The last time we were in the Top Level was to do the shaft bottom
clearance in 2011. We never actually went further inbye as the urge to take
that dip in the ochre pool with very little airspace wasn't that strong. But
now some kind people have lowered the blockage and drained all the sludge away
- so it was time to have a visit.
We entered the level and immediately
saw that the water was freely draining and was much lower than last time and it
was all clear until the first fall that had been dug out. It looked like the
water behind the fall had dropped a bit, but even so passing through soon we
were up to our mid rifts in really cold water. Walking through the water we
quickly realised that we where going to get a healthy fake tan after this trip.
Reaching the junction with the Borehole Sump to the surface we checked this out
and it was still clear. We carried on in along the level following the airpipe
until we reached the ochre chamber. All the sludge had gone and you could crawl
easily through it, with the rock dam gone it was all starting to dry out, but
still sticky as hell. Passing through this we entered new land.
past the ochre we came to a loop in the level with a double hopper arrangement
that was interesting to see. There were some steps leading into a working
above. Karli started to do some gardening and water management, leaving him to
it Pete and I went further along. Past the double hoppers the level opened up
and was quite wide, this area must have been a passing place. Further along,
the level started to look in much poorer condition with friable walls and lots
of material on the floor that has fallen off the roof and sides. Not the nicest
of places. With no sign of Karli following us, we went back for him and dragged
him away from playing at water management. One thing to note here is that he
was complaining of being out of breath after exerting himself - testament of
the low oxygen that this level is known for. We carried on until the drawing
sump and here there was an old wheel that looked to be from a winding
arrangement. Pass this we carried on some more and the level got progressively
worse. Coupled with iffy air we decided to turn back. Once we got out, we went
down to the bridge and ended up getting cleaned up in Gudham Gill - we looked
clean on the outside, but when we got back to base the under suits and our skin
was a different story.