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Middlecleugh Mine - Sump Exploration, (21/07/07)

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On our last trip we found four sumps in Middlecleugh which corresponded with the area above the First Sun Vein, Great Cross Vein and the Ballroom in Smallcleugh, with high hopes of possible being able to link into Smallcleugh we set off with two 3m long poles to use as anchors for descending the sumps.

The first one we reached was the camel sump, we positioned the poles and rigged up, using some rail line further up the passage as back up. Karli abseiled down, with mutterings which did not sound too encouraging. At around 25m he called up - blocked, choked - disappointment all round, not a great start. This looked like a major sump which we had hoped to be open. He tried to look around the edges to see if the roof line of a level could be seen, but the answer to this was no.

The next sumps we tried where along the passage that parallels the one in Smallcleugh to the Ballroom. We carried out some gardening work around the walled sump, but ended up leaving it till last as it was going to be tricky. Moving further in we rigged up the next sump along, which was the MH, Mark Hall sump. After rigging, lunch was had, then I descended down to find it choked at about 8m. I climbed back up and Karli derigged, as he derigged he dropped the rope down the sump - the emergency 8mm washing line was rigged up and he retrieved it - Spoon Award No1. In the mean time Pete went to the next sump located in some bad shale. He came back concluding there was too much hanging death to rig it safely.

Returning back to the walled sump we installed the poles across it. Popping over the wall we could see that the wall was rather unsafe - part of it was built on rotten stemples and the sump side seemed to be crumbling as it was made up from poor rock - if you visit this sump DO NOT LEAN ON THE WALL! Using the poles as supports we where able to get a better view down the sump and it looked like there could be something down there. Karli suggested that we drop the camera down in video mode along with the diffused spot lamp for illumination. Attempt 1: too much spin, whilst deleting the video I managed to delete all the photographs taken so far - Spoon Award No2. Attempt 2: not enough light. Attempt 3: using both lamps and the camera in the middle we managed to see a level or stope half down the sump. At the bottom it looked like there was a continuation of a level or working leading off - not bad for a very impromptu 'Mine Cam'.

The trip was disappointing with the sumps being blocked at the bottoms, however the walled one does seem to be promising, but not really for a link to Smallcleugh as there is little or no air movement in this part of the mine. To descend this sump safely the wall needs to be brought down and built up again half a metre or so away from the edge. Also the hanging death sump should be investigated, if only by getting to the edge of it by rope to look down. The only other sump to check out it the one along the main drive in, where it intersects the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein, this one has a lot of water pouring down it and sounds flooded.