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Smallcleugh Mine - Middlecleugh Second Sun and Longcleugh Sun Vein Stopes - Part 3, (10/03/07)

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We made our way to Pickering's Rise and climbed up in to the first stope area 6m above Smallcleugh. From here we climbed up into the first sublevel and then into a stope that is intersected by the most eastern cross cut between the two veins.

Here we surveyed the northern branch of the cross cut, and then followed the dog leg cross cut to a stope where a hopper was climbed - this enabled us to reach the other side of a stope that we had climbed up into on the last trip to this area (see Part 2). We explored this stope and followed an air pipe into a cross cut that took us into another stope. The stope had heavy white calcification and we could see the pipe going up a rise into what looked like a wooden box, was this an air reservoir? From this stope we could see where we had been standing before when surveying the north end of the dog leg cross cut. This area was on the MCSSV. We returned to the main stope that we had climbed into and had lunch.

After a bite to eat, we came down from the stope top and made our way to the Longcleugh Vein via the middle cross cut. We headed for Graham's Vein in an attempt to climb the rise into the high flat. After assembling the maypole (a total of 7m) we discovered it to be short by about 2 or 3m of the rise top, lots of cursing just like the other day! We had a look around for rails that maybe could have been used to gain extra height, but it was all in vein (not a pun).

Rather naffed off about not being able to get up, we proceeded back to the Longcleugh Vein and headed for the sublevel with the manway and ore shoot. We used two sections of the poles to make anchor points across the passage and a 20m rope was rigged up. The top of the manway was heavily calcified. Karli started to make his way down and discovered that the manway was laddered almost all the way to the bottom with the last 3-4m being a drop. The state of the ladders seemed sound enough, but to have the rope backup was a good thing - just in case, and it did come in handy for the last part. Shortly we heard details from the bottom, and I proceeded to follow him down. I came down onto some planks and stepped into the water some 14m below the first sublevel, a total of 24m from the horse level. The water was only knee deep and the passage looked inviting with the water having a thin crust of calcite on it. We took a bearing and it showed the passage heading off in an easterly direction. We followed it for approximately 30m and then Karli shouted out that he could see arching, we reached this and then saw two sumps in the floor. One did not go anywhere, but the other had two levels of ladders in it, the second level disappearing into a flooded sump. The sump was interesting as it had large diameter pipe work in it and some considerable effort had been spent in building the stone arching. A few metres past the sumps the passage floor became totally covered in a think calcite crust with striking patterns. It was so tempting to go on, but since Pete was waiting in the sublevel and we had already been over half an hour it was time to turn back.

Apart from the maypole short comings, the trip was good, especially on discovering the 24m sublevel. It will be interesting to see if the sublevel goes on and to try and find out what the sumps linked into, if anything. On reflection, despite the pipe work in the sump, we did not see any in the sublevel, was this installation never completed? We had hoped that this third visit would finish this area off, but as always Smallcleugh throws a spanner in the works.