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Middlecleugh Mine - Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein (02/03/14)

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It has been some time since we last visited Middlecleugh. A number of falls have been dug and some new areas and routes have been opened up. One of these is the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein (MCSSV). We wanted to have a look at this and the sump that connects with Mitchell's flat in Smallcleugh.

We headed straight up the main level and eventually after around 450m we came to the junction with MCSSV. The start of the MCSSV here was always low and in bad ground until the first fall, and even after the digs to open it up the going was mostly duck walking and hands and knees. There was nothing really to see until we came to the first junction at 60m. Here there was a short crosscut to a chamber and blocked sump with a galvanised bucket. This also marked the only bit of arching in the level that we saw. The entrance to the arching was done with a nice bit of stone work to blend in and support the roof. At this point we saw the air pipe that headed down to Mitchell's Flat, exposed in the open arched section. The arching only lasted for 10m or so and then we came to a large chamber and mound that we has to slither up into, then over and down through a rat hole. Once through the rat hole we came to the sump that leads down to Mitchell's Flat.

At the sump, two things struck us. Firstly, there was a lot of clear graffiti on the walls written in chalk and secondly we did not like the state of the sump top. We had come here with the intension of abseiling down and doing a through trip via Smallcleugh, but the state of the sump top did not inspire confidence in us. We knew that others had been down and made the connection, but to us the top of the sump was in a 'state'. The air pipe elbowed to the left and went straight down the sump; the far side of the sump was covered in a timber platform with tonnes of rocks and rubble on top of it, which looked to have come down from a working above. The timbers looked really rotten and one of them had burst underneath allowing a large shale slab to protrude through it. The more we looked at it, the more we did not like it. In the end we decided to not do the abseil.

Returning to the main level, we could see some lights moving around, this was Nick and Pete that we had planned on meeting up with as they were in Middlecleugh as well. We had a chat and told them about what we thought of the sump and then looked at what they were getting on with. They pointed out a partially back filled short crosscut that led to a square chamber and sump, apparently no one had noticed this before.

We had a look at it and it was the typical square chamber and round hole arrangement often seen in London Lead Company workings. Getting to it was a bit awkward, but on the way there were some beautiful calcite formations. They had planned on wedging a scaffold pole across the entrance to the crosscut and rope of that, but after looking at it, the rope attached would have been subject to a lot of abrasion - the floor was sharp with calcified shale. If you did not want to damage the rope then the only way would have been to provide protection along the short crosscut. We did have some rope protectors, but not enough to cover the whole lot. Checking the sump out, it seemed to go a fair distance and we got the feeling that there might be a dogleg or platform in it as some stones thrown down it definitely went further than others.

After we finished looking at the sump we spent quite a while chatting. Then the cold started to set in and we made our way out, leaving Nick and Pete to finish their trip. Doing some investiagation after the trip we found out that the sump in the partially back filled crosscut is called Burn's Sump and connects to the Smallcleugh horizon via a crosscut called Patterson's Level, which should connect somewhere between Little's and Stephenson's Sumps on the main MCSSV Smallcleugh Level. This connection has been looked for in the past without success, it may be that because it coincides with one of the flooded sumps that has the large mound in front of it.