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Smallcleugh Mine - New Fan Flats, Higher Smallcleugh Flats and Maypole Testing, (06/05/06)

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Having built up the maypole kit, I was eager to put it to the test. A easy quick venture into the Smallcleugh Flats was undertaken with the aim of using the maypole kit to climb into the high flats and the top of Smallcleugh Flats.

With five of us on this trip we all took a piece of the kit, so the going was rather easy. Our first destination was the rise leading up to New Fan Flats, this is a flat above the Smallcleugh Main Flats. The climb up is via a partitioned rise, one side for ore and one for a laddered manway with missing ladders. We started assembling the pole, attaching a rope ladder and rope. None of us was sure of the height so we just went for it and built up the whole 10m of pole, this turned out to be too long and we ended up removing a piece, making the pole 8m high. Looking up the rise this just about reached the top. I started to prusik up slowly testing the bend, all seemed well and I shortly got to the top, the ladder on the pole was good to have as it assisted in getting off. The pole was 30cm or so too short, but there was no real hardship in getting off. Charlie, Ambrose and Karli followed up, whilst watching them, you could see the state of the pole - it was stable and only flexed about 15cm or so. At last, after all these years of looking up the rise we had arrived in New Fan Flats. With access to the flat we where hoping to find some interesting items and indeed we did, just near the top of the rise a clog could be seen, and further into it we found scrapers, kibble handles, a few tins and a wooden nail. The flat itself was not very high, probably a metre of so, so it had to mostly be duck walked. After exploring we came back down and derigged. Lunch was had.

After lunch Charlie and Karli went of on a little explore of a rise that they had been digging, whilst myself, Ambrose and Mark set of to look at another rise. Just before Emerson Cain's Crosscut there is a little side passage heading in an westerly direction, in it there is a large rise in the limestone - yet another little thing that we have seen but never been up. The maypole was built up, 4 sections this time, we climbed up into a chamber in the limestone with smooth floors. A few passages led into areas where the floor was made from deads. We found a surprising number of artifacts, cardboard explosives boxes, a tin, and the prise find - pieces of an newspaper dated 1886! The newspaper was in a very fragile state and scattered all over the place, we tried to pick up as much as possible, to place on a flat surface. Parts of it had been set fire to. Further along the passages we came across many oreshoots which led to the Smallcleugh Horse Level. After a while we found two ways back down to the horse level. Yet again Smallcleugh has shown us that you need not go into the deepest reaches of the mine (though it helps) to find interesting artifacts, exploring properly what is under your noses can reveal new finds.