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Rampgill Mine - Rampgill and Hardshins Veins (17/07/06)

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For myself and Karli it has been a fair few years since we have been down Ramgill along the Rampgill Vein and beyond. The last time we where down was well before the website, so it was high time to get down and take some photographs. Peter joined us on this trip as he had been eager to get past the infamous hydraulic door.

We followed the Rampgill Vein, passing the spur to Scaleburn, then Hangingshaw. Quickly we reached the engine shaft and had a look around, from here to the hydraulic door and into the vein proper. The first climbable rise we came to was the one with the diagonal ladders across the passage, this took us into a small flat and stope, here we found a few artifacts including a wooden box and oil can. From here we carried along the vein until we reached Millburn's Rise and Ramsey's Sump which had a good flow of water pouring into it. Climbing up the rise we entered the small engine room above the sump. We examined artifacts that had been left behind and pondered that there where so many here when compared to Smallcleugh - I hope it stays that way. Passing through the numerous NORPEX digs and supports we reached the once flooded sump just after Mark Hall's Rise. A quick inspection showed that it has been bolted and explored by another group. From a cross section on a plan it looks like if it is open is should intersect the Barneycraig Horse Level and the Four Fathom Limestone - however it did look rather a mess. We entered the little crosscut which bears northish by the sump to be greeted by a large kibble - what a surprise. Peter went to the end of the crosscut and it just hit a blind.

Carrying on yet through more NORPEX digs and supports we came to the large Rampgill Shaft. Here we had lunch, and then after that Karli and Peter rigged up the shaft for a look down it. I stayed up top and entered into my world of non rushed photography, which took me across the shaft, into the engine room and to the end of the crosscut on the other side of the shaft. When I got back the other two had started to have a little dig around on the bottom and the echoes coming up where sounding much bigger than when they first started! Can the plug be removed? After they came back up we carried on into the mine until we reached the junction with the Hardshins Vein. Here the passage was mostly concrete lined and some of it was starting to fail - looking at how it was failing made you think that when it goes, it goes - stone arching does seem to be a lot stronger especially since it can still leave an intact 'mini arch' after it has collapsed.

We carried along the vein past a few partial collapses, until we came across a laddered rise. Karli climbed up this and then shortly after excited shouts came down urging us to come up, thankfully he firstly came back down and rigged it up so that I could get up it easier (a bit unstable on the old feet for more difficult climbs). Whilst he did this myself and Peter carried along the passage until a full on collapse stopped us - pretty much all the collapses along have been on rises. We had a look at it and it looked like someone or group had started to dig here. We turned back, and joined Karli at the top of the flats. Tthe flats where in the great limestone and there where many aritfacts to be seen. We proceeded to explore the flats and discovered many interesting features. I think that we may have reached the top of the collapsed rise, but as time was getting short we had to turn around and head for the portal.

As we rounded the corner at the Brewery Shaft we could see the bright sun shine through the portal. Just as we where getting to the gate we could feel the heat building up and we where tempted to turn around. Standing outside the gate you could feel the cold air drafting out of Rampgill, which was like the cold you feel out of a refrigerator. Visiting Rampgill was a complete breath of fresh air and has got us fired up to do more down there as there is just so much to explore, our exploration of Smallcleugh is almost concluded now and it is getting harder and harder to go down, something new is required...