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Brownley Hill Mine, Brownley Hill Middle Vein Flats and Brownley Hill North Middle Vein (08/01/11).

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Having not been down Brownley Hill for some time now (passing through on through trips not counted), we wanted to start having a closer look at the mine and its layout. I'm hoping that this may be the start of a systematic explore with the aim of producing a really good plan of the mine - one that can be followed and where you don't have to guess the horizons of levels - rod for my own back maybe?

On arrival at the Engine Sump we took a right along the Wellgill Cross Vein, and worked our way through the level and stope workings (more than one route). There were a number of crosscuts heading east, and we passed under a shaft which went up to the surface. Past the daylight shaft a flooded sump could be seen, with a level going away down it - all looked nice and blue. Carrying on we reached a little junction with a crosscut heading east, were we found some explosives instructions. From the junction the level continued south, but entered water. Ian and Pete did not fancy get wet (they are wet) so early on, and so I took the plunge in to testie tickling deep water. The level went on for a while and then beared east, joining as expected the Gudhamgill Burn Cross Vein. I returned and we all made our way back to the Engine Shaft and then headed, north west along the Wellgill Cross Vein. Shortly on the right, we came to a little cross cut that is blind but it is not shown on any plans we have seen, it contained some newspapers for the 1930's, pipes and the remains of a small wooden box. Just above this crosscut was a rise which Ian had a look up, this paralleled the level below through stopes. Back out and we headed for the large flats that fall on the Brownley Hill Middle Vein.

Entering the flats we had a good look around the lower flat, finding hoppers into the level below, remains of a barrow and general pieces of iron work. Heading further into the flats you come to a sort of 4 way X junction, the way you have come from is the lower left leg, the lower right leg takes you up into the higher flat and top left and right carry on. We ended splitting up here, but then came back and all went up to the higher flat. This area is very impressive, with a wide expanse, nicely laid rails, chutes down to the lower flats and some artifacts. A good place to have lunch. Afterwards we went back down and had a look up both the top legs of the X junction. Both ended in foreheads, but we think there may have been a link between them, as part way along we got some strange strata that looked like a natural formation in both of them, with each one having being walled up. The left branch also had a short incline in it with barrow boards. At the X junction above us was an impressive wooden walkway, and it was possible to get to it by climbing back on yourself in the left branch. The whole area seems to have had a large amount of mineral specimens taken out, judging by the amount newspapers and drinks cans from the 1980's lying around. Back in the main horse level and almost opposite the flat we climbed up a little rise and entered what could almost be the continuation of the flat. Here there was a drop down a stope into some passage ways. It is interesting that you can climb down relatively easily, but yet there were a number of anchors bolted here, angle iron ones with copper bushes put in for the carabinas to go into.

Our next heading was the Brownley Hill North Middle Vein and to try and make sense of the connection with Gudhamgill Burn Cross Vein and the High Level, as (you've guessed it) plans are not very clear. Arriving at the vein junction we had a quick look around at the link to Hagg's and its relation to the VM abandonment plan. Back on track, we climbed onto the vein via the steps made from dead's to a higher horizon and made our way along it. At some point we had to climb down a wall into what looked like a collapsed sump and back up again (no details on any plan), then again maybe it wasn't a sump? Finally we came to junction with a large shaft, signifying that we had reached the Gudhamgill Burn Cross Vein. The way on was either left, right or straight on, however straight on was over the shaft and a few metres up. I had quick look along the right level, but came back after a 100m or so, according to the VM abandonment plan that would have gone all the way to past the Engine Shaft on the vein, but since looking at other plans we would have needed to have been on a different horizon for that - I think. I probably was close to the end of that level, but turned back thinking otherwise. Pete had waited at the junction whilst, Ian went for a look down the left branch. We heard his voice after a while and we think it came from the other side of the shaft - straight on, but could not be sure. After a while he came back and we joined him to have a look. Non of it made sense with the VM abandonment plan with us, however it did make some sense with the VM working plan back home. Taking the left branch takes you north for a while and there are two crosscuts east which meet up with another parallel level and it is this level that the VM abandonment plan shows, not the connecting one - hence the confusion. Along this level there are a number of ore chutes which must go down to another sublevel or even the horse level? Also there is the rise which give access to the Brownley Hill High Level. Time was getting short and we had to make our way back. Maybe we missed it with the rush, but there was no trace of the continuation of the North Middle Vein east of Gudhamgill Burn Cross Vein, which we thought may have been picked up from the level we were in, unless of course it is over the shaft.