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Caplecleugh High Level Survey from Adits (05/10/07)

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Having recently been to the other side of the Caplecleugh High Level which cannot be reached via the adits we wanted to survey the adit route to see how far in the collapse actually is. Caplecleugh High does not seem to get much press, and it is easily dismissed as 'only goes about 500m and then there is a fall', from our trip there is definitely more to it than that...

Our route in was a bit on the slow side as we started the survey and this time round the photographs were taken on the way out. We entered via the top adit with the concrete steps, and at the bottom headed in along the smooth concrete spillway of the level. The spillway is still in very good condition and the first part of it has wooden sleepers and planks in the place of rails. Every so often a little alcove can be seen. The level varies in height and involves lots of duck walking which tests the old calf and thigh muscles. At about half way the planks give way to actual rails, and there is a siding with points. Eventually after 360m from the steps the smooth spillway finishes and you enter the first area of collapse in the shale. From here you carry on in partially concreted passage until you hit 'standard stone arching', at this point a shaft to the surface was seen. Just past the shaft is another fall, and after this to our surprise we came to a junction. The level continues to the right, but straight on was sealed at one point as there is the remains of a smooth concrete wall which has been broken through. We stopped for lunch here.

We carried on along the right hand branch through a section of falls and then entered into a passage which was a mixture of concrete and stone arching. Shortly another fall was reached and we climbed up into the chamber left behind. Here there was some old stoping above, the whole area looked rather unstable with cracks and loose looking shale rocks. The way went on, but time was running short and we still had photographs to take and to finish off the survey to the main adit. The most striking thing that hit us here was that there was a strong air flow going in - is this to another surface shaft further along or to sumps linking into the back end of Smallcleugh or even Caplecleugh?

Turning back we had a quick look along the other passage at the junction, there were a few falls but mostly it was sound. After maybe a 150m or so a sump was seen on the left with a branch to the right which looked like it ended in a fall. Also past the sump the level seemed to go on, but it was getting smaller. Retracing our steps we headed for the portal. After reaching the bottom of the steps again we continued our survey to the main adit. There is a bit more to the Caplecleugh High level than 'only goes about 500m and then there is a fall'. In total we surveyed around 615m of level, with more to go at.