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Stopes East of Bogg Shaft, Smallcleugh Mine (21/02/09)

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After finding a number of rises last month in this area of the mine, a maypole mission was needed to get up them and find out if they went anywhere interesting. A relatively early start this time round (even though we did have to wait for Karli again), we entered the portal at 10:45. A quick march through the mine saw us at the first target location an hour or so later.

The first rise to climb up was the one on the parallel vein running north of the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein on the western forehead, at the hopper and manway that all the timbering had fallen away from. Three sections of maypole reached the top, a total of 7m. Karli quickly prussiked up, to find a little ledge and a further rise of 1.8m. The only problem being that the next part of the level was actually not very well supported. Karli did not fancy going higher up, which must have meant it was dodgy! I had a quick look up and did not like the look of it either. A disappointment, and maybe something to be tried again at another time. Doing a full reverse we retraced our route to the junction with Longcleugh Vein to look at the stope with the large stone arching. Here before cracking on, we had lunch.

After lunch the maypole was assembled to the full height of 9m, and Karli prussiked up to see what was up there. A level could be seen as expected. The pole did not quite reach the top and to make it easier to get up 2 sections where removed and installed higher up, with the rope being taken from this point via a deviation. A short length of rope ladder was also deployed to assist in the level entry. Soon all of us were up and we found the level to be blocked in both western and eastern directions. However on the west side there was a grotty looking hole. Just to the east side of the level there was a very impressive dressed stone lined shaft going up. The level underneath this shaft seemed to have fallen away and a large stope could be seen below. Scrambling down a slippy slope we passed tallow candles on the wall and soon entered the stope, to find that it seemed to be on the other side of the maypole stope we had just come from - (mental panic occurring here) - as expected a few hoppers were found, then one with spikes in for climbing. Yes, we did get back to the horse level, and yes we did curse, and yes we did feel like we had chased our own arses. Oh well, a good technical exercise and well, we now know that you can get up there without a maypole. Hummm. More investigation next time before resorting to maypoles.

Moving on from the stope we recovered the maypole and proceeded to climb up the manway which gives access to Bogg Shaft. We brought 3 of the maypole sections along for another investigation in the chamber with the large pipes. The Caplecleugh High Level intersects this chamber some 5m above and we had wanted to see if the eastern side actually was open. It did not look promising as the shale here was particular in a bad state. Maypole erected and a quick traverse along the chamber side and prussik up brought Karli into the level. Shortly in, it was fully blocked and in a very poor condition. Not having much luck with the pole? We climbed back down to the manway and had a look on the other side of it. Some old shovels could be seen along with fuse and fittings. The level here was short and quickly reached a little short length of dexion ladder. This gave access to a grotty slope going upwards, sound familiar? Yes indeed, climbing up it gave entrance to the level at the top of the maypole we had investigated before.

Conclusion: 1) You can get to Bogg Shaft without SRT, 2) The stone lined shaft looks very enticing.