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Rampgill Firestone Level, Way on from the Little Limestone (15/10/11)

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Following on from our last visit, this time we were armed with extra rope and full bolting kit with the aim of abseiling down the drafting sump in the Little Limestone workings. Knowing the rigging routine now, we reached the sump at the end of the crosscut to the Sun Vein, and quickly rigged this up with a 40m rope, with scaffold pole deviation to make life easier. At the bottom of the first pitch Karli put in a second pole as a more secure anchor point and proceeded down the second pitch to reach the Little Limestone level. I followed on next, with Pete, Sal and Ian following coming down afterwards.

Reaching the Little Limestone I could already hear the sounds of Karli drilling the first holes for the anchors. Whilst this was going on, we took the opportunity this time to have a look further along the workings to see if the other rises and sumps could be seen that where on the London Lead Company cross sections. The rises were found however no open sump, only something that could have been one as it looked covered up or choked. We did not hang around as the areas was very shattered and in bad ground. Also with no airflow we concluded that the other potential link was not open. Back at the drafting sump all the others had now arrived and the 100m rope was being rigged ready for decent. From the depth of the strata 100m was way too much, but since we had no other suitable lengths, it had to do.

Karli abseiled down first and soon reaslised that the sump had a slight dogleg in it. At this point he was wondering about putting deviations in, but the sides though solid enough, were too weak to take a bolt - sod it, he carried on down and emerged into a large chamber. Pete followed with the drill, just in case he could do something, but he just ended up abseiling all the way down. I followed next and had a look at the rub points, two of them - not so rough, could have been worse - like over a limestone edge. Carrying on past the dogleg and further down I emerged into the chamber, landing on top of a rubble pile. From here I could see Pete and Karli further down. Looking around, the chamber was a stope some 30-40m long with both ends ending in large falls, but the best bit of news was that we were at the top of the Great Limestone. Karli had already found a nice looking ore chute with what looked to be a level at the bottom and was mid hole drilling for the forth pitch. Looking at the roof of the stope, we soon started to understand why it was in a messy state. Above the Great Limestone you have a thickish band of shale, known as the tumbler beds. Large pieces of this had peeled away, revealing loose material, which in turn poured into the stope, leaving bell chambers in the roof and a mess on the floor. No other features were found in the stope, it was devoid of any artifacts or mineralisation.

Once the others had abseiled down we had lunch, with thoughts of 'was it Rampgill Horse Level below us'. The ore chute at first seemed too shallow to be reaching the horse level from the stope, but if you added the height of the space to top the Great Limestone, it could fit. After lunch, Karli proceeded down the forth pitch, followed by Sal. At the bottom they shouted up that it was a nice level, estimating the chute to be 10m or so, and then they went of for a look around. We finished packing gear up and I abseiled down next. Indeed the level was in nice condition. Looking at the floor I noticed the marker from a few months ago and was surprised it had made it all the down, thriugh the stope and out. Wondering, which way Karli and Sal had gone I soon saw a light and headed for it with the question, 'have you seen anything you recognise' - response was: two grins and 'the Engine Shaft is just of the crosscut'. We had reached the Rampgill Horse Level, landing in on the Sun Vein, a very pleasing result. I mentioned the marker and Karli told me that he had found it the stope and had thrown it down the chute - not so amazing then.

Once all of us were down on the horse level, we were wondering what to do, go back up and exit, spilt up with some going back up, some out. Anyway we ended up all going along the Sun Vein, to see if we could locate the sump that connected with the Rampgill Cross Vein. We did find a few candidates but it was difficult to see from the bottom. We carried on and soon encountered a large airpipe on the wall of the level, which we followed for some distance. I think in the end we went on for maybe half an hour or so, but then decided that the area probably needed a trip on its own to have a good look at things and so we returned to the hopper. Once thing to bear in mind, was that the air at the far end was a little stale - sitting for a while we did not seem to cool down and it all felt hot and sticky, coming back out of it - it was like getting a blast of fresh air. Back at the hopper we again were wondering on what to do. In the end we decided to all exit via Rampgill, so that we could all say that we had done the Firestone to Rampgill through trip - in one adit, out another.

Examining the cross sections of the London Lead Company we were able to put more accurate depths on the descents. Rampgill Firestone Level to the Little Limestone working: 27m, Little Limestone to the top of the Great Limestone: 31m, Stope Floor to Rampgill Horse Level: 9m. Height of the stope approximately 10m. One thing to bare in mind was also the fact that the Great Limestone in this part of the mine also went below the horse level a littl way. It is only on the Rampgill Cross Vein that the Great Limestone shifts up to being above the horse level.