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Rampgill Sun Vein, Part 1 (06/01/13)

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We have been spending our Saturdays doing rather long 10-12 hour trips which leave us in a deflated state for Sundays, and so instead of wasting the day gassing over the table and drinking lots of tea - new year - new start. Sunday trips back on. One area that we have not really looked at in any detail is the Rampgill Sun Vein, last visited on the Firestone Level through trip. This area seemed ideal for a potter and to take some photographs along with testing a new Fenix torch, the PD32 Ultimate Edition with 740lm output - all from a 24mm diameter and 138mm long package. Just after 11:00 saw us inside the adit, for once feeling very light with not much tackle. Heading for the sun vein we had a few goes with using the torch and it quickly proved to be very good, both for distance and closer up photographs.

Arriving at the junction with the crosscut to the Rampgill Sun Vein, we made our way along it looking at the smaller veins the crosscut passed through, namely Emerson Cain's and Morrah's. Once on the Rampgill Sun Vein we headed west, and after a short distance came to a hopper that could be easily climbed. This took us up into a stope working that was filled in with lots of deads. It went over the level we had come in, but ultimately ended in a fall. There was nothing significant in the way or artifacts, however the hopper into it was very nicely timbered. Back down from the stope, we carried on along the level until we reached the junction with the Patterdale Vein. The stone work in the arching here was quite impressive, but other than that, nothing major to see. I headed north down the vein, to come to a fall, which if not present would have allowed me to get back onto the main Rampgill Horse Level. On the way back from the fall I could smell a lot of hydrogen sulphide, which I suspected might be the case on the way in due to the submerged rails, orche and little footfall. Back at the junction I went south to a fall, however I did not miss much as the forehead would have just been past it. Returning to the main crosscut junction we headed south along it and entered a very nice level in solid rock. Maybe 60m in and we hit the forehead, which was reached in November 1820.

From here we carried on east on the Rampgill Sun Vein looking into all the junctions. The first main junction we came to was a split to the right, which picked up Morrah's Vein. Here we found some heavy calcification and ended up having lunch. Afterwards we carried on and came to a further junction, one side led to a forehead and the other to an interesting rise leading up to workings on the Rampgill Cross Vein (we think). An easy climb up the rise revealed both ways blocked. We climbed down and headed back to the Sun Vein. Moving east again we shortly came to the intersection with Rampgill Cross Vein. Now the connection with the cross vein at this point is above the level and it is possible to abseil down to our position from the cross vein, which is entered just before the first door of the NORPEX dig. From here we encountered air piping along the level and a flooded sump. Past the sump we climbed over a fall consisting of deads and soon the level turned to shale. Eventually we came to a junction and the air here was starting to get a bit sticky. Time wise we needed to be getting out and this made a convenient place to turn back.

Concerning the Fenix torch, that really proved to be a great piece of kit, especially its size verses light output. The other bonus was that it uses a neutral white LED and a single cell 18650 Li-Ion battery. Couldn't recommend one enough, providing you can get your hand on one as they seem to have sold out rather quickly.