though. You’ll still need to get in touch before you go.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.