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Smallcleugh Mine - Old Fan Flats and The Letter Box (08/10/05)

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After the last trip of just pottering about and revisiting parts of the mine that you tend to over look we decided to do this format again, a kind of back to basics.

We headed in and took the Smallcleugh Cross Vein passage, our first destination being The Old Fan Flats. Having seen it on various plans, none of us had ever been there before as it was something that was just ignored, our loss. The flats are very impressive with excellent examples of waste walling, still vertical and neat. To the north end of the flats, there is a drop of approximately 3m, this leads to a sublevel which is a warren of little passages. Surprisingly we found quite a number of artifacts, including the ends of shovels and ore truck wheels. The stone arch passages themselves where in very good condition, apart from the odd few collapses - altogether a real eye opener, especially since the flats are so close to the entrance.

After the flats Karli and Mark led the way through to the Letter Box, somewhere where I had never been and where they visited last some 10 years ago. Our reaction to the Letter Box and the Flats was as if we had come down the mine for the first time, the area again is a warren of flats and sublevel passages. The most impressive feature being a large flat which has a curved ceiling that lends itself into being a very effective echo chamber. We also found a shaft which we think drops down to the sublevel which parallels the Smallcleugh Cross Vein (see Smallcleugh Cross Vein and Sub Level). This needs investigating at a later date when we have our SRT rigs with us. We stopped for lunch in the flats here and then headed for the Ballroom for some flash powder photography tests along with a quick look at Elliots String and the Longcleugh / Smallcleugh Cross Vein Junction which has been dug out recently.

On our way back from the dig, we bumped into an old friend of Mark's and Karli's, Jim who was showing some friends round. They joined us for the Ballroom photography and a good old gas.