After the ratch around in Rampgill Firestone Level, there was a
still half a day left to go at so we ended up going down Smallcleugh for a
photography potter in Incline Flats. Basically I talked the others into helping
me play with the new camera and to be lighting slaves - they love it. The up
side was that we had never photographed this area and it was high time we did.
This was the first time in Smallcleugh on a proper trip in two years, it seemed
like a blast from the past, it was nice to be in the old stomping ground again.
We took a leisurely route in via the Hard Crosscut, Northend Flats, into the
horse level and then up to Incline Flats, stopping and starting, looking at
things again and seeing the odd thing that we had missed over the years whilst
speeding into the deepest depths of Smallcleugh.
Not having had lunch
yet, the first thing do do was to find a nice spot for it and the small open
area past the junction with the High Zinc Flat proved to be a good spot.
Afterwards we carried along the main level through the flats heading
northwards, taking photographs and playing with camera and light settings. We
reached the blind sump and wondered about what had happened here for it to left
like that - had the old man planned to connect to a spur of the horse level
below, but it got abandoned? Moving on, we reached the sump that connects with
the Hard Crosscut. Here that flats opened out a bit and we saw the tub with no
wheels and excellent examples of pack walling with timber supports. Following
the eastern wall we looped back to the main level through the flat and headed
back to where we had lunch.
From here we now headed down the shallow
incline that marked the High Zinc Flat. A lot of this flat is filled in with
deads, but there is a warren of small passages through them and it is possible
to follow the perimeter of the flat in a loop. About two thirds of the way down
the main level opens out into a larger area, that looks to have been a dressing
floor. We took some photographs of this area and whilst leaving it encountered
a large growth of dry rot. The way it was growing was very eerie. There were
patches of it making up concentrations of growth and these where connected to
other patches about a metre or so away by thick tendrils about 5mm thick. You
could imagine sitting down for a while and these things reaching for you.
Carrying on we reached the western tip of the flats finding some old tins of
beer; Carlsberg Larger and Tenants Deep Brewed 'Piper' - blast from the past /
pseudo artefacts or litter?
Beer cans aside, the most interesting thing
in this part of the flats was the roof. Looking back up the level we had come
down, you got to see a different perspective - large slabs were peeling away
from it, supported by rotten pillars and resting on deads. Makes you say a few
expletives, but then you carry on under it. I supposed that's mine exploring.
In the large open area at the end of the flats there was a similar story,
however on a much bigger scale. The roof in this section seems to have peeled
away in one big slab, at a guess lets say around 10m diameter or so. It is only
around 20cm thick and the separation from the roof is 5-10cm. It is held up by
remaining wooden pillars (not really up to much) and mostly by the stacked
deads. We made our way out from the High Zinc Flat by a loop following the
perimeter on the northern side, finally emerging near the blind sump. Then it
was back to the junction taking more photographs. Whilst doing this we noticed
some balls of clay and a few pieces of a clay pipe on the deads. See, less
rush, more observation. We then headed back out, past the ventilation door and
into a little spur of flats that headed south, ultimately ending at the
forehead. Then it was back out the way we came. It's good to have these potter
sessions from time to time.