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Smallcleugh Mine - East side of Longcleugh Vein (23/02/07)

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Burdened with parts of maypoles we had intended to carry on the explore of the stopes on the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein, however having reached Wheel Flats and sitting before George Hetherington's Hell Cut we decided to give that a skip and instead we ended up doing a bit of pottering past the dig on the Longlceugh Vein near the Ballroom.

We climbed into the flat just past the Ballroom and gave it a bit more attention than on previous visits. On the south side there is a very high shaft which is heavily calcified with pipes melded at the bottom, it would be very interesting to see where it goes as I have heard that it could link into the Middlecleugh Level. After having a look around we had lunch. On the north side of the flat a stope could be seen some 3m above. We climbed into this and eventually we reached a wide section with a hole in the floor leading back into the horse level below, yet again it makes you think of what you are walking on as the roof of the level below is only a few metres thick.

Dropping back into the horse level we carried on to the dig on the junction with the Longcleugh Vein. On the west side of Longcleugh Vein you can only proceed for about 10m where another collapse stops progress - if this could be cleared access could be gained to the big flats on the East and West Strings. Turning back we headed down the East String eventually reaching a three way junction. Straight on was blocked after a few tens of metres, right was also blocked after a while, but left was open. Passing through some shale passages we reached a large shaft with lots of water pouring down it. The bottom of the shaft had a large pile of debris below it and since being there I have been told that the shaft also goes down and is capped or back filled. To the left of the shaft the passage continued until another shaft this time in the floor was reached, with two rail tracks bridging it we were able to get across it and after another 10m or so we reached the forehead of the East String. This whole area is just below the Great Limestone and so digging through collapses should be relatively easy if attempted. On the VM plans large series of flats are shown in this area which would be well worth the effort to get to see.

Retracing our route we returned to Wheel Flats and assembled the maypole (it would have been sacrilidge not to use it after all the effort) and Alistair climbed up a rise to see if there was anything of interest - a big no - it was a blind - well at least we knew now, so much for old tales of this rise being a by-pass for George Hetherington's!