Following on from our sump clearance last month, we thought that
it would be a good idea to check out the sump at the end of the crosscut at the
start of the Rampgill Sun Vein to see if that connected with the bottom of the
cleared sump. Karli had been down this a number of years ago on a COMRU
exercise, but could not remember exactly what the lay of the land was. He
thought that there was a chamber and then another sump on. One thing he did
know was that it was all very ochreous and that you come out tangoed.
We geared ourselves up with scaffold poles, rope, shovels and then
headed for the sump at the end of the crosscut connecting with the Rampgill Sun
Vein. Here a timber and rail provided a good anchor for the rope, with a second
rail acting as back up along the access passage to the sump. Karli suggested
using on the poles to as a deviation above the sump, this made getting on and
off the pitch really easy and illiminated the need of a rope protector. We all
abseiled down and much to Karli's surprise he had forgotten that the bottom of
the sump entered a level as well as carrying on further down. We estimated that
the sump was some 13m deep, coupled with another 2m or so for rubble, making it
around 15m - correct depth for the Pattinson Sill Level. We entered the level,
which was open and drafting outbye. Is was really a hands and knees job as a
lot of material had come down from the frail roof - a crumbly shaley sandstone.
We went some 30m and then Karli shouted that there was a sump. This was
unexpected and nothing like that was shown on the LLC plans. There was a ledge
on the left hand side and if you were careful it was possible to get round it.
We roped up and belayed each other - just in case. Karli went first and he
ended up clearing a bit of the orche build up on the other side resulting in a
orange river flowing into the sump with a real rush of air to boot. Water /
ochre management - Karli loves that. There was what looked to be a stemple
across the sump to one side, on inspection it turned out to be some 75mm steel
piping along with a thinner steel pipe behind it. Definitely not original,
maybe something left by other explorers? All around the sump there were large
formations and stalactites of rippled orche. I went across next and then Ian.
With all of us on the other side we headed on, to be stopped by another sump
some 10m into the continuation of the level. There was no way across this as it
was right in the middle of the level and we estimated that we would need
something 4m long to span it safely. The walls here were fragile shale, so no
chance of bolting. So close to reaching the bottom of the cleared sump and yet
so far. We wondered whether one of us should go back up to the horse level to
the cleared sump to see if we could get a voice connection. However, after
discussing it we thought that it was pointless as from the depths and distances
we reckoned that it must be the same level and that the sump that we cleared is
just around the corner in the level beyond. Plus the thought of two of us
sitting there in a very drafty passage for 30-40 minutes did not appeal. Before
we left a small rock was dropped down it, depth we think was around 10-15m and
the bottom was flooded due to the sound of a splash, however it did echo a lot
leading us to believe that it was just watered and not totally
Returning to the bottom of the sump from the horse level
(getting covered in lots of ochre) we rigged a rope down the next section of
it. Ian went down first, then Karli and myself last. This part of the sump was
very heavily calcified with orche and had lots of formations in it. Towards the
bottom there were the remains of a ladder and the final section involved
sliding down a tight fitting letterbox and finally out into a shale chamber.
Karli and Ian shouted towards me as they had moved further down into a level.
Moving away from the letter box I went down a slippy slope and then entered a
wider level. The air was drafting this way. The level had lots of shale on the
floor but the interesting thing was that on the right hand wall there was
Limestone. How far had we come down? First thoughts were that this was the top
of the Great Limestone, humm, no way. The next band of limestone below the
Pattinson Sill was the Little Limestone, which is what we must have come into.
Now on the Rampgill Vein there are workings in the Little Limestone and a
level, but I had could not remember if there was anything on the Rampgill Sun
Vein. Moving along the level we came across a large sump on the left hand side.
This was where the air was drafting to. A bit of 'old modern' timber was put
across the entrance to it, but we did not think that it had been used as an
anchor as it seemed too thin - or were we just too cautious about it? We
settled down for some lunch and after finishing it, we had really cooled down.
Not moving around and a healthy draft does not help. Ian and Karli had a little
look around and I took some photographs. Whilst I was doing this I noticed an
old rusty spit in the limestone face - so someone has explored this in the past
- judging by the state of the spit it was quite a while ago. Before leaving we
wrapped a small stone up in tin foil and dropped it down the sump as a marker.
Going back up the sump resulted in more coatings of ochre and by the
time was got back up to the horse level we looked well messed up and tangoed.
At last there is some use for the stretch of very cold waist deep water on the
way out - helps to clean you up, but unfortunately not enough as we found out
whilst cleaning up in the river.
Returning home I looked at my LLC copy
of the Rampgill Sun Vein plan and some of what we had seen made sense. The
Pattinson Sill Level crosscut was on the plan (we already knew that), but it
had no sumps on it. The sump we had abseiled down was on the plan and on closer
inspection also on the cross section. The sump has a little kink in it at the
Pattinson Sill (which we encountered) and it ended in the Little Limestone -
again confirmed by the strata found. The bottom of this sump enters a working,
also shown on the plan and further along on the cross section there is another
sump shown that goes all the way to the Rampgill Horse Level, which must be the
one we found. This adds up with the estimate of 30-40m from a rock drop test.
This sump also looks to be shown on the plan, but it has no connecting levels
to it. Looking further east on the cross section I am kicking myself that we
did not go further along the level, as another sump was shown going up to the
Pattinson Sill and also down to the top of the Great Limestone. Next