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Smallcleugh Mine - End of the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein and New Cross Vein (09/07/05)

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There are parts of Smallcleugh that get blanked, you pass passage branches knowing that they do not go anywhere, and so it is easy to think that there is nothing worth while to see, so this time not having been down Smallcleugh for a while we thought it might be good to see the forehead of Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein (MCSSV) and to check out some rises and further sub levels. We where surprised.

Between Cow Hill Cross Vein and the junction leading to Bogg Shaft there are a number of things that we have often passed but never looked at. The first junction you come to is Luke Hall's Gullyback Cross Cut, this did not go anywhere, and it seemed to end in a collapse as according to maps it should connect to the Longcleugh Vein south of MCSSV. After this we went down the series of steps that lead into a sub level below the incline. This sub level is a continuation of the sub levels that we have previously explored (see Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein and Sub Levels). The level is only short and quickly came to a partial collapse, after which there was a sump. The sump leads to Caplecleugh Level and is know as the Double Rise, we do not know if it is blocked. Karli popped down to the first staging, but concluded that it looked rather dodgy and so he came back up. Past the sump, some artifacts where found, but the level did not go on as it was back filled. Back on the incline we carried on heading west trying to find more possible links to the Longcleugh Vein, the maps show they exist, but we could not find them, and have concluded that they may be in stopes above the incline level. Just before the junction leading to Bogg's Shaft we came to Pickering's Rise to the Caplecleugh Level, rigging a safety line, we climbed down using the wooden ladders in place, and this brought us out in a short sublevel 36m long, which towards the end looked rather unstable. Pickering's Rise itself was interesting as it had air pipes and square wooden ventilation ducting going down it. We did not descend further and climbed back up onto the incline.

Shortly afterwards we passed the junction for Bogg's Shaft and carried on along the MCSSV. After a short distance we came to a ore truck and carrying on, we climbed up a fairly long rise which emerged into a very large stope above the level. We stopped for lunch here and then had an explore. The stope was in the great limestone, around 10m high in places, with parts of it stone arched. Charlie and Karli climbed up a very steep slope to the west to see if it went on and I stayed behind taking photograph's. It turns out that the stope went on some way and it may have been possible to carry on. Returning to the level below we carried on, encountering many artifacts, rises and hoppers leading back up towards the stope. As we went on in some of the rises you could see that the stope was getting smaller and smaller, as the vein was getting exhausted. Eventually the stone arching gave way to concrete lined passage way which the Vieille Montagne Zinc Company must have put in. The level here was driven just below the great limestone as you could see the interface with the tuft. At a cross cut intersecting the main passage the remains of a wheel barrow could be seen poking out about the water. Some 70m more and we came to the forehead of MCSSV, turning right we proceeded along the short New Cross Vein to where the drive was stopped, at the forehead we came across some small fossils in the great limestone. On the way back after Pickering's Rise we climbed up a promising rise into a very large stope and discovered a pile of wooden nails. A return visit, as always is required to carry out further investigations.