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Smallcleugh Mine - Beyond Bogg Shaft 3 - Sublevels and Surveys, (30/09/06)

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Having discovered the large stopes beyond Bogg Shaft on a trip earlier this month, we came back to survey the lay of the land and to finish off a sublevel that had been started last year. Dropping down from the surface shaft we headed for the ore shoot link to the Smallcleugh Horse Level on the west side of Bogg Shaft. On the cross cut linking the Middlecleugh North and Longcleugh Veins we stopped for a quick lunch. Now it was time to put in some more anchors to finish off the job we had started last year. Taking out the drill we had brought with us we discovered it was absolutely useless, some members who shall remain anonymous had forgotten to bring a drill bit down - at this stage there where a lot of expletives. Thankfully using the one anchor and a rail line we where still able to get down the shaft we had wanted to explore. Alistair rigged the shaft and we dropped down into the sublevel some 6m below.

The shaft continued down to Caplecleugh, but whether it was open all the way or not was not possible to see as there was a large amount of debris making it unsafe to abseil down further. This did not bother us that much as there was plenty to see in this sublevel. Landing in the level, an ore truck greeted us with tools as its load, further on we came to a junction with dynamite, fusing and detonators along with other artifacts. Left, the junction was back filled, right it carried on past many ore hoppers, concrete arching and manways. In the level we found artifacts, amazingly long straw stalactites, and graffiti dating back to 1917. Eventually we reached a point on the level where it had been back filled. Here Alistair and Karli climbed a manway, which gave us access to a stope, that yet again revealed more fantastic artifacts.

Having surveyed, explored and photographed we made our way back to the main horse level and then proceeded to climb the manway up to the stopes above Smallcleugh and the link to the larger stopes we have found on the last trip. Since the last trip report a number of other explorers have contacted us, identifying the stopes we had found. The stopes did not belong to Smallcleugh, they where part of the Caplecleugh system and had always mostly been accessed via the Caplecleugh Low Level. With time running short the main aim was to survey what we had found last time to try and get a fix of possible shafts to the surface as the air here was very fresh and cold - hopefully meaning a surface link near by and an easier route to get here.

On arrival we managed to do a quick survey and to have a little potter, then it was a race back to the surface to make call out time. It was a very tiring trip, approaching 9 hours, with 113m of abseil and prussuking. Finally around 8:30 in the evening the last member of the group emerged from the surface shaft. All of us where rather exhausted and wondering what we where doing there at that time on a Saturday night? Thoughts of finishing a nice meal and maybe drinking a second or third pint came to mind.

One last note, whilst prussuking up I looked up to see how far I had to go, my helmet clip came undone and off went the helmet, thankfully the power lead to the battery pack stopped it dropping all the way, food for thought about all the helmet mounted battery pack converts.