Dunmow Scouts go underground

TWELVE scouts and two leaders from the 1st Dunmow Scout Troop put on helmets and miners’ lamps and descended a five metre ladder into the Surrey countryside to explore Merstham mines.

For three hours, under the expert guidance of instructors from the Surrey Scout Caving Club, the adventurous group stooped, crawled and wriggled around parts of the 16km disused sandstone mine system.

A spokesman for the troop said: “The existence of the mines was recorded in the Domesday Book and the mines were worked until around 120 years ago, supplying sandstone for buildings in London and latterly for linings of fireplaces and furnaces.

“In most places the group were able to crouch or crawl, but in others the only option was to lie flat and wriggle, turning their heads to the side to get through the really tight spaces.

“The smallest gap, the aptly named The Letterbox, was less than 30cm high but fortunately not very long, and was the finale for the group’s tour before emerging back into the sunshine a lot muddier, with aching arms and legs and very tired.”