After our survey trip of the east end of Rampgill Vein in April
2013 we looked at some of the open rises in detail. One of the rises had a
survey number next to it, 'Hopper 29'. The rise itself went straight up through
the Great Limestone, had what looked to be a level part way up it and its top
seemed open. The ore chute and manway were rather large and this seemed to
indicate a major rise. So after discussing it a few times we finally got round
to trying to get up it.
Equipped with a five section maypole (providing
9.5m of height), bolting kit and SDS drill the four of us made our way to the
east end of Rampgill Vein, feeling a bit like pack horses with all the gear.
Finally we arrived and dumped the scaffold sections. Climbing into the hopper
we looked up the chute and confirmed that we had not been dreaming about it
being open and sound. First job was to erect the pole; once this was up we had
a go at footing it in different positions to get the best stability. Karli
prusikked up first, reaching the 'level' we could see part way up the rise
revealed it to be choked up with deads. A bit disappointing, but the top still
looked good to go. When he reached the maximum height, the pole was starting to
feel a bit wobbly and there was no chance of getting off, as there was around
another 3-4m to climb up. Karli came back down and we changed the footing of
the pole and changed our bracing technique. Back up he went, whilst Sal and I
braced the pole. Pete prepped the bolting gear and SDS drill. This was all
hauled up and Karli proceeded to bolt upwards. Getting of the pole made him
feel a lot better! After 30 minutes or so, there was a shout that we could
start going up.
It turned out that at the top of the rise, you could go
west and east. Karli had put in a traverse to get us on to the east side first.
We were at the top of the Great Limestone and it was a mess. Large chunks of
shale had come down in places and there was a great deal of what looked like a
mix of fractured sandstone and limestone. We could also see a depression which
corresponded with the blocked level part way up the rise. Heading east we
passed through a fall that brought us to a more open chamber. This we decided
would be a good place to have lunch. Looking around we found some detonator
tins and a pile of pure galena - ore left behind that never saw the light of
day. There was a way on, which we took, but the going was not pleasant. The
roof was a bit of a horror show - 30cm flakes that had separated from the
strata above, and then split vertically making a sort of natural stone arch
with large gaps. Continuing on for maybe around 40m, we then turned back as it
progressively got worse. In the workings we found more detonator tins and some
fuse. There was also a rock on the floor with a survey mark. If we had gone on,
we would have for sure connected with the workings found during the survey last
time. We had been hoping to try and find a connection to the flats south of
Rampgill Vein that intersect Moor's String, but no joy at this horizon.
Returning back to the rise, Karli started to rig a traverse to the west
side of it. Here the level looked really promising. Sal went across first after
the rigging had been finished and then went off up the level. By the time I had
got across, she was back reporting that it ended in a fall that looked to be a
fallen in rise from above. She also came across two chutes going down to the
horse level. Not the greatest of news. Whilst she and Pete abseiled back down
Karli and I had went to have a look and to take some photographs. We noted some
more survey marks in chalk along with coils of wire which must have been the
remains of air piping.
For a large and major seeming hopper, it was a
bit disappointing to not have it go further. However, it looked like it had not
seen any modern traffic and we felt we could well have been the first ones up
it - small conciliation.