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Brownley Hill Mine, Jug Vein Rigging and South End of West High Cross Vein (01/03/14)

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After the last trip into the High Level we wanted this time to replace some ropes and put in new anchors in a few places as well as having a look at the large stope Karli had got into briefly. This was going to be a hard trip due to amount of rigging gear we had - ropes, bolts, anchor plates and the Hilti drill.

Our first target was the rise up into the horse level on the Guddhamgill Burn Cross Vein. Here we all climbed up and then re-anchored the existing fish belly rail and added a backup around a large rock. The rope was replaced as well, which we think would have been around 20 years old. Once finished, we started the trek to Jug Vein via the connoisseur's route. At the junction to the start of the crosscut I took a note of the time and it took us 25 minutes to do it. Is that a good time or are we getting soft? We did the abseil at the end down the sump to the second pitch. A traverse line was put in leading to the pitch head along with three anchors. This would allow a nice clean pull through or a permanent rope installed with no rub points, coupled with easy take off points for the abseil.

When we all got down into the sublevel below the second pitch we made our way north and dropped down into the main horse level. The water level this time had dropped and the clogs by the sump were looking a lot drier than last time. Our next goal was to get back into the stope that Karli had looked into on the previous trip and give it a good explore. Passing by the clogs we entered the wet stretch of the horse level and soon we arrived at the chamber and rise up in to the stope.

The rise into the stope does not seem to be marked on any plans we have seen and we can only guess where it would be. A quick survey next time would pin point it. Getting up the rise can be a bit tricky as it is lined with a sticky clayey mud, but once you get past this the going gets easier. A 4m climb after the muddy section took us into a sublevel. Here there were two ways to go: a partially backfilled passage that you could get into, but after 10m or so ended in a fall and the other way took us to an open chamber with a large wall of deads on top of the passage that we came out of. The wall of deads had a ledge that we climbed up and this gave entry into another sublevel. At the sublevel, again two ways presented themselves. A short distance to the left lead to a narrow-ish shaft in the floor, at the bottom some rails could be seen. Right brought us out in a chamber with a number of ways on. Being well past lunch time this looked a like a good place to take a break and get some food. Lunch pic.

In the chamber we spotted a broken earthenware bottle, which was a nice find. There were three ways on: a sump dropping down into what looked like a large chamber, a passage over the sump, and a 1m climb over back fill. We tried the back fill first and this brought us to a ledge that you skirted round. At the ledge there was a low passage, which we ignored favouring the 3m drop to what looked like another sublevel. Once down, one way went to a stope and forehead. Where we had dropped from the ledge Karli noticed a little rat hole, in he went followed by shouts to come in. We slithered in and entered what turned out to be a back filled bait room! In one corner was a short wooden plank placed on two deads - the old mans seat. On the wall next to that there was a clay ball for a candle with corresponding soot marks above it. Next to the seat was a pair of clogs, but not any old clogs - one of the most intact we have ever seen. On the wall opposite the seat we also noticed another clay ball and candle stub. This was a bit of a special place. Getting out of the bait room was a bit more tricky then getting in with no gravity assistance, obeserving me getting out Karli voiced that it was like watching a difficult birth, yeah. Once out we took the sublevel and headed along a closely packed passage made from deads. After a short while we came to a right angled bend with a hopper / shaft in it. The shaft had rails which I recognised from the shaft seen at the top of the wall of deads we had climbed up. Passing over the shaft the passage went on a bit and we reached a stope that was partially understoped, this was as far as this part went. Retracing our route Karli and Pete climbed up some deads that looked to go up to another sublevel. I passed on this and headed back to the ledge area only to meet up with them via the low passage that we had ignored before.

The next item looked at was the sump in the floor. It was some 10m deep; we had used our anchors and bolts so a quick bolt and drill was out of the question. However it looked like Pete had found the crack with the sump after he crossed it and took the third way on from the chamber. He came into a large stope with a ledge and what looked like some understoping going under him. Surely enough we could hear his voice from the sump. Question answered. Returning to the wall of deads slope we made our way down back into the horse level. From here we wondered on whether it would be quicker to go back out via the High Level, and we almost took that route. However I pointed out that Pete had never had the pleasure of doing the round trip properly along with seeing the nice iffy tight crawls and under hanging arching. No brainer, the round trip won 2 to 1.